Barbara Belyea

Barbara Belyea

  • Year Inducted : 2012
  • Sport : Swimming

About Inductee


Barbara Belyea has been a familiar face on Huntsvilles sports scene for much of her life. She played volleyball and basketball at Whitesburg Junior High and later at Grissom High School, but swimming was always her primary sport. She swam for the Rocket City Aquatic Club from ages 10-17 and for the Rocket City Swim League in the summers. After winning four state titles at Grissom, she became an All-American swimmer at Memphis State before transferring to Alabama and developing into an All-SEC swimmer for five-time U.S. Olympic coach Don Gambril in 1976-77. Following graduation, she was hired at Huntsville High in 1978, teaching Physical Education, Biology and Physical Science and coaching both swimming and softball. She has also taught at Lincoln Elementary for 28 years, and has been Grissom Highs swimming coach for the past six years. She currently teaches PE at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. Belyea has also coached several local and area swimming teams for more than 30 years. She has been associated with Mountain Valley Aquatics for seven years, Rocket City Aquatics for 11 years, Huntsville Swim Association for 14 and Decatur Swim association for four years. Through my life, she says, Ive been blessed to be associated with many class individuals, from teachers, coaches and bosses. However, if I had to pick one person who influenced me most, it would be David Smith. Coach Smith was my first full-time swim coach when I was 15. He believed in my abilities and taught me about dedication and hard work. Coach Smiths practices were extremely hard and he always expected more of you than you realized you could give. He taught me that in addition to being talented as a swimmer, you must also have the drive and physical toughness as a competitor. David Smith has remained in contact with me as a mentor these past 40 years. Beginning at age 10, Belyea was swimming for the Rocket City Aquatic Club and various other clubs. At Whitesburg, she played volleyball and basketball, swam for Sam Sullins at Whitesburg and RCAS, and was state junior champion in two events. At Grissom, she played volleyball and basketball for Sherry Ammons and swam four years for Sullins and Ronnie Stapler, becoming a four-time state champion. An All-American swimmer at Memphis, she transferred to Alabama to swim for Gambril and to compete in the Southeastern Conference. She earned a BS degree in education from Alabama in 1977 and began her teaching and coaching career in Huntsville the following year. Her 1979 Huntsville High School swim team won the Boys State Swim and Dive Championships. She has been Grissoms swim coach since 2005, and her girls team won the State Swim and Dive Championships in 2008 and 2010. She is now in her 31st year with the Huntsville City Schools. Barbaras family includes a brother, Bruce Belyea, sister-in-law Teresa Belyea, and three nieces.

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