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Huntsville - Madison County Athletic HOF Member

NAME:Gloria Morgan-Farier
BORN:  
INDUCTED:  2018
SPORT:  track
  
Joe Henderson, the venerated father of the women’s track program at Alabama A&M University, knows outstanding athletes can be found at all manner of places – large, small and in between. A high-jump champion and a competitive middle distance runner at Alabama State in the 1950s, Henderson grew up in one of those small places – Prairieville, AL, a wide spot in the road 10 miles east of the “metropolis of Demopolis," where he attended a segregated high school, U.S. Jones. Years later when the school administration asked him to start a track program at Alabama A&M, Henderson was told to go out there and find some athletes, wherever they may be. That’s exactly what he did. He found them in big places, small places, and places in between. He found them throughout the South and around the country. He even found some of them who came of age outside the country, particularly in places like the Caribbean where stars in sports like soccer, track, cross country, and cricket can become national heroes in their countries of origin. Gloria Morgan – now Gloria Morgan-Farier – is one of these. One of the six children of Amos and Sylvia Morgan, Gloria was born in 1969, lived with a grandmother until age 11, then moved to the Miami area in Florida to join her parents, Amos and Sylvia Morgan. Like Usain Bolt, the greatest Olympic sprinter of all time, Gloria Morgan is a native of the island of Jamaica. So is Grace Jackson-Small, a three-time All-American sprinter for Henderson at Alabama A&M and later a three-time Olympian. So is Usain Bolt, the greatest Olympic sprinter of all time. So is Patrick Ewing, who was known primarily as a promising soccer and cricket player when he left Kingston at the age of 12 to join his family in Cambridge, Mass., in 1972. Over the next few years, he grew into a 7-foot basketball phenom, became a unanimous All-American at Georgetown College in Washington, a naturalized American citizen, and an All-Pro center for the New York Knicks. Gloria Morgan-Farier’s name may not be as internationally famous as Bolt, Jackson, and Ewing. Not many are. But take it from Joe Henderson: “Gloria deserves to be in this Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. She belongs. She’s right up there with anybody I ever coached. Gloria was always a quiet girl, almost shy. She’s a religious girl who always wanted to do the right thing. Whenever I’d suggest something to her, like running in one of the other events, she’d say, ‘Yes sir, Coach.’ She never gave me or anybody else any trouble. Sometimes you’d be looking around and wouldn’t even notice she was there. She missed her sophomore season because of a stress fracture. But even if she was hurt, she never complained. I can say this: Gloria was one of the very best recruits I ever got." The record book backs him up. Between 1987 and 1992 at Alabama A&M, she was named All-Conference in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 16 times, four times each year. Between 1990 and 1992, she was named All-SIAC in cross country three times. She was an eight-time NCAA Division II All-American. In 1992, she was the Most Valuable Performer in the Alabama A&M Relays. In 1992, she won the prestigious Cleve L. Abbott Award, named for a contemporary and colleague of the founder of Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington. In 2012, she was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame a part of “Terrific Twenty’’ class. Tonight, she becomes a member of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. “Nobody on that stage will deserve the honor more than Gloria," said Henderson. A friend who lived in Florida called Henderson one day in 1987 and said, “Coach, when you come down for the Florida Relays in Gainesville, you need to check out this girl from South Plantation High School in Fort Lauderdale. Name’s Gloria Morgan. Not a big talker, but she can run." When he watched her run in person, Henderson saw potential but not perfection. “I watched her in the 1500 meters and she faded a little toward the end,” he said. “But I thought she was going to be really good someday. She just needed a chance to mature a little." He also thought her best events would be the 800 and 400 meters, not the 1500. Not long after she arrived at A&M, Henderson took her aside and said, “Gloria, I think we should try you at the 800 and 400 instead of the 1500." She said, “Yes sir, Coach." A star was born. Prior to tonight’s banquet, Gloria was asked to write down a few comments about her successful journey as a top athlete after coming to America. Here is an edited version of her response: “Let me share my brief appreciation to all who made my athletic journey a success. I’m truly proud of my accomplishments. This evening is a testimony to hard work and dedication, through God’s faithfulness, guidance and ever-presence in my life. I quote Psalm 31:3: ‘For you are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.’ Thank you, God, for being with me throughout my journey and allowing me to be the successful athlete I’ve become. “To my dad, Amos Morgan, who had the same goals for me as I had for myself, who sacrificed and encouraged me along the way, and who did not let me give up or would not accept anything less than my best, I say thank you, thank you, thank you. He kept me on the straight and narrow and made the long trips to cheer me on in every performance. I owe my utmost respect and gratitude. My dad has been and still is my No. 1 fan. I can never repay him. My success is his success. “To my coach, Joseph Henderson, a hardworking man who saw in me my potential, taught me professionalism and self-discipline as an athlete, who kept my performances on the up and up – I am grateful. We experienced highs and lows together and at the end of it all, we always emerged winners. Your hard work paid off. Our years send together are golden. Thank you, Coach Henderson. “Along the way, I also had the support of others who helped me to think positive and stay focused, to be strong and continue to strive, because I was good at what I did. Thanks to those family members and friends who contributed in any way to my success. You are not forgotten. It took a village and I’ll forever be grateful. Thank you to my teammates as well. We made our own history. This evening speaks for itself.” A 1987 graduate of A&M with a degree in Office Systems Management, Morgan-Farier is now a service desk associate at Home Depot in Huntsville. She and her husband Patrick, a local accountant, have two children, a son named Patrick Jr. and a daughter named Morgan.