DVIDS – News – Fort Drum Trail Commemorated For Legendary Trainer, 10th Mountain Veteran


FORT DRUM, NY (August 29, 2022) – The athletics outside the Magrath Sports Complex is known today as Bowerman Field, following a memorial ceremony honoring William ” Bill” Bowerman – the famous trainer, mentor, innovator and leader, who also served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

“Today we have the opportunity to celebrate William J. Bowerman, a man who fought in one of the most physically demanding terrains of World War II and then came home to teach that same physical strength. mental health to thousands of student-athletes and designed the athletic footwear and equipment to enable them to do so,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Curl, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Deputy Commander for Operations. “It’s such an honor that the 10th Mountain Division’s trail complex is named after a man like Bill Bowerman.”

Bowerman is best known as a University of Oregon and Olympic track and field coach who trained record-breaking teams and athletes and as a co-founder of Nike who pioneered athletic footwear during generations.

He coached one of the most dominant collegiate athletic programs in history, winning four NCAA championships from 1962 to 1970. Throughout his career, Bowerman coached 33 Olympians, 38 conference champions and 64 All Americans. He is credited with bringing the US Olympic Trials to Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in 1972 and then coaching the US team in Munich.

Bowerman has been awarded many memorable quotes over the course of his career, including: “The true purpose of racing is not to win a race, but to test the limits of the human heart” and “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

He took measurements of his runners’ feet to customize their running cleats and experimented with fabrics and materials, which became the blueprint for the modern running shoe he invented as a co-founder of Nike.

“Bill Bowerman never liked being called a coach,” Curl said. “He saw himself as a teacher and expected his athletes to excel in the classroom and apply the lessons they learned on the track to everyday life. One of the defining characteristics of our soldiers is that we are warrior-athletes. Many of us were most influenced by our coaches during our formative years. Bill Bowerman, having been a soldier and war hero himself, used this as a guiding principle. for how he developed young adults in his career.

In the 1998 film, “Without Limits”, a group of track and field athletes from the University of Oregon are waiting to meet the head coach, when a runner gives a warning to a new recruit before meeting Bill Bowerman.

“He was in Italy, during the Second World War, in the 10th mountain division. He negotiated the surrender of the German army…all of them. When he commands, you obey.

In January 1943, Bowerman took a train to Colorado, where he joined the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment at Camp Hale, Colorado. He was an accomplished track athlete, not a skier, but Bowerman came with a bit of track experience. As platoon leader of Company C, 1st Battalion, he learned military skiing and snowshoeing. When Bowerman was appointed Regimental Supply Officer, he became the proud owner of 200 mules.

Bowerman distinguished himself as a leader during the 10th Mountain Division’s deployment to Italy, and he eventually took command of the 1st Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment. He is said to have orchestrated the surrender of 4,000 German troops near the Brenner Pass just hours before the German army officially surrendered in Italy.

In the book “Bowerman and the Men of Oregon”, the author wrote that Bowerman liked to tell people that at the end of the war, army records indicated that he had 200 mules in his charge , but that 201 were counted in the corral. So he shot one of them to balance the books. Bowerman’s wife, Barbara, said that in reality he released many, and the Italian peasants happily jammed them.

After being honorably discharged, Bowerman returned to teaching and coaching at a local high school in Medford, Oregon. In 1948 he moved his family to Eugene, where he began his extraordinary career at the University of Oregon.

Bowerman is the author of a book, “Jogging,” which helped start a national fitness trend. Published in 1967, the book offered a medically approved fitness program for all ages – drawn from his studies at the University of Oregon, as well as other experts.

Bowerman also started Eugene’s first jogger club. A few hundred community members showed up on the trail on the first day. On the third day, there were about 1,500 joggers, and Bowerman had to turn people away until he could work out some sort of schedule for everyone. It was then that he began a draft of the manual for his jogger.

Runners needed shoes for this new American pastime, and Bowerman teamed up with a former miler on his team, Phil Knight, to make them. The company they formed was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, but later became known worldwide as Nike.

In the 10th Mountain Division documentary, “Fire on the Mountain,” Bowerman said the inspiration for their first Nike running shoe happened at the kitchen table during breakfast. The pattern he was looking for, something that would separate the mud from the bottom of the shoes, was found in the waffle iron. He poured urethane into the iron and a mold release agent to create the waffle sole.

“He (Phil Knight) sold them out of his dad’s garage, and they went like hotcakes,” Bowerman said in the documentary.

The commemoration ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring Bowerman’s many accomplishments and recognizing his service in the 10th Mountain Division.

“All of this is why it is so fitting and fitting that we name this facility after a 10th Mountain War hero who taught and trained so many athletes, designed the shoes we still wear today today and inspired the physical fitness that is so critical to our ability to conduct grueling combat operations,” Curl said. “Thank you, Bill Bowerman, for all you have done for us.”

Date taken: 29.08.2022
Date posted: 29.08.2022 12:22
Story ID: 428247
Location: FORT DRUM, NY, USA

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