Born: October 4, 1954
Roxanne Taillard Pierce was born October 4, 1954 in Springfield. Roxanne was an active and athletic child. She joined a tumbling class at 11 and was introduced to gymnastics in 6th grade by Barbara Fulkerson, a middle school teacher. After joining a local gymnastics club, she came to the attention of coach Ruth Ann McBride, the founder of MarVaTeens. McBride accelerated Roxanne’s progress and by the age of 15 she was competing at the elite level.
Roxanne was equally proficient at all of the gymnastics events, and also had tremendous crowd appeal. In 1970, she finished second in the vault and third in the uneven bars and floor exercise at the AAU Championships and was a member of the U.S. team, along with Cathy Rigby, that went to the World Championships in Yugoslavia. In 1971, Roxanne won AAU titles in the vault and uneven bars and finished second in the all-around. That summer, Roxanne was the star of the Pan American Games in Colombia. She led Team USA to a gold medal in the all-around and won the individual all-around, as well as the uneven bars and vault. The crowds in Cali gave her several standing ovations and she was proclaimed “queen of the games” for having won the most medals.
Roxanne made the 1972 Olympic team, which just missed a medal in Munich. The gymnastics competition belonged to Olga Korbut that summer. Roxanne did not perform as well as she had hoped, coming home empty-handed. Fortunately, the gymnastics events had concluded when the terrorist attack occurred, and she had already left on a sightseeing trip with her parents. In 1973, she finished first in the vault and uneven bars at both the AAU Championships and the USA Gymnastics Championships.
Roxanne enrolled at Temple University and competed for the Owls as well as continuing to enter major international events. In 1975, she finished first in the AAU all-around and balance beam, and made a triumphant return to the Pan American Games in Mexico City, winning gold in the uneven bars, silver in the all-around, and leading the Americans to gold in the team all-around. In 1976, competing for Temple, Roxanne won gold in the floor exercise, silver in the balance beam, and bronze in the all-around at the AIAW Division I National Championships. She also finished first in the balance beam and all-around at the AAU Championships.
After college, Roxanne retired from competition and took up handball and racquet sports. She moved to Albuquerque, where she became a firefighter. At 5’4” and 110 pounds, she was the smallest person in her battalion, but enjoyed a 24-year career that also included duty as a paramedic, and EMT technician and dispatcher. A lifelong competitive athlete, Roxanne became an accomplished club tennis player and recently became a proponent of pickleball.