Oregon Experience: Bill Bowerman

Interactive Timeline

Explore this timeline of Bill Bowerman's life and accomplishments.

Click on "IMAGE »" or "VIDEO »" to reveal an image or video from Bill's wife, Barbara, former students and colleagues.

Bill Bowerman's great-grandfather leads a wagon train across the Oregon Trail. The family settles on the banks of the Tualatin River but eventually migrates to Eastern Oregon in 1867, settling the town of Fossil.
Bill and his twin brother, Thomas are born in Portland. Thomas dies in an accident at 2 years of age.

Bill's mother enrolls him in the Hill Military Academy in Portland, Oregon for one year.
The Bowerman family moves to Medford where Bill attends Medford High School. He graduates in 1929 after excelling in athletics and academics.
Graduates from the University of Oregon with a degree in business. He was admitted to Oregon's School of Medicine but couldn't afford the tuition.
Teaches science and coaches football and track at Portland's Franklin High School for one year; then recruited back to Medford High.
Marries high school sweetheart Barbara Young. Bill and Barbara will have three sons, Jon, Jay and Tom.
Joins the Army's 10th Mountain Division and serves in Italy during World War II.
Discharged from the Army with four Bronze Stars, the Silver Star and a Good Conduct Medal; resumes teaching at Medford High.
Joins the faculty of the University of Oregon as professor and head track coach after legendary coach and mentor Bill Hayward retires in '47.
Starts youth-oriented "All-comers" meets held Saturday mornings at Hayward Field.
Begins cobbling lighter-weight racing shoes and tests prototypes on his runners. Bill tries to improve his athletes' performance in every way including monitoring their diets, experimenting with recipes for sports drinks and tailoring lighter-weight uniforms.
University of Oregon Track Team wins first NCAA championship followed by wins in 1964, 1965 and 1970.
Travels to New Zealand with his world-record-holding four-mile relay team and is introduced to "jogging" by coach Arthur Lydiard. Back home, with the help of the local media and local cardiologist Waldo Harris, M.D., Bill launches the first running clubs in Eugene.
Bowerman and former student Phil Knight each invest $500 to launch an athletic shoe distribution company called Blue Ribbon Sports.
Writes the book "Jogging" with Waldo Harris, M.D. More than a million copies are sold.
Organizes and manages the High Altitude Training Camp at South Lake Tahoe in preparation for the Mexico City Olympics. The U.S. Track Team proceeds to win more medals at the '68 Olympics than in any other Olympic games.
First U.S. Olympic Trials held in Eugene. Subsequent trials were held in 1976 and 1980. The Olympic Trials will return to Eugene in 2008.

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Blue Ribbon Sports becomes NIKE.
Bowerman elected Head U.S. Track coach at 1972 Munich Olympics.
Retires from the University of Oregon; continues to consult and coach Olympic runners, including Steve Prefontaine, and designs and consults for NIKE.
Inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. Bill Bowerman is considered one of the greatest track coaches in the world. He called himself a teacher.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and followers purchase land near Fossil for "utopian commune." Bowerman helps lead the fight against them.
Dedication of the Bowerman Building at Hayward Field.
Inducted into the inaugural class of the U.S. Track Coaches Hall of Fame.
Retires from the NIKE Board of Directors.
Bill Bowerman dies in Fossil, Oregon on Christmas Eve.
About Bowerman
Read more about Oregon's famous track coach
Writings about Bowerman by those who knew him best
Interactive Timeline
Explore a multimedia timeline of Bowerman's life and career
Writing on Athletics
Read some of Bowerman's many articles on the science of athletics and running
Jogging Slideshow
View a slideshow of pages from Bowerman's booklet

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