On the Mark

Mark Martin
Kittie Blakemore

The first women’s basketball coach at West Virginia University was remembered by the first leader of girls basketball at Ravenswood High School.

Kittie Blakemore, who won 301 games during her career with the Mountaineeers, died on Wednesday. She was 91.

She started the program in 1973 and guided WVU teams for 19 seasons.

Sandra Elmore was an assistant coach to Blakemore before coming to Ravenswood in the school year of 1975-76.

“We have remained close friends through the years,” said Elmore, who also coached girls track and field at Ravenswood. “Kittie was such an integral force in not only women’s basketball at WVU but women’s athletics, as well as the athletic department.

“In fact, the formation and growth of women’s athletics in the state owes a lot to the work of Kittie Blakemore at the state’s land grant institution.”

Blakemore was the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year on two occasions. Her 1992 team went undefeated in conference play and finished 26-4.

Her 1989 squad captured the A-10 tournament championship and the 1992 squad won the regular season title.

She had three teams reach postseason play, two in the NCAA Tournament and one in the WNIT.

Blakemore came to WVU in 1960 as a physical education instructor.

Among her top players were All-American Rosemary Kosiorek and Georgeann Wells, who became the first player to dunk a basketball in a women’s college game.

Elmore, who resides in Nitro, is a native of Walton. She was a point guard on the first women’s basketball team at Glenville State College in 1970.

Like Blakemore, Elmore is also considered a “Trailblazer” as she helped get the program started at the Gilmore County-based institution, where she is a member of the school’s Curtis Elam Athletic Hall of Fame, and women’s athletics across the state.

After Ravenswood, Elmore coached at Potomac State Junior College, winning 72 percent of her games.

She became the first female athletic director at WVU-Tech, then in Montgomery. She was the first female in the old West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to oversee an athletic program that had football.

While at Tech, she also served as head women’s basketball coach.

Besides the GSC Hall of Fame, Elmore has been inducted into the Potomac State College of WVU Athletic Hall of Fame, the West Virginia Unviversity of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Hall of Fame and the Region XX National Junior College Athletic Association Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame.

Potomac State’s annual award for excellence in female athletics is named in her honor.

It’s obvious Blakemore had a huge influence on Elmore’s career.

“Kittie was one of the main individuals who got women’s sports, both collegiate and high school, up and running in our state.

“For every young lady who is a student-athlete today, they can attribute their opportunity to participate in large part to Kittie Blakemore.

“She was a grand lady, loved by many and will be greatly missed.”

And in her own way, Kittie Blakemore played a part in the climb for girls athletics locally thanks to her mentorship of a young coach back in the day by the name of Sandra Elmore, whose stay was short but impactful at Ravenswood High.