Kathy Gleason Jachter

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Olympic Gymnast

Long before the sport of gymnastics burst into prominence at the 1972 summer Olympic games, Buffalo’s Kathy Gleason achieved recognition on the national stage in this demanding sport.

An alumna of Lafayette High School and Buffalo State Teachers College, Gleason began her rise by winning the U.S. Junior National Championship in Houston, Texas in 1965, gaining a spot on the U.S. National Team that toured Vienna, Austria the following year. 1967 was a banner year, as Kathy was a gold medallist at the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, and won the North American Gymnastics Championship in Chicago, Illinois. These achievements were the springboard to a place on the United States Olympic team which competed in Mexico City in 1968.

While Olympic competition is for many the pinnacle of athletic success, Gleason continued to compete in many other venues. She represented Buffalo State at the Student World University Games in Tokyo, Japan in 1970, winning a silver medal in the team competition. In 1971, Kathy captured the National Collegiate Championship at Penn State, and was recognized that year with the Nissan Award, given annually to the outstanding college senior based upon the criteria of scholarship, athletic performance and sportsmanship.

True to her roots at Buffalo State Teachers College, Kathy turned to teaching and coaching gymnastics after the conclusion of her competitive career. She spent 11 years operating her well-known private gymnastics school, the Niagara Frontier Gymnastics Club. At that site, Kathy trained elite level gymnasts, World University Games members, state and national champions, and a 1980 Olympic squad finalist. In addition, she founded the well-known Gleason School of Gymnastics, which is still in operation.

The sport of gymnastics has grown tremendously in local popularity in the past three decades, due in large part to the efforts of pioneers such as Kathy Gleason, who tonight becomes the first representative of her sport to join the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.