Featured in our 5th Annual Faces of Sports Issue!
When I first talked to Gail Fitzgerald last year I was immediately impressed. The two-time Olympian and Pan American Games silver medalist’s personality is about as big as her 6’3” frame. Since then, Gale has served as an ambassador for Compete and the Sports Diversity Leadership Council.
This year she will be hosting a panel at the Sports Diversity Leadership Fall Conference. Entitled Gear Up Ladies!. it will serve as a developmental pilot for a talk show that is in the work – possibly with ESPN. As of this writing the panel is the early stages of planning, but Fitzgerald has already confirmed Arizona Coyotes’ director of community relations will sit on her panel.
As she prepares for the debut of Gear Up Ladies, I had some questions for Gale.
Eric Carlyle: What’s your personal story, Gale? Tell us something about you and what interactions you have had with the sports community?
Gale Fitzgerald: As an International athlete and as a coach for basketball and track and field at NYC Community College, Cerritos College, Mt. San Antonio College, Cal State Dominguez Hills University, I’ve been involved and around the LGBTQ community for over 50 years. I never really “came out” in the official sense but just lived my life as Gale. Because I respected myself as a person and demanded respect from all, respect was given. My tall stature (6’3”), my short hair, my androgynous look attracted both men and women to my life. I’ve been a free-being in spirit and mind with the confidence and courage to win in everything I do. I continue to win and assure everyone in my life wins also.
EC: How did you first get involved in sports?
GF: I walked across the street to a park and a coach there asked if I wanted to run track and I said yes. As a result of that choice, I was eventually able to run in the 1972 and 1976 US Olympic Games and also won a Silver Medal in the 1975 Pan American Games in the Pentathlon.
EC: Why do you love sports?
GF: For many reasons — to stay in shape and live a healthier, longer life; the sheer joy of watching skillful athleticism; my competitive nature as well as the art of the game. It also builds great discipline and structure in one’s life.
EC: As an LGBTQ+ athlete, what are your thoughts about the LGBTQ+ community’s inclusion in sports diversity?
GF: Athletes are great because they have the discipline, courage and drive to compete and win. LGBTQ+ athletes have even a special role in the world of sports – having the courage to be themselves no matter who they are in the sports world.
EC: Besides your Gear Up Ladies! talk show, what does the future hold for Gale Fitzgerald?
GF: My future goals are through my non-profit organization, “Higher Power Youth Academy” that empowers youth to become capable citizens through sports, education and culture. I want to build sports centers to train youth to become Olympic and professional Athletes and I also want to build a film and movie distribution studio in the Coachella Valley that rivals Hollywood.
EC: Thanks for hosting our panel, Gale. And for our readers, be sure to catch the developmental pilot for Gear Up Ladies on the Cloud Sports Network starting November 10.
By Eric Carlyle