FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The track and field located outside Fort Drum’s Magrath Sports Complex is now known as Bowerman Field.
Leaders from the 10th Mountain Division gathered on August 29 to honor William “Bill” Bowerman, who was a celebrated coach and served in the Division during World War II.
“Today we get the opportunity to celebrate William J. Bowerman, a man who fought in some of the most physically demanding terrain of the second World War, then came home to teach that same physical mental toughness to thousands of student-athletes and designed the shoes and athletic gear to allow them to do it,” 10th Mountain Division Deputy Commander for Operations Brig. Gen. Jason Curl said at the ceremony. “It is such an honor to have the 10th Mountain Division’s track complex named after a man like Bill Bowerman.”
Bowerman joined the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment at Camp Hale, Colorado in 1943. Bowerman was a leader during the Division’s deployment to Italy and eventually took command of the 1st Battalion of the 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment.
Leaders said that he orchestrated the surrender of 4,000 German troops near the Brenner Pass just hours before the German Army officially surrendered in Italy.
Bowerman is also well known for his time as a University of Oregon and Olympic track coach. During his time as coach, he won four NCAA championships and coached 33 Olympians, 38 conference champions and 64 All-Americans.
He later went on to partner with a former jogger club teammate, Phil Knight to form “Blue Ribbon Shoes,” which is now known worldwide as Nike.
The legendary coach and veteran had many empowering quotes, but one of the most memorable being:
“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, but to test the limits of the human heart” and “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
His legacy will now be kept alive at the Bowerman Field on the Fort Drum military base.
The memorialization ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring Bowerman’s many achievements and recognizing his service in the 10th Mountain Division.