Legendary Oregon Track Coach (and NIKE co-founder) Bill Bowerman once said, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” I interpret Bowerman’s words as meaning that whether you compete for the Ducks at Hayward Field or you’re just starting your first exercise program, you should always be competing and pushing yourself. With this mindset, you’ll always be improving and achieving goals that would have otherwise seemed impossible. Bowerman instilled this belief in his athletes, and that same belief lives on through the students and student-athletes at the University of Oregon to this day.
Seeing Galen Rupp compete in the Prefontaine Classic last weekend brought back images of Prefontaine on the same track in the early ’70s, his moustache flowing in the wind. Pre and Bowerman were a powerful pair because they held themselves to a higher-standard of excellence, one that made them give 110% effort in all of their actions. If they gave it their all and still tasted defeat, they worked harder to win the next one and grow from the experience. That mindset was infectious among all who interacted and competed with them, and has had a 21st century resurgence in the athletic program through the mantra “Win The Day.”
Figures such as Prefontaine and Bowerman laid the foundation for the present-day success of the Ducks decades ago, and that is being reflected through the recent achievements of the athletic program. Success doesn’t come overnight, and it is never an accident. It is the result of consistent, detail-oriented action toward one’s goals, as evidenced by the “Win The Day” philosophy of the football team, the legend of Steve Prefontaine, and the legacy left by the man himself, Bill Bowerman.