Bill Bowerman

American runner, track and field coach, and businessman

Bill Bowerman (February 19, 1911 - December 24, 1999) was an American track and field coach at the University of Oregon. Bowerman was born in Portland, Oregon.[1] He went to high school in Medford, Oregon. After high school, he was a student at the University of Oregon where he played football and ran track and field.

William "Bill" J. Bowerman
BornFebruary 19, 1911
DiedDecember 24, 1999
OccupationTrack and field coach, co-founder of Nike, Inc.

Military careerEdit

Bowerman joined the United States Army after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was part of the 10th Mountain Division of the army.[2] Bowerman's job was to organize the supplies that the soldiers needed. He received the rank of Major during World War II.[3] Bowerman was given four Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Silver Star. He was honorably discharged in October 1945.[4]

Coaching careerEdit

After the war, Bowerman coached track and field at the University of Oregon. He did this for twenty-four years. His teams won four national championships in the NCAA while he was a coach. Some of his most famous athletes were Steve Prefontaine, Kenny Moore, Mac Wilkins, and Phil Knight. Bowerman also coached the United States Olympics team at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

He wrote a book that first taught Americans about jogging. With Phil Knight, he started the Nike company. Bowerman helped design many of the first shoes that the company sold. He died on Christmas Eve in 1999 at the age of 88.


  1. Bill Gallagher (June 2006). "Bowerman: The man, the legend and the new biography by Kenny Moore". Brainstorm NW.
  2. Moore, p. 67-68
  3. Moore, p. 77
  4. Moore, p. 81