A Biography of Thomas Bowerman
Bowerman led an authentic cowboy lifestyle, even designing and building his two-story home to reflect this ideal with cowboy-themed wallpaper and light fixtures.
Bowerman led his track and field teams at Oregon for 24 years, enjoying winning records every year while winning four NCAA titles and finishing in the top ten of national rankings 16 times – an unprecedented accomplishment!
Early Life and Education
Bowerman held multiple careers before transitioning into education: collecting specimens in Central America, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and teaching rural Laos and Indonesian schools were all among his professional experiences before becoming a track coach at the 1972 Olympic Games and being instrumental in setting up high-altitude training programs for U.S. track and field athletes.
Born and raised in Oregon, Nike Cotez running shoe creator Bill Bowerman graduated from Medford High School before attending the University of Oregon for further studies. Beginning teaching career in Portland then later returning to Medford as football and track coach; most famous for spilling rubber into waffle iron to create unique sole design leading to iconic Nike Cortez running shoe design.
Bowerman was an outstanding professional baseball player who contributed 69 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1898 and 1909. Later, in 1910 he was appointed manager of London (Ontario) Tecumsehs.
Bowerman first experienced jogging while traveling through New Zealand in 1962 with Arthur Lydiard. Subsequently, in 1966 he wrote and published “A Jogger’s Manual”, a three-page book which became a best seller and is widely credited with beginning the jogging craze in America.
Bowerman put his entrepreneurial skills on display by co-founding Nike, now an iconic company. His creative mind led to unique ideas like shaving ounces off running shoes to reduce blisters and cut energy drag.
Achievement and Honors
As a college track coach, Bowerman earned four national championships and helped dozens of athletes break the 4-minute mile barrier. Additionally, his athletes inspired the jogging boom of the 1970s in Eugene, Oregon which soon became its running capital.
The Bowerman Award recognizes the top male and female NCAA track & field athletes each year. Votes cast by coaching staff, national media representatives, track & field statisticians, and track & field statisticians determine who takes home this honor.
Thomas often finds inspiration for his music while exploring nature. At a refuge near him he recorded some bird calls that will serve as soundtrack for a future symphony performance.
Bowerman made 977 major league baseball appearances during a career spanning 15 seasons with Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Giants, predominantly as a catcher but also spending time at first base and other positions infield positions.
His extraordinary coaching talents were well known among athletes at Oregon, winning four NCAA Championships and placing in the Top Ten nationally sixteen times during his 24-year tenure there.
Melissa Bowerman inherited her husband Jon Bowerman’s love of shoes. While looking through an attic box of items at their home, Melissa discovered a rusty waffle iron she used to create the first Nike sole before selling it back to Nike for $100.00. Jon Bowerman now sees Melissa as an example of being an outstanding role model.
Bowerman is best-known as one of the co-founders of Nike, an athletic wear company. As coach for 24 years at Oregon’s track and field team – producing world-renowned athletes along the way – his wealth soared before his death in 1999.
He is widely credited with popularizing jogging as an exercise method, founding a club devoted to this activity and even publishing books about it.
He was responsible for a number of Nike’s early designs, such as the iconic Cortez shoe. A strong advocate of hard work and determination reflected in their company values and beliefs; known for his humility and strong sense of community involvement he owned property along the John Day River and built a home still owned by his family today.