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Rochelle Stevens

Track and field athlete and fitness center entrepreneur Rochelle Stevens was born on September 8, 1966, in Memphis, Tennessee to the Reverend Beatrice Holloway-Davis. She attended Melrose High School and took to running competitively at an early age. By the time Stevens graduated high school, she was a TSSAA high school State Champion, a National High School All-American, a city champion, and an AAU Junior Olympics National Champion. She attended Morgan State University on a full track scholarship and received her B.S. degree in telecommunications and sales from that institution. She went on to receive an M.S. degree in public relations from Columbus University and then began her professional track career in earnest, coached by her mother who had also been a college track star.

After her first attempt in 1988, Stevens qualified for the Olympics and went to the Olympic Games in 1992, in Barcelona, Spain. She won the silver medal for her performance in the women’s 4x400 meter relay race and came in sixth in the world in the solo 400 meter race. At the next Olympic Games, held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996, Stevens competed in the women’s 4x400 meter race again and this time took home the gold medal.

Upon returning home to Memphis, Stevens founded the Rochelle Stevens Health and Wellness Spa, where she developed exercise, diet, and therapeutic programs. She also started and continues to sponsor the Rochelle Stevens International Track Invitational Meet, which is designed to expose high school students to college recruiters and formal track competitions. The event is certified to qualify runners for the junior Olympics, senior Olympics, and the Olympic trials.

Stevens retired from professional track competitions in 2000, and began substitute teaching and then serving as a behavioral specialist at Cherokee Elementary School, which she once attended. She has worked as a spokeswoman and motivational speaker for many Fortune 500 companies, including Nike, Maybelline, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Bank of America. Stevens is a member of the Better Business Bureau, the Black Business Association, the National Speaker Bureau, and the Word of Life Ministry.

Accession Number

A2010.091

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/29/2010

Last Name

Stevens

Maker Category
Schools

Cherokee Elementary School

Melrose High School

Morgan State University

Columbus University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rochelle

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

STE14

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monte Carlo, France

Favorite Quote

Make It Happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/8/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Track and field athlete Rochelle Stevens (1966 - ) won the silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games and the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in the 4x400 women's relay, and now runs her own health center.

Employment

Rochelle Stevens Health and Wellness Spa

Memphis City Schools

Favorite Color

Purple, Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rochelle Stevens' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens describes her mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens describes her mother, Beatrice Stevens Holloway, as a young woman

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens describes her father, John Ollie Holloway

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens describes her mother's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens describes her sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rochelle Stevens remembers attending church at Living Word Ministries

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rochelle Stevens describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rochelle Stevens recalls living in Memphis' Orange Mound neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Rochelle Stevens lists athlete alumni of Memphis' Melrose High School

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Rochelle Stevens describes her childhood home in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rochelle Stevens describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens remembers her elementary and junior high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens talks about her study habits in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens explains the effects of 'Roots' airing on television

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens remembers playing in the Cherokee Elementary School band

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens remembers getting involved in running

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens talks about Olympic history and popular black athletes in the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens speaks about playing basketball in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rochelle Stevens remembers competing in the AAU Junior Olympics

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Rochelle Stevens explains how she became a sprinter

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Rochelle Stevens remembers beating Edward Temple's top recruits

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rochelle Stevens remembers her experience at Memphis' Melrose High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens explains why she attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens recalls her studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens talks about writing skills in her work as a behavioral specialist

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens explains why she chose to major telecommunications at Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens remembers competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens remembers competing in Yugoslavia and East Berlin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens describes competing in the Penn Relays

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rochelle Stevens remembers setting track records at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens talks about the events she ran

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens describes her athletic diet

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens remembers Greek life at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens describes her social life at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens describes her senior year at Morgan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens remembers the 1988 Olympic trials in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens remembers running club track

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rochelle Stevens remembers her track career picking up

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Rochelle Stevens describes trying out for the 1992 U.S. Olympic team and being trained by her mother

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rochelle Stevens describes her training regimen

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens lists the best European female runners in 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens talks about steroid use at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens recalls the 1992 U.S. Olympic trials

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens describes her experience at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens describes her experience at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens remembers her fame after the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens describes Florence Griffith Joyner's style

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rochelle Stevens describes her injuries in 1992 and 1996

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rochelle Stevens remembers competing injured in the 1996 Olympic Games

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rochelle Stevens remembers winning a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rochelle Stevens recalls suffering a career-ending knee injury in 2000

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rochelle Stevens describes the Rochelle Stevens Invitational Track Meet and sports camp

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rochelle Stevens talks about her activities outside of track

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rochelle Stevens reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rochelle Stevens reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rochelle Stevens talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Rochelle Stevens describes her hopes and concerns for the African-American community

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Rochelle Stevens describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Rochelle Stevens describes her experience at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, pt. 2
Rochelle Stevens remembers winning a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics
Transcript
How many roommates did you have [at the 1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona, Spain]?$$I had, I believe it was eight to our suite. And the rooms had to be about 8 x 6 [feet], smaller than a dorm room. It was just twin-sized beds and that's it. No pictures, no curtains, no nothing--just the mattress and a pillow, and they gave you your sheets. I was like, this looks like prison, you know. (Laughter) It didn't seem like I was going to be staying in a five-star hotel. They don't prep you on things like that. And you got eight suite mates all in this--$$It seems, it sounds as if the Olympic provisions were a lot less than what you were used to on the track circuit?$$Right, because on the circuit you're staying in five-star hotels. But when you're accommodating ten thousand athletes--those buildings were brand new, so it wasn't like they were, you know, too bad. But they built them according to their custom. They didn't really use air-conditioning in Spain, so we were hot. And this coach by the name of John Smith, who trained some other Olympic medalists, gold and world record holders, he said, "Ro [HistoryMaker Rochelle Stevens], they're going through the same conditions you're going through--the Russians, the Germans, everybody. Nobody has special perks or privileges." He said, "So, don't let this hot room get to you. Just know they're going through the same conditions you are." And with him just making that comment I stopped complaining, and it was like okay, they hot, too. But then we were like, "They're used to being hot. They don't have air-conditioning anyway." (Laughter) But I still put that behind me and looked at it as, you're not going to beat me. I'm not going to let this hot room or this hot weather bring me down because you're sleeping in the heat too. You're eating the same foods I'm eating. I just started putting it into that perspective, and I was able to halfway re-focus at the games in Barcelona [Spain]. But I ended up finishing sixth in the open 400 in lane one. And I think the worst I was supposed to finish was maybe third, but I never had lane one. I always had lane six, seven, or eight. And it was, I know I couldn't have been too focused because I actually saw the cameras as we was sprinting around the track. And you've got eighty-five thousand spectators and people taking pictures. I actually saw cameras flashing. I knew I was not focused if I was able to see people flashing those cameras. And it's like, I'm not going to ever catch up those girls. And so I was like, I'll just run for time, not knowing that it was four of us all running for the bronze. And when we all leaned, they had to come back, and those times were so close. All I know is I got sixth place. And my mom [Beatrice Stevens Holloway] was on the practice field waiting on me, and I cried because I was embarrassed. I got sixth place. I went in there with the fastest time in the world. You get sixth place, okay, you're sixth in the world. That sounds so good. But to actually get sixth place, oh, it was horrible (laughter) to tell somebody that.$$That's one race. You ran in how many races?$$We had to run rounds. We had to eliminate athletes every day. Again, we had four rounds, and I was the only American to make the finals. And so, that was a big deal to just make it to the finals.$$Okay. So you got sixth place in the--$$In the finals.$$In the 400 [meter] finals?$$Uh-huh, in the 400 finals.$$Now, you ran the 4 x 400 [relay], too, right?$$And I was the anchor leg for the 4 x 400, and Olha Bryzhina of Russia [Soviet Union] out-powered me the last thirty or forty meters of the race. But the plan was to give me a big enough lead so I could get away from her. But my lead was one step. That's not a lead when this is the same person that Flo Jo [Florence Griffith Joyner] couldn't catch four years earlier. And you know, Flo Jo, she ran like a forty-eight [second] 400 meter split and Olha forty-seven [seconds]. So, forty-seven will catch a forty-nine any day. Give me a big, big, big, lead. I got a one-step lead. (Laughter) I was determined that I was going to run her to the line. You know, I was thinking about Orange Mound [Memphis, Tennessee], I was thinking about where I was from. I'm like, "I'm from Orange Mound, you know." I'd give her that elbow and cut in front of her. Because technically, she was in front of me, but technically I just kind of ran a little dirty and gave her that cute little elbow and got in front of her. And interestingly, she was the person that I had studied for eight months because I was trying to figure out what was her running style, to run forty-seven [seconds]. And when you pull that tape and watch the race with us, we shift gears in the same place. We were the same stride. She was right behind me. It was like as if she was marking me. But in my mind, I had saw her in my mind for six months, and we moved in the same places, except she out-powered me at the end. That was the only thing.$So, what was it like to get the gold medal in the [at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia]--? And now, this, this is strange kind of, because you ran better before, but you didn't get the gold.$$Right.$$And here, you kind of limp into this one, and then get a gold medal. Does it cause you to be philosophical about life, or what?$$Well, the thing is, all I can think is all my life this is what I've been chasing after. This is what I've always wanted, was to win a gold medal for my country. And when my sister Catherine [Holloway] had died in 1989 of a brain tumor, you know, right before she died I had told her I was going to win a gold medal for her. And the press kind of brought that up, like, hey, you won this medal for your sister, and what does it feel like to win a gold medal for your sister and for your family? And it was just the most incredible moment. It was history that night, to be able to win and knowing that you're injured. And you know, it was just incredible. And to mention, I had this cosmetic make-up sponsorship at that time. I was a Posner girl, and they were promoting mascara to see, to make sure the mascara didn't run. And so, it was like I was this perfect model. I was sweating and it was a 100-and-something degrees outside, and my makeup is still flawless. My eye shadow and things were not running. I didn't have purple sweat and blue sweat and things. And I had told the president of the company--I had negotiated a bonus. I said, "If you all pay me this bonus, I can prove that your makeup is not going to run." You know, they was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah," and they fell for it. And when I was on that award stand, I just thought about all the hard work and the years that was put into it, and I started crying on the awards stand. You know, the tears was just rolling. And the Jumbotron was on, and I'm like rocking. You know, I was all emotional, and no mascara was running. So it was an extra good race for me, considering I got paid the bonus because their makeup didn't run on national television during the awards ceremony. They was like, "Wow, she tricked us," (laughter).$$So what happened? Did they have a bigger parade when you came back to Atlanta [Georgia] this time?$$We had more people from the mid-South to make the Olympic team the second time around. Penny Hardaway was on the Dream Team this time. Nikki McCray was from the suburbs of Memphis [Tennessee], Collierville [Tennessee]. She was on the women's basketball team, and they won a gold. And then we had Cindy Parlow [Cone], who's from the suburbs of Memphis, which was Germantown [Memphis, Tennessee], and she was on the soccer team. So, we came back with four gold medals. And the city just honored all of us at the same time downtown. And the county and city mayors gave us proclamations and keys to the city, you know. But everybody was more excited for them, because that was their first Olympics and they was more like, "You've before, so it's no big deal." I was like, "Shoot, but I got the gold medal." And it is not an easy thing to make the Olympic team. And when you do the history on it, only forty-four or forty-three Americans won gold medals. So, when you have ten thousand athletes and only one hundred and some medals are going to be given out that are gold and you're one of them, it's more than, "You didn't do anything." And so, I had to kind of just overlook, you know, people because they truly don't understand the commitment, the dedication, the hard work, the sacrifice, the pain, the agony, the disappointments, the lack of sponsorship. They just don't have a clue what you go through to achieve a dream.