Jan Saunders, a Keyser High School graduate, ran on the WVU track club in 1976-77, along with fellow teammate Cheryl Nabors. Saunders was one of the first athletes, in addition to Nabors, to compete on the newly founded WVU Women’s Track team that began in 1977-78.
During the first year of the WVU team, Keyser High also formed its first girl's track team. Saunders was one of eight children and the oldest girl in the family. Her younger brothers ran cross country, track or were involved in other sports in high school and this inspired her to run for exercise and later to run at WVU. Her brother, Kirk, went on to run at the collegiate level for Davis and Elkins College.
Saunders followed the philosophy “preparation meets opportunity.” On top of her regular practices, Saunders would run with teammates for an additional 10 miles a day. During the first year of the WVU Women’s Track team, a total of twenty-eight members were led by Coach Linda King. Coach King entered Saunders into the mile relay, 880 and 440. During the 1977-78 academic year, the team set nine records, including javelin, high jump, long jump, 220, discus, three-mile run, two-mile run, two-mile relay and the 880, in which Saunders competed. She went on to state competition. She remembers this time fondly, as it created opportunities for other women at WVU.
Before attending WVU, Saunders completed her Associate Degree in Social Work at Potomac State College and her Bachelor’s in Biology at WVU.
“Track and field at the college varsity level takes hard work and team work. We had a great group of dedicated women, such as my teammate Cheryl Nabors, in that first year of WVU Women's Track and a great coach in Linda King.”
“I thank God and my parents for the opportunity to attend WVU. Much appreciation to CPASS Dean Dana Brooks and his staff for preserving our stories and contributions to WVU Sports Integration. I hope we inspire future generations.”
Saunders currently lives in New Jersey with her husband. They have one daughter.