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Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Co-founder

posted by Todd
Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Co-founder

In light of the recent hype surrounding Oregon Grads Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay, we thought it would be appropriate to provide a review of the book that provides an incredible insight into the history of the program that developed these young superstars.Galen will be making his much anticipated half-marathon debut in NYC this weekend while Jordan provided fans with one of the greatest performances ever at an NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend.

This is no easy read, at nearly 500 pages you will certainly know more than you even needed to about Oregon, Nike, and the quirky Bill Bowerman.  However, for those who can remember or even admire a time when running was just taking off in this country it will surely be worth their time.

What makes a good coach?  How much can a coach make a difference?  For those of us who have been lucky enough to have a coach who changed us, the importance of such a person is truly significant.  I for one have always considered my favorite coaches to be mentors.  Not just in running, but in life.  It is clear from reading this book by one of Bill Bowerman’s former runners that he was the type of coach who made an impact on the person, not just the runner.

If you are a fan of track and field or distance running this book is a glimpse in to the world of track and field in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  While Bill is best known as the coach of the Oregon Ducks distance runners, he also coached a variety of events at the University of Oregon.  One little known fact was that his first Olympic medalist was not a distance runner but a 400 meter runner named Otis Davis.  Make no mistake; this is a book about running written through the eyes of a fine runner by the name of Kenny Moore.  Mr. Moore spent his entire running career being coached by Bowerman, and has a multitude of stories and lessons to share with his readers.  He cannot help but gush about Bowerman, with his goal setting sessions (which took place in his beautiful home) to his life lessons (often taught through pain and suffering).  He was clearly a great coach, one who innovated not just in the realm of competitive running, but recreational running as well.

While the book has a true focus on running, this biography also takes you through the twists and turns of a start-up shoe company which was to become Nike.  For a man who loved running shoes, a footwear company might have seemed like a perfect fit for a man like Bill.  However, with mass production comes inevitable sacrifices, and when it came to his life and certainly his shoes, Bill Bowerman was not one to compromise.  While this is a small part of the book, it is an intensely enjoyable addition to this running focused biography.

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