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Bill Bowerman

Photo of Bill Bowerman

Inducted: 1981, coach

Born: February 9, 1911 - Portland, Oregon
Deceased: December 24, 1999


Career Highlights

  • Teams coached by Bowerman won four national collegiate championships

One of the nation's most successful coaches during his tenure at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman also was the inventor of the waffle sole for running shoes. In addition, he helped to spread the gospel of jogging to the people of Eugene, Ore., and eventually to a nation of joggers. While an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, Bowerman played basketball and football for four years and joined the track team as a 440-yard runner in his junior year. After coaching high school sports in Portland and Medford, Ore., he fought for the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1949, Bowerman returned to the University of Oregon to replace his former coach, Bill Hayward, who had died. Over the next 23 years, Bowerman produced four national collegiate championship teams plus two more that were runners-up. Individually, his athletes set 13 world and 22 American records. Among his 23 Olympic athletes were gold medalist Otis Davis, Dyrol Burleson, Jim Grelle, bronze medalist (and Hall of Famer) Bill Dellinger, Ken Moore, Wade Bell and the late Steve Prefontaine (who is also in the Hall of Fame). In the early 1960s, when he took his team to New Zealand for a competition there, he was impressed by the jogging boom in that country. Back in Eugene, he started the country's first running club and subsequently wrote a book called Jogging about running for fun and fitness. His message caught hold. He next created the first lightweight outsole shoe that was particularly well suited to distance running. After retiring from coaching in 1972, he became active with the Nike Shoe Company.

Education
high school: Medford (Medford, Oregon), 1930
undergraduate: Oregon (Eugene, Oregon), 1934

Occupations
Coach
Shoe design consultant

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