Bill Bowerman was an American track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, Inc., one of the world’s leading sports brands. He was also a decorated military veteran, an innovator of running shoes and training methods, and a mentor to many Olympic athletes and champions. This article will explore Bill Bowerman’s net worth, wiki, age, height, career, and more.
Bill Bowerman Early Life and Education
Bill Bowerman was born William Jay Bowerman on February 19, 1911, in Portland, Oregon. His father, Jay, was a former governor of Oregon, and his mother, Elizabeth, was a teacher. He had an older brother, Dan, an older sister, Beth, and a twin brother, Thomas, who died in an elevator accident when he was two.
Bowerman attended Medford High School, where he played football and ran track. He also met his future wife, Barbara Young, there. He graduated in 1929 and enrolled at the University of Oregon, majoring in journalism and minoring in physical education. He also played football and joined the track team under the legendary coach Bill Hayward. He received a bachelor’s degree from him in 1935.
Career and Achievements
Bowerman began coaching at Franklin High School in Portland in 1934, where he taught biology and coached football and track. He moved to Medford High School in 1935 and led the football team to a state championship in 1940. He also coached track and field and developed several outstanding athletes.
In 1942, Bowerman joined the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was assigned to the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment at Camp Hale in Colorado, where he trained soldiers for mountain warfare. He later served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II and participated in several battles. He was awarded the Silver Star and four Bronze Stars for his bravery and leadership. In 1945, he made his way back to the United States as a major.
In 1948, Bowerman returned to the University of Oregon as an assistant track coach under John Warren. He became the head coach in 1949 after Warren retired. He coached at Oregon for 24 years until 1972 and achieved remarkable success. His teams won four NCAA titles (1962, 1964, 1965, 1970), six indoor titles (1965-1970), and 19 conference titles (1957-1972). He also produced 31 Olympic athletes, 51 All-Americans, 12 American record-holders, 22 NCAA champions, and 16 sub-four-minute milers. Some of his famous protégés include Jim Bailey, Bill Dellinger, Harry Jerome, Kenny Moore, Steve Prefontaine, Otis Davis, Dyrol Burleson, Mac Wilkins, Phil Knight, and Alberto Salazar.
Bowerman was also a pioneer of running shoes and training methods. He experimented with different materials and designs to create lighter, more comfortable shoes for his runners. He invented the waffle sole by pouring rubber into his wife’s waffle iron in 1971. After learning about it from a New Zealand coach named Arthur Lydiard, he also introduced jogging as a form of exercise to the American public. He co-authored a best-selling book called Jogging with W.E. Harris in 1967 and helped start a jogging craze nationwide.
Bowerman was also a co-founder of Nike, Inc., along with his former student Phil Knight. He started as an adviser and investor in Knight’s company Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964, which imported Japanese running shoes from Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS). He later became a partner and designed some of Nike’s iconic shoes, such as the Cortez, the Waffle Racer, the LD-1000, and the Oregon Waffle. He also helped shape Nike’s logo (the Swoosh) and slogan (Do It). He served on Nike’s board of directors until 1999 and remained involved in the company’s affairs until his death.
Bowerman was also active in other aspects of track and field. He served as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team in 1972 at Munich. He also helped organize several major events such as the Olympic Trials (1972, 1976, 1980), the NCAA Championships (1962, 1964, 1972), and the Pan-American Games (1967). He also founded the All-Comers Meets, open to anyone who wanted to run, and promoted Eugene as “Track Town, USA.” He also advocated for the rights and welfare of athletes and challenged the authority of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which he considered corrupt and oppressive.
Bill Bowerman Personal Life and Relationships
Bowerman married Barbara Young on June 22, 1936. They had three sons: Jon, Jay, and Tom. They remained married until Bowerman died in 1999. Bowerman was a devoted husband and father who supported his family’s interests and activities. He was also a generous and humble man who donated money and time to various causes and organizations. He was incredibly passionate about environmental issues and conservation efforts. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening, and reading.
Bowerman had many friends and admirers in the track and field community and beyond. He was respected and loved by his athletes, colleagues, competitors, and fans. He was also honored with numerous awards and recognitions for his achievements and contributions. Some of them include the National Track and Field Hall of Fame (1981), the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (1980), the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame (1984), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2000), and the Oregon Trail State Park (2002).
Bill Bowerman Net Worth and Lifestyle
Bill Bowerman net worth is estimated at around $400 million as of 2021. He earned his wealth from his coaching career, book sales, Nike shares, patents, and investments. He lived a modest and straightforward lifestyle despite his fortune. He owned a ranch in Fossil, Oregon, where he spent his retirement years. He also owned a house in Eugene, Oregon, where he hosted many guests and events. He drove an old pickup truck and wore plain clothes. He did not care much about material possessions or fame. He once said, “I don’t care what all the billionaires say. The only reason they’re not unhappy is they have a bunch of yes-men around them.”
Bill Bowerman was a legendary coach, a visionary entrepreneur, a courageous soldier, a loyal friend, a loving family man, and an inspiring leader. He left a lasting legacy in the world of sports and beyond. He changed many people’s lives with his passion, innovation, wisdom, and generosity. He was a man who lived by his motto: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”