WRITTEN BY US
THE MEN & WOMEN
THE UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
TRACK & FIELD
Hugo ?Hugeaux? R. Miller
UF Track Team 1979 - 1981
James Pringle, Ron Coleman, Thomas Doerr, C. Diane Poole, Dr. Liston Bochette III, Charles E. McPhilomy, Donne Hale Jr. and Richard Grobman.
****Dedicated to the great men and women of the past, present and future
UF Track & Field Team****
I THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA TRACK & FIELD TEAM 1923 - 1963. In the Beginning by Hugo "Hugeaux" R. Miller
II FLORIDA TRACK DURING ANTIQUITY: 1948 - 1952
Written by Charles E. McPhilomy
Transcribed by Hugo R. Miller
III UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA TRACK AND FIELD HISTORY-1960-1969. The Pre-Florida Years 1960 - 1963. The Freshman Years 1963 - 1964. by Donne Hale Jr.
a) THE YEARS 1964 - 1965. by Donne Hale Jr.
b) HITCH IN YOUR GET DONE 440 Part 1: by Roger Johnson
IV THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT by Ron Coleman
V THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD PART 1: Jimmy Carnes Era
by Thomas Doerr
VI THE RENAISSANCE PERIOD PART 2: Jimmy Carnes Era by Thomas Doerr
a) SPEED CITY 1976: GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
How a Coach and the World?s Fastest Man Changed Gator Sprinters By Tom Doerr
b) The Pep Talk 1976:Athens, Georgia: UF Track & Field 1973-1976
By Tom Doerr
VII COACH CARNES and the LAST SCHOLARSHIP by Dr. Liston Bochette III
VIII THE HISTORY OF UF WOMEN TRACK & FIELD by C. Diane Poole
VIX THE YEARS 1977 - 1983 by Hugo "Hugeaux" R. Miller
X FOUNDING THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA TRACK & FILED ALUMNI by Hugo "Hugeaux" Miller
XI CHRISTIAN TAYLOR, The First Olympian Single Gold Medalist 2012 by Hugo R. Miller
Epilogue by Richard "Rich"Grobman
In the many years since I last ran track for the University of Florida I have learn to appreciate the friends I made and the memories. This documentation is about the history of the men and woman of the University of Florida Track Program. This history could not be told
in full without the help of many former and present University of Florida Track athletes. I would like to acknowledge Hugo Miller for his timeless effort he has put into compiling this historic information. I realize that not all of us who ran track at the University of Florida have the same experience. Some good some bad. As a whole we all grew as men and woman and have cultivated friendships. I surely hope this documentation will preserve the history of the great track athletes of the University of Florida past, present and future.
IN THE BEGINNING
The University of Florida was established in 1853. It has been at its present site in Gainesville, Florida since 1906. The university, a youngster amongst other neighboring universities and its sport department would take several years to develop. The most popular sport of this era was football and it began to develop around the 1920’s. For the university to compete competitively and officially it had to join several organization at the moment. These organizations had governing and ruling bodies for conducting the ethics of the sports. The Amateur Athletic Union AAU established in 1888 and in the 1900’s several athletes competed as apart of this organization. In 1894 the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association SIAA was established at Vanderbilt by chemistry professor Dr. William Dudley. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Sewanee, and Vanderbilt. Clemson, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Tulane, and Texas were it original members. The University of Florida joined 28 years later in 1922. Over some disputes several universities succeeded from the SIAA to form South Eastern Conference (SEC). The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) formerly known as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS).was founded in 1906 but became the NCAA in 1910. The University of Florida Track & Field program started around 1923 for the men and 50 years later before the women’s programs in 1973. It is written that during these early years in the SIAA, that LSU dominated Track and Field from 1913 to 1923. However Track & Field was not considered a domineering sport as to the like of football.
UF TRACK 1920’S
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association SIAA
During the 1920’s there was much debate about the “freshman one year rule” in the SIAA It appeared that the larger universities wanted to ban freshman athletes for one year while the small university wanted to include them. In this point in history it is rather hard to distinguish what was considered a large university and what constituted one as a small university. A heated debate over the “freshman one year rule” occurred and the SIAA choose to veto the “freshman one year rule” proposal. With this decision many of the larger universities succeeded from the SIAA to form The SouthEastern Conference (SEC). The University of Florida is one of the 13 charter members
Little or no information is written about this era. With the help of the coach’s chronology and a little common sense, I have created such a history. It is apparent that during this era football dominated the campus. The University of Florida was still in its enfant stage. Track & Field was probably seen as a conditioning sport for the football players during their off season. It was relatively to the likes of an intramural sport. However Track & Field was not new, due to the grandeur of Olympics. In 1916 due to WW1 the summer Olympics were cancelled. In the 1920 they were held in Antwerp, Belgium and in 1924 they were held in Paris, France. Due to the none popularity of the sport, there was not a head coach per se, but coaches and assistants from football who to make themselves well-rounded sportsmen took on the coaching task of coaching 2-4 sports during off-football season. Track and Field was one of them.
THE FRESHMAN ONE-YEAR DEBATE
It is theorized that one of the reason the larger universities succeeded from the SIAA to form the South Eastern Conference (SEC) was over the “Freshman One-Year” ruling. It is mentioned that the larger university were in favor of the Freshman One-year proposal while the smaller universities were against it. The SIAA vetoed the proposal and favored with the smaller universities. One of the theories were that the larger universities believed that freshmen must earn the ranking as a varsity athlete during this one-year probation. The smaller university believed that due to the size of their programs they need all athletes. It appears that one of the debates were “ethics vs. quantity”. The larger university believe that the freshman should develop a maturity and understanding of the program before being fraternized into the sport. However the smaller universities believed that the question was to increase their numbers to make their programs bigger. During this era football was the main focus. The University of Florida joined the SEC and indoctrinated the “Freshman One-Year” program. This program would remain in forced until the late 1960’s to early 1970’s when it was abolished. It would be interesting to note that quantity did out weigh ethics. It is important to notice what constituted as a large university when many of the university were less that 50 years old and still developing their criteria. It appears that many of the universities tried to impose an hierarchy of superiority amongst its athletes and competitors. There had to be a strong struggle amongst the athletes especially when freshmen athletes were defeating varsity athletes. This could cause lost of points in competitions if the two are judged separately. However in the outcome the coaches had to comply to the ruling body of the university.
UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
FIRST TRACK & FIELD COACH:
J. H. ATKINSON 1923 - 1924
It is documented that the first coach for the University of Florida Gators Track & Field Program was J. H. Atkinson in the years 1923 - 1924. Little is know about the man and little is known about his method of track and field coaching. I am apt to believe as with the formula of the coaches that followed him, that during these years J. H. Atkinson had some relations with the popular UF football of this era. He was either an assistant football coach or head coach. The sports arena during this era was Fleming Field. Fleming Field housed football and baseball games. It was a grassy field located along University Avenue with a few bleachers. It was subject to all weather conditions. It is apparent that this was also the site for Track & Field events. With no structural oval track formation, one is to believe that the oval track was made by the athletes who continually ran around in a circle and imprinted the track. For the sprints/dashes the straightness was no problem, however with the absence of lines the race began a dashing pack of athletes. It is interesting to know when were the hurdles incorporated into the program. I am mentioning The University of Florida Track & Field in its raw-enfant stage. Innovation was the driving force. Fleming Field was a great source for the field event athletes. I mention events because the UF Track and Field programs was not a structural organization. Most of the events were run on the grassy Fleming Field. This coincides with the many stories one hears about the Olympic grass tracks. It wasn’t until the 1930 when Florida Field Stadium was constructed. One of the trackmen documented during this time was the multi-sportsman: Robert D “Ark” Newton . J. H. Atkinson coached Robert D “Ark” Newton (active 1922-1924) . Robert D “Ark” Newton according to documentation was a 14 varsity letterman in Football, Track, Basketball and Baseball. Robert D “Ark: Newton recorded a 22 feet 6 inches in the broad jump to set an NCAA record. No information is available to verify if he personally attend a NCAA meet or was the information verified by witness(s), documented and sent to the NCAA for validation. However, Robert D “Ark” Newton brought some attention to the University of Florida Track & Field for future promotion. It is apparent that J. H. Atkinson was instrumental in making Robert D. “Ark” Newton feat known from Florida to the nation through a young NCAA organization, formerly known as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS).
UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
SECOND TRACK & FIELD COACH
In 1925, Harold L “Tom“ Sebring (1898 - 1968)
became coach of UF Track & Field. This was a jovial year for the law student Sebring. Harold L “Tom“ Sebring was head coach of The University of Florida Football, University of Florida Boxing and University of Florida Track & Field. I must note that more allocates were placed on football than any other sport. Track & Field was still considered an amateur sport teetering on intramural. He only coached one year at Track & Field, but was head football coach for 3 years. Nothing is known about his track & field coaching nor coaching methods. According to documents no NCAA champions were produced during Sebring short period. However Harold L “Tom” Sebring would finish law school and later become Justice Harold L “Tom” Sebring on The Florida Supreme Court and a prominent judge in the Nuremberg Trail of Nazi War Criminals.
UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
THIRD TRACK & FIELD COACH
A. C. Brown (active: 1926 - 1927)
proceeded Harold L “Tom” Sebring. Very little information can be founded on him. In keeping with the formula one can speculate that he was connected to UF football. This marks the year that there was a separate head UF football coach and head UF track & field coach. Sebring continued to be the head UF football coach. I am apt to believe that this was a turning point in the UF Athletic program. As the popularity grew, so did there need for better sport facilities.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION YEARS (1929 - 1939)
UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
FOURTH TRACK & FIELD COACH
Nash Higgins (1928 - 1933). Nash Higgins is the first head UF track & field coach whose reign was over 5 years. Higgins was an assistant UF football coach. Nash Higgins took over track & field in the midst of The Great Depression . Some is written about Nash Higgins who was under the UF head football coach; Charles W. "Charlie" Bachman's. Interesting enough, it is clear to state, that this went against the head coaching formulas of the past years. One would expect Bachman to be also head coach for UF track & field, however, he gave the job to his assistant Nash Higgins. Higgins was the first UF track & field coach who saw the University of Florida Athletic transition. He was in the middle of his coaching term (1930) when Florida Field Stadium was constructed. He had to be instrumental in trying to promote additional revenue to the new stadium through his Track & Field program, probably to deafening ears as Track & Field was not a revenue generating sport. With the stadium built, the main interest was football. As in the past baseball and football shared the same facilities, Fleming Field, now the two sports had separate venues. Florida Field Stadium was the new home for football. The question arises as to what other outdoor sport can benefit from this new stadium and bring in some additional revenue when football season was over. The answer was Track & Field, maybe. It is documented that the president of UF John J. Tigert and friends took out huge personal loans to build the stadium and the loan must be repaid. Modern thinking would be, construct a oval Olympic style track around the football field. However thinking of this era (1930’s) would mean creating a dirt track, which will produce mud when it rains creating a huge problem. It also would mean subjecting the center field to bumps and holes from the field sports. As documented, the first phase of the stadium was faced with a major engineering problem, flooding. Innovation breeds Opposition. I’m sure when the natural water began flooding the stadium, many nay-sayer took center stage. Many believed that it was built in a sinkhole. However, this problem was overcome. No one is sure if Nash Higgins was a advocate for UF Track & Field, but his six years as head coach must be honored. This was also a time of year when the Olympics would appears for the second time on the soil of The United States of America. The first year was 1904 in St. Louis and the second year in 1932 in Los Angeles. Within the upcoming Olympic year, the University of Florida Track & Field program had to be excited. Who would have known that a tall lanky twenty-four year old man from Kentucky would place 2nd (Silver medal) in the 110 hurdles at the 1932 Olympics and make a lasting mark on the University of Florida Track & Field Program years later: Percy Beard. After Higgins reign at the University of Florida, in 1933 the president of the University of Tampa Frederic Spaulding offered Nash Higgins the position of athletic director. The University of Tampa was just starting out with no money and was trying to built a university during The Great Depression. Nash Higgins took the position as Athletic Director and Head Football coach at The University of Tampa. I am quite sure he was instrumental in creating a track & field program also. Higgins was a man of vision. Today, the city of Tampa in honor of Nash Higgins hold the Nash Higgins Relays. This is an annual track & field event.
UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
FIFTH TRACK & FIELD COACH
Dennis Keith “Dutch” Stanley 1934 - 1936
Of all the University of Florida Track & Field coaches, thus far, Dennis Keith “Dutch” Stanley is the one which many of the athletes could identify with. Dutch was the product of the UF 1920 Football program. He is the only coach, at this time to have participated in a program which his was now coaching. Most of the coaches in the past were products of the University of Florida law school. He also was the first non-American to coach the program, being born in England. I am sure many of the young athletes looked up to Dutch because he new the athletic program and could teach them the ropes. He was a UF Letterman.
At this point I must mention that it is known, however I could find very little information on the track which was constructed and called Graham Field. Some mention it was located in the south end of the Florida Field stadium. I am not clear as to when it was constructed and was it a dirt, sand or pieces of cinder track with a grass or dirt infield. Verbal testimonies can give account to its existence but not of its history.
Dutch Stanley was instrumental in coaching the field events especially the javelin and discus, since these were his events as a member of the 1926-1928 University of Florida Track team under the duel coaching of A.C. Brown and Nash Higgins. In keeping with the formula of the previous coaching Dennis Keith “Dutch” Stanley also was assistant UF football coach, tennis and freshman baseball. He is said to have been the first coach of UF tennis (1932). It is very important to note that all three of these sub-sports (compared to football): track & field, tennis and baseball are relatively spring and summer sport, thus his focus was too sporadic to placed emphasis on just one sport. This goes with the theory of the time as “Being a real round Sportsman”. Having his focus divided into multi-sports leaves one to believe that much emphasis was placed on the title than coaching the sport. By this theory one is to believe that he favored one sport over the other. This question shall never be answered, however I believe tennis because of his winnings.
With Dutch Stanley popularity as being a UF Letterman and now coaching for his alma mater this became the fresh breath the University of Florida Athletic Department needed for unity amongst its varsity and freshman athletes. The “He is One of Us” played an important factors in the comradarie as each sport he coach vied for his attention. It is recorded that he first coached tennis from 1932 - 1940. He coached Track & Field from 1934 - 1936. There is no information on his freshman baseball coaching years. It is documented that Dutch Stanley has had the most winnings of his coaching career during and after with his UF tennis program.
Dutch Stanley is well noted for his bureaucratic approach to athletics. After leaving the University of Florida in 1939 to become an assistant football coach at Duke University, NC., Dutch Stanley returned to create a new program at UF: The College of Physical Education, Health and Recreation which was renamed College of Health and Human Performance. It was the first in the nation and from 1946 - 1970 Dutch Stanley was prominent dean. During the end Dutch Stanley’s track and field coaching in1936 the world was getting ready for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. A young American sprinter by the name of Jesse Owens was beginning to rewrite the history of The Olympic and America.
Jesse Owens had defeated Adolph Hitler and his ideology in the 1936 Olympics and a former Olympian was about to make history at the University of Florida: Percy Beard (1937 - 1964). There is some debate as to calling Percy Beard “The Father of UF Track & Field” but as his endurance shows, he coached this UF Track & Field for 27 years, truly a honor. He is also the Father of The Florida Relays a Track & Field event he created in 1939. Percy Beard was one of a kind and a new product to the UF Athletic Program. No UF Track & Field coach had the experience as he had. His “Been there done That” philosophy can be equated to his bronze medal at the 1932 Olympic in the hurdles in Los Angeles. One year before the Los Angeles Olympics Percy Beard set a world record in the 120 hurdles while attending Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in Auburn, Alabama in 1931. He also won the AAU (Amateur Athletics Union) in the hurdles seven times. He was the first track coach in the school’s history to come with a true knowledge of the sport. As with the formula of the past coaching there is no documentation which states that he was a multi-coach. Maybe with his expertise, his coaching was not questioned. I am sure that UF was quite elated to have an Olympian as a head coach. There is little information about how he got the position. Did he apply or was he recruited? It is documented that under Percy Beard’s coaching the UF Track & Field program won the SouthEastern Championship twice (1953 & 1956) and had placed second four times. It is also documented that he was a civil engineer. After 1959, he is documented as creating the first all weather track for the 20th Anniversary Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida. This was the rage in the Track & Fields world as the old cinder tracks were becoming obsolete. A solid test of his civil engineering degree. He is also documented as inventing the discus ring and the brush cement shot. It is also interesting to know that with his Olympic connections, did he seek the Olympic Committee for advice on setting up an Official Track & Field program at University of Florida and also, was The University of Florida his first selection for coaching because it leaves one to believe that he was a hot prospect.
Under Percy Beard’s coaching the “Freshman One-Year Rule” was in affect. He was the founder of the Florida Relays. Under his early coachman ship were NCAA pole vault champion Earl Poucher, two-time NCAA high jump champion J. Lewis Hall and Forest “Fergie” Ferguson (football All American and track) who won the 1942 AAU javelin to name these few which are documented. Things would become to slow down as World War II was approaching (1939 - 1943). It is stated that America entered WW II the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (December 7, 1941). This put all American living at a stand still including sports. An athlete makes the best solider was probably the philosophy of this era, as many young men were drafted. In the years 1943 & 1944 the University of Florida did not have a Track & Field team. It is documented that well over 10,000 University of Florida student and athletes served in World War 2. UF Football suffered also due to the war. At the age of 33 it would be interesting to know what part Percy Beard took, if any, in the World War 2’s contribution. After WW2 UF began to see an increase in it’s male enrollment. Many were coming back from war to finish up as others were entering. In 1963 Percy Beard retired as Head coach of UF Track & Field and began assistant Athletic Director of The University of Florida until 1973.
As documented by The History of UF/SEC Track & Field Champions, Percy Beard produced about 7 Indoor SEC champions and about 30 Outdoor SEC champions from 1956 - 1963. Due to the length of his coaching it is best probable to believe he has produced more SEC Track & Field Champion than his predecessors
It appears that in the beginning of The University of Florida Track & Field program, the sport, was looked at as a conditioning sport for football. The popularity of The Olympics was worldwide however, not much attention was captured in America until the 1930’s. The amateur status of the sport during this era didn’t unveil any special desire for a young athlete to become a track star, because Track & Field wasn’t considered a revenue sport in America.
There is no records about what delegation (names) of UF track athletes who competed in the track meets up onto the 1950’s. There is not original document/brochure of the first Florida Relays (1939) and who attended, yet available. Documented UF Track & Field History seemed to began when UF published the history of UF/SEC Track and Field champions from 1956. There is no documentation or team photograph of the first UF Track & Field team (1923), that is available During this research the oldest University of Florida Track & Field brochure that is in existence dates back to 1965. If any exist prior to 1965 they may be amongst .personal collections.
Looking at the University of Florida Track & Field programs between 1923 - 1963, a lot of information is not available. To make for a comprehensive documents, I must use a good bit of common sense. I must set world events to the era. These coaches didn’t leave any diaries or personal notes for future documentarians / historians to follow. It appears that much of their coachmen ship was due in part to building their athletic popularity with academics. The universities in the regions had gathered a consciousness of their sports departments as they were elders to The University of Florida. As with any program, trial & error must be the practitioner to achieve greatness, thus was the coming through the ages of The University of Florida Track & Field program from 1923 - 1963.
As I mention earlier in this document, there is some debate as to mentioning Percy Beard as the Father of UF Track & Field, as the man who would replace him in 1965, Jimmy Carnes, would eventually build a international University of Florida Track & Field empire. It is interesting to know what dialogue was set between the two as the programs changed hands.
My apology for any typo or grammar errors
Copyright Hugo “Hugeaux” R. Miller All Rights Reserved. Registered with the Copyright Offices of the United States of America, Library of Congress. USA
I was enrolled at the University of Florida by two high school/army buddies in September 1948, through the G. I. Bill. I rode to Gainesville from Ft. Lauderdale in a 1924 Model T. My first “dorm” room was in a WWII barrack with hundreds of other freshmen, at the airbase, which is now the airport. At the end of the first semester many of us moved to what were referred as “Temporaries” located where the O’Connell sits now. At the end of the second semester I enrolled for summer school and moved to Murphree Hall adjacent to the girls gym, where I remained until graduation in 1952.
Under the GI Bill:
We drew $75.00 per month (from which I saved $25.00 each month to pay for summer school and to help pay for when the GI Bill ran out.) Our dorm room cost ($20.00?) per semester our books were free. Our activity pass was ($20.00?) good for all athletic contest and other student activities.
The checks from Uncle Sam took a couple of months to kick in, which is normal for the government, so times were slim. Of my two pals, Bob was married and enrolled early; Joe owned the Model T and was with me at the airbase; Joe had a source for money (mom, Uncle); I had nothing! We ate every other meal, two meals one day, one meal the next, until he moved into his frat house. I had applied for a job immediately upon our arrival in Gainesville. It finally kicked in! I worked in the “Campus Club”, which was in the “old” cafeteria across from the old girls gym, adjacent Murphree Hall until I graduated. That took care of my meals! My meal ticket allotted me 35 cents for breakfast, 75 cents for lunch, 80 cents for dinner, and that was adequate. We worked for two and one half hours, everyday. That God for the opportunity to do that.
I forgot to mention that we had to ride a bus to and from the airport with our classes beginning at 7:40 am! And the back after classes and/or work at 10:00pm.
The student body was much older in 1948 than normal because of the veterans under the GI Bill. Most of us would not have had the opportunity to go to college without the Bill. We were in the last of the “Veteran Era”. By 1948 those 17/18 year olds who could avoid the draft were making a come back! Of course many of those flunked out and were gone by Thanksgiving. A Lot of those who were working their way through college on the Ol’Man’s dough did not last very long (which is just as true today).
During the war years, particularly 1942 through 1945, there were not a lot of college or high athletes. No body to play or coach them! If you were 18 you were drafted; if you were 17 you enlisted. All that was left were us little kids. In high school we had some intramural, but very little interscholastic. Many colleges dropped their athletic programs. Notre Dame, Army, Navy and the Great Lake Naval Station were super powers. Of course they had their choice of who they wanted. All they had to do was draft them and station them where they wanted! After the war many of those from West Point or Annapolis had another four years of eligibility at the college of their choice. With the rebirth of athletics at many universities the average age of the participants could be pretty up there!
I know nothing about Florida Track prior to 1951, other than the fact that it was located at the south end of the football field adjacent to the new gym, sitting down below the street above in front of concrete bleachers, 440 yards with narrow turns and cinder. The Florida Relays were hosted there as well as the state high school track meet. Athletes from these events would invariably come to the Campus Club at some time during their stay in Gainesville. As a physical education major I also help officiate these events. As I was cut from the attempts at football, baseball, even cheerleading, I survived in Track. I was planning on running the 220 (we did not have meters back then) saw that I was not going to make it there and moved up to the 440. Did not take long to see that I was not going to make it there, and started working toward the 880. Went home for Easter Week-End, decided to quit smoking on the way back, and the very next day coach Beard (Percy Beard) told me he was taking me to Georgia to run that Saturday. I asked what event, he said “2-miles”. When I regained consciousness…we loaded the bus for Athens, Friday, I finished second Saturday (we took first & second) and we rode the bus back to Gainesville. Thus I became a two-miler.
For home meets the track had to be marked with lime, six lanes all the way around, from the 220. We did not have starting blocks. Sprinters carried a spade or trowel to dig a hole in the track for his foot placement.
120 yards high hurdles
220 yards low hurdles
The 100 and 220 and both hurdles events were run in lanes.
All the other running events, except the 440 relays, you broke from the start; there was no break-line around the curve.
Spikes were ¾ inches, often they did not penetrate the cinder; the discs hurt your feet. We took salt tablets and vitamin C daily, but water was a no-no.
I recall very little contact with a coach; as distance runners we were largely on our own.
Somewhere along the line I recall doing running drills daily.
The Southern Relays and S.E.C. meet in Birmingham were miserable in 1951, because of the coal dust in the air; I am still coughing!!
I lettered in 1951 & 1952. It was a lot easier then. Working it around a full academic schedule, internship at Gainesville High School (where I also helped another fellow intern/track team coach) - The G. H. S. (Gainesville High School) and my job at the Campus Club was not enough for me.
I would do it again.
Transcribed by Hugo R. Miller
Copyright Charles E. McPhilomy All Right Reserved. Permission Granted
1) Charles E. McPhilomy “Coach Mac” is the retired head Track & Field coach at Sandalwood Jr-Sr High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Hugo R. Miller attended Sandalwood Jr-Sr High School and was coached by “Coach Mac” from 1977 to 1979.
by DONNE HALE, JR. - BSPE ‘68
THE PRE FLORIDA YEARS - 1960-1963
Ahhhh! The ‘60’s as a teenager was fast and furious, with no time to think, but also no time to waste.
During my pre- UF years at Forest Hill High in West Palm Bch , Florida, I was wrapped up in sports such as football, basketball, track & field, and baseball. We had not only great coaches, but also great athletes that could and did win championships. Some of these stars moved on to the UF on scholarships, such Harry Winkler in basketball and later on in track and field. Frank Saier went to Furman on scholarship, but later transferred with Jimmy Carnes to the UF on scholarship. Later in history Jimmy was putting together the foundation of his dream team, by bringing all of us back together during the foundation years of 1965-1968. Always wanted to go to the UF in my Jr. and Sr. year but my parents couldn’t afford it during those times. With my mom disabled in a wheel chair from a car accident in 1960. So, it was up to me to get a scholarship in track. Lettered in track 1961, 62, and 63; and lettered in football 1963. Went to State in Jr & Sr years in track placed 5th. With 1st place all being very close at the finish line. Undefeated in Sr. years along with our team. Frank Saier and Harry Winkler were setting records every meet including state. They were also great basketball players and football players. My event was the 440yd. dash, nothing longer, as we will discuss later in my freshman year at UF.
Season over and graduated, but no scholarship offer, and looked like the military was my next option, during the Viet Nam War. I had committed myself to that possibility. Then, my step-father informed me that his boss gave me a 4 Yr. gift to the UF as a graduation present! Wow! God must have been looking after me. So, that summer, I worked a construction job, along with Winkler from 7-4pm in the heat of south Florida as laborers.Hot!Hot!Hot I also continued to work out in the PM. Tough and hard summer, but I had something to work towards and stayed in great shape. My commitment to run for the UF was a burning desire, and was going to be ready to try out for track in the spring of ‘64.
Of course, I didn’t know about fall XC and indoor track at the time. Never ran anything over 440yds in my life, let alone cross-country. That is until I ran into a very special man on the old Graham Field cinder track one rainy, drizzly, fall, and September afternoon at the UF. This brings me to the next phase of history through my eyes of UF TRACK & FIELD ‘60s HISTORY.
FRESHMAN YEAR- 1963-1964
Arriving at the UF in early September, a week before classes began, everyone was running around like a bunch of unorganized ants, looking for their rooms and check-in with the dorm supervisors. We all remember those days, and somewhat scary after your parents dropped you off with all your world belongings. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it was scary, that this is your future home of 28,000+ other students enrolled and all you have is one footlocker and maybe a suit case in case you get home sick and decide to go home to see mom and dad! That is if they let you back in the house, especially Dad. Anyway, after registering with your dorm manager, meet your roommate, and find out where to eat (back then The University Inn was curriculum orientation the next day at Tigert Hall Administration building with your assigned counselor and sign up for your courses, if there were any left. Couldn’t believe the lines and it was an all-day affair and very exhausting. Now, if you were a scholarship athlete first year, you already were assigned to counselors just for athletes, because they had practices and obligations to fulfill. That gave another incentive to get on athletic scholarship next year.
Yes, everyone who ever went to college in the 60’s remember those days of registration and their freshman year of oblivion. The year or The Gators Beating #3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and campus was taken over by wild uncontrollable students, stealing fire trucks, streaking across campus all night. WOW! Remember the all night Gainesville Drive-in movies with The Bat, The Fly and The Sider all in one night? The Florida Theater in downtown with lines wrapped all the way around the block! Sometimes a couple more lines with movies like The Great Escape?
Orientation was in the old Florida Gym with approximately 15,000 frosh (not sure about that number but close) and the officials telling us that only one in three will be back next trimester. This was the first year UF was implementing this system, and the counselor overloaded me with 16 hrs. in engineering and required subjects, s you could graduate in 3 yrs. After a week of finding your classes, orientation, getting your books for the courses, it was time to think about training .Back at the dorm (which is 3 stories over and old archway which gave access to student traffic to the court yard) I found out from “others” that this particular dorm was known for water balloons thrown from the upper rooms on passersby. Sometimes funny but if caught you went in front of the student body honor court and could face suspension.
Started working out the first week of classes @ the physical education department’s cinder track known as Graham Field, used by the PE department for classes some days. There wasn’t anyone else using the track , so I pretty much had it to myself, not knowing there was a varsity track out on the other side of the stadium (Florida Track). About the second week working out on cinders, I was finishing up with my work out after 8x220’s and 2x660”s on a cool, cloudy, drizzly day when I noticed for the last 20 min a tall slender older man with a long trench coat and brim looking hat, watching me working out. He walked towards me at the end of my workout and waited near my sweats. After I finished my last 220yd. and putting my sweats on he came closer and introduced himself as Coach Percy Beard as the Head Track & Field coach at the University of Florida. Had no idea how famous he was as an Olympian in the track and field world. He asked my name and if I was attending the UF and if I was running cross country this year. I said “what is that” honestly? He explained briefly and asked me to go see Coach Walter Welch, coach of the UF Cross Country team and he would be found down at the Florida Field Track on the other side of the stadium. Coach Beard said that Coach Welch would get me shape for indoor and outdoor track.
Went to the Florida Track to meet Coach Welch the next day to workout. I wasn’t too keen on running three miles to compete, let alone do the grueling workouts associated with that distance. I mentioned this to Coach Beard as well as Coach Welch. When Coach Welch saw that I was reluctant in trying out for the team , he explained some facts to me about the benefits of XC running for middle distance runners. When he mentioned that he had anchored the world record mile relay team at NYC , I was all ears. XC was beneficial to him and middle distance runners for many reasons. They were of many; (1) keep you in shape during the off season so you will be ready for indoor and outdoor season, (2) gives you endurance, stamina, strength, and will allow you to drive harder to the finish line, and (3) gives you more speed because of overemphasis during fatigue. After listening to him for 30-45 minutes, I was convinced to start the next day. After making the team in two weeks, I was ready for our first meet. Coach Welch was a hard coach, but he would always tell us that there was no room for excuses. That, only hard work will get you to the top.
The 1963 frosh XC schedule was intense for all 7 of us competing. Our team consisted of Dieter Gebhardt,(my roommate when I returned to UF in 1966), Larry Powell, David Wilson, James Shalls, Terry Losonsky, Gary Mahla, and me. Our first meet was Oct. 11, in Gainesville. Wilson won, Deiter 2nd and surprising I was 3rd. We swept the meet and won of course and stayed undefeated from the 1962 team. A good start! After our first meet we were on the way to another undefeated season. Other meets we went to were Atlanta, Miami, Callaway, Ga.
We always piled into station wagons, usually 2 and drive for anywhere from 6-10 hours the day before we had to run. Atlanta was the worst since expressways were incomplete back then, same with Miami. Depending on traffic jams , accidents, and bathroom breaks. Eight to ten hours , if lucky. The coaches wouldn’t stop unless you started yelling loud enough or jump him from behind with a choke hold(just kidding! Everyone remembers those trips). Atlanta was my first big trip out of state, so I was excited to see a big city north of West Palm Bch, Fl.The varsity with Charles Goodyear, Jim Brown, Tommy Harrell, Danny Wells, Donatello, Art Funk, and Bill Opperman were also winning with Goodyear winning everything he ran. We tagged Goodyear as “The Machine”. The varsity were third in the SEC Championships behind Georgia Tech and Auburn, whom they beat in regular season. By the way, a story on Bill Opperman. Bill also rode 10 speed racing bicycle (same as most of us @UF) and competed in long distance events around the country when he could. His dream was qualify the USA Olympic Team in ’64. When the tri-mester was over he would leave campus with a back pack and headed to his home for the school break. He lives in Miami, Fla. He would make it in around 3 days, if no complications. Camping out, and enjoying the great outdoors. Right? Well, on this trip during Christmas he has an accident with some car and knocked down into a small ravine. Not badly hurt, he drags his bike back up the hill (swearing at the top of his lungs of course) and looks for the person who hit him. Found him and proceeded to try and kill this guy. Luckily the police were there to pull him off. Now, Bill is built like football player, big, strong and also runs cross country (like a tank), and it took 3 police officers to pull him off. After he filed the reports and medics treated his minor wounds, he made a survey of his bike and the damages incurred. Realizing that his bike was beyond repairs, he got pissed off again and tossed his $300 bike over the cliff and started hitchhiking to Miami. We couldn’t stop laughing when we heard that tale. He did (I believe) make the Olympic team. His was also German, so he had two countries to qualify.
Goodyear use to wear oversized shorts at workouts and at meets. He was in to the mechanics of running. He always looked baggy when he ran, so I broke down and asked him the reason for these “non-fashionable” shorts. Being our senior leader, he responded and explained that form fitting shorts put pressure on his abdomen and cut circulation on his legs. Pressure would put strain on his system. All of us agreed, but we still wore our nice form fitting outfits provided by UF since we were in the age of style. The SEC meet back in those days were tough. During the Coach Chuck Rowe era, when Tennessee was a power house. It was a big upset that Tennessee didn’t win the SEC. It did a lot for Florida’s recruiting. Goodyear was All-SEC with Tommy Harrell, Jim Brown and Bill Opperman scoring high for points and also with times that were better than the previous year’s SEC champion, 2 years in a row from Mississippi State, Jimmy Taylor.
The freshman team went undefeated for the season, winning the State Meet unofficially over the State schools and Jr. Colleges. Wilson was winning all the earlier meets in the season, but at the end of the season Dieter and I came on strong with Deiter winning beating me at the line to have the privilege of being the top frosh to go to the freshman SEC Championships. Our times were faster than the varsity was running 2 years earlier, which made the XC and track staff very optimistic for next year and for track season.
With cross country season over and final exams upon us, we were restless to run somewhere to keep us tuned for indoor season. On Thanksgiving weekend Tommy Harrell, Jim Brown, Charlie Goodyear from the varsity, and David Wilson and I left on Tuesday afternoon after our last exam and started our adventure to run in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5 Mile Handicap, in New Orleans. Since Tommy Harrell lived in Pensacola, FL. we stopped in late evening to sleep over, and leave the next day on our second leg. Arrived in afternoon to work out on the course ,which was Canal Street and very scenic. Next day we had breakfast early and checked in for a physical (BP), make sure we were medically eligible. Received our handicap brackets. Charlie, Tommy, and Jim were in the scratch bracket, while Dave and I were in the one minute. If SEC rules would allowed the UF to run as a team we would have won the team trophy. But, due to the 1 year freshman rule it wasn’t allowed. Fourth and fifth best times turned in by Charlie and Tommy. Jim was 16th. I placed 62nd or 18th in time out of 150 competitors. Wilson was 11 places in back of me. After we all had our Thanksgiving Turkey dinner at this New Orleans Athletic Club in the middle of downtown and received our awards. We got cleaned up and decided to check the famous Bourbon Street and of course Pat O’Brian’s. I was still 18 yrs. young and no intension to imbibe(since I didn’t. ) But the beverage laws were 18 then and my varsity friends were very protective of me and decided to introduce me to “the taste of New Orleans” with buying me my first Hurricane. Didn’t remember too much after we left Pat O’Brien’s.
Next morning back on the the road and looking at 12-15 hr. trip to Gainesville Florida non-stop. Most of us had family obligations . Some short distances and me another 6-8 hrs. To West Palm Beach. We all had to be in classes Monday. Ran into some severe thunderstorms in the panhandle of Florida, after we ditched Tommy and Charlie in Pensacola. Had to stop many times switching drivers due to sleep deprivation, exhaustion from the race and of course our episode on Bourbon Street. Ha!Ha!Ha! Finally , made it back to G’ville at close to 11pm with lots of t-storms, high winds, rain (not uncommon this time of year in the middle of the state). Since there weren’t anybody on campus, it was the spookyish night I can ever remember. I slept for 3hrs. And then left for home. Back then freshman weren’t allowed to have vehicles on campus, so I had no transportation, then I hitch hiked to West Palm. I was fortunate to get picked up by a trucker all the way to small town near Lake Okeechobee and then picked up another ride cross state into WPB. Rolled into the house around 9 or 10am to have given me late breakfast. Parents purchased a bus ticket on Sunday back to school on Monday.
This was probably a typical Thanksgiving weekend for a lot of freshman throughout the decades of UF history and that’s why told this story and hope I didn’t bore everyone. We were young, energetic, ambitious and sometimes stupid in our decisions. Even sometimes not realizing the dangers lurking in the shadows and bringing heartbreak to parents.
After finals in December headed home to wait for grades to arrive. When they finally arrived I was disappointed and had to rearrange my life and my journey back to the UF so I could continue my track career. See everyone in 1966.
Before I leave this part of 1963, we should all remember that this nation had a very tragic period during the Thanksgiving week, when Americans lost John F. Kennedy. The UF went into mourning and all classes were cancelled. These were very trying times in all aspects of our lives and changed the direction 0f the future dramatically.
Copyright Donne Hale Jr. All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
After receiving my grades from UF, and put on suspension for the next tri-mester, I had to figure out what to do about returning to “Gatorland” to continue my education at the UF.
In order to continue the history of UF during these next couple of years (through my eyes). We must be able to lay the foundation work for the return years of competition 1966-1968.
During the time, I kept in touch with UF Track Team, Walter Welch, Percy Beard, and later with Jimmy Carnes for updates on meets that I could participate in as unattached. I also was in touch with Miami Dade Jr. College for enrollment for the spring session and accepted later to continue my studies.
Some of these meets were very important to me and the UF granting a full scholarship after my graduation from MDJC in 1966. Some meets were very competitive with major colleges whereas I was the only JC athlete invited due to the influence of UF coaches pointing out my desire to compete. One meet was in Kingston, Jamaica where I competed against Olympians of 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I didn’t recognize any UF athletes at that at that meet but the experience and memories were invaluable.
In meets where UF members are competing I will mention their names, so maybe they can be located also for impute during these years. They may be able to contribute those lost years at UF in which I wasn’t competing for UF 1964-1966.
Well, with that being said, I will begin with a brief history of my “march back to UF Gator Track and Field the greatness of those years for UF and Jimmy Carnes’ dynasty 1966-1968. Hope everyone enjoys the experiences and bring back fond memories of your track careers. I know there are a lot you out there that have similar experiences, both great and some not so great, during those UF Track and Field days and this is an opportunity to express yourself and send in your comments, pictures, experiences and get involved with your history at the University of Florida. Well, here it goes! Enjoy.
UF HISTORY-1964-1965, continue
After the shock of suspension, my parents allowed me to come home to live with them until my suspension was completed. Of course, I was allowed to stay with them and my 3 brothers, only under certain conditions set by my parents (ugh!). One of these conditions was employment, since I was required to pay $10 per week rent. Found a full time job as a stock boy at Publix Supermarket in evenings and frozen foods during the day. Made $2.25/hr. +tips if, needed me for bagging. By the way, “bag boys” in those days made good money since people were tipping. Since I was a track man I would run back as fast as I could to get the next “big tip’! The other bag boys were resentful, because they thought I was trying to impress the management. We all had a big meeting in stock room (fight), and after I beat them (ex-golden gloves runner up in late 50’s and dad was a former marine boxing champion in WWII) we had no problems afterwards. I was doing it to stay in shape. After my 8 hr. shift I would run home, about 1.5 miles, which was a good warm-up for the workouts that evening. My neighborhood was on little over a quarter mile circle, which was a perfect track work out for intervals. Not much traffic at 10pm and it was side walk all the way. There were no leash laws back then, so there might be a loose dog trying to get me. The neighbors knew my story and ambition to keep running were helping in that respect. Kids were always trying to play jokes on me. Once a week I would go to Palm Beach High School and climb the fence to work out on a “real track”. How many of us have done that during our careers throughout the many years of track athletes trying to train under adverse conditions? Decided to kept a log of all my workouts (still have it somewhere) in case was recruited later on, but mainly to see if I was logging the miles to compete in the spring for 440yd and 880yds! I ran distance on Saturday and Sunday. Coach Welch sent a workout schedule to me so I could stay in shape. God bless him, he was always there for me during these depressing times of indecisions. We stayed in touch all through the next two years until my return to UF.
Through January, February and March of 1964, training increased form staying in shape, to quality workouts concentrating on repetition and speed. All the hard training that I was doing would get a chance to pay off at my first major college track meet being held a FSU in Tallahassee, FL. on May 2, 1964, which was known as The Florida Invitational Track Meet. Thanks to coach Welch and the other coaches (the SEC and ACC), they allowed my entry application as unattached. The teams were; UF Variety and UF Freshmen; Tallassee AC, Jamaica AA,; Unattached-John Brogle-graduate MDJC, Myself, Steve Rappandher- U of Miami AC; UGA-Coach Spec Towns 1928 Gold Medalist with Lewis Gainey-NCAA LJ Champion; FSU was coached by the legendary Mike Long. The old Atlanta Striders also competed.
University of Florida Varsity Entrants: John Anderson, Tony Bascilli, Wayne Bolden, James (Jim) Brown, Selwyn Chalker, Leon Chira, Mike Docsh, Austin Funk, Charles Goodyear, Rick Haley, Tommy Harrell, Al Hoffman, Ken Frassy, George Leach, Mike Negin, Bill Roberts, Pete Rowe, Peter Skafte, Lamar Stevens, John Wallace, Dan Wells, Jerry Wilson, Coach Percy Beard.
University of Florida Frosh Entrants: Jim Devaney, Dieter Gebhardt, Scott Hagar, Roger Johnson, Teddy Knight, Ed Mahoney, Larry Powell, David Wilson, Harry Winkler. Coached by Walter Welch.
UF T&F History-1964-1965-con’t
The Florida Invitational was my first big college meet and my goal was to break two minutes. Didn’t place to high (11th out of 22) with a time of 2:00.8, but I was able to experience my first taste of the “big time varsity competition as a freshman. I needed to increase my workouts and train smarter, in order to compete at that level. UF Varsity, Jim Brown and Dieter Gebhardt beat me, but managed to take the finish line in front of my old frosh teammates Larry Powell and Al Hoffman. Any way, it was a good experience in competing against UF and other competitors on my first outing and running on a cinder track( very slow by the way). Besides , I got to see Coach Welch and Coach Beard, who were responsible for my debut .
After the Florida Invite, I started to compete in summer meets in the Miami and the West Palm Bch. Areas. Winning most of the meets that summer it helped my exposure to other colleges and coaches. My application to re-enroll to Miami-Dade Jr. College was accepted for the 1964 summer session, and it looked like my career was on track to return to UF. Joined the Jeronimo Track Club of Miami, Coached by Bob Downs( later offered a full-scholarship to UM). Finally began summer classes @ MDJC and ran my last summer track meet at MDJC. I met the MDJC Coach, “Pappy” Holt who offered to let me try out for XC. They offered no scholarships in those days at Jr. Colleges, since baseball (national champs 3 or 4 times) received 80% of those scholarships and rest went to basketball). Anyway, after my last summer meet ,in which I broke the 2minute barrier (and won the meet breaking the previous record and beating a very talented UF varsity half miler, AUSTIN FUNK), I “walked-on” to run XC. Didn’t care, just wanted to be competing with an organized team and have exposure to the track and field world.
First year @ MDJC 1964 XC I was ineligible0, since I competed as a freshman @ UF. Traveled with MDJC at no cost to me, but paid my own Won all home meets and placed in the five on the road. Thanks to”Pappy”, other Universities would be interested in my servic
Thanksgiving weekend 1964 (guest what ? You guessed it. New Orleans) . Jeronimo Track Club wanted to send a team to the New Orleans 5 Mile Turkey Trot Handicap Race, since we had very good talent in the area from Univ. of Miami, and MDJC, and possibly win the open division team championship. After last year’s adventure at UF going to this meet, I didn’t really want to punish my body again! Anyway, I accepted, since they are my teammates and friends @ UM. Jeronimo team picture enclosed. Forty teams have entered, but no one from UF this year( I guess no one wanted to go through the torture). Another long, long, extra-long trip from Miami to New Orleans with a stopover in Tallahassee. I won’t go into details but it was another “Adventure” for the history books. We placed 4th team, with strong performances from everyone. Actual time for me was 27:35 for 23rd. place over all. Winning time was 25:02. Jeronimo TC was founded by several FBI agents and provided facilities funding to athletes in training both adult and youth. They were also responsible for my future race on the international scene held in Kingston , Jamaica in 1965 summer months. ( Further details later).
UF Track History- 1965-1966
Track season @ MDJC began in January 1965 with workouts starting with Winter Semester around third week in January. My suspension was lifted and I eligible for track with MDJC. First meet was against Miami against frosh and sophomores, and we got hammered in points. But, my career was off to a good start winning the 880yd. and anchoring the winning mile relay. We weren’t very strong and had no depth to bring in big points, therefore losing most of our meets. But we improved each meet and got better and better in times . The guys looked up to me for leadership ,so they made me captain. I encouraged them at practice and meets, no matter how they performed. The Falcons had won 3 consecutive State Championships, and this was MDJC’s “off year”, so the pressure was on all of us to perform better each week! I was winning all my individual events and mile relay (mile, 880, mile relay and sometimes 2-mile), but it was enough to win state. Every day I would pick a different team mate(except sprinters) and do a work out with them. Up to my limit of course. In order to get them on the right “track of thinking” to become better each week. My 880yd was dropping , but wasn’t satisfied, even though I was the fastest in the state. My goal was to win Nationals in May. Our relay times in the mile and distance medley were very completive being first in state. We qualified to run in the FLORIDA RELAYS 1965, and our application was accepted. This was one of my goals to run in front of some of the best universities at one of the best relay carnivals in the nation.
Our relay teams were breaking State Jr. College records in the mile relay, distance medley relay, and the 2-mile relay. This put us in the front seat of the Jr. College and University freshman division and an invitation to the Twenty-Second Annual Florida Relays at UF on March 27, 19 65. By the way, I still have the original program + results. Also, this was Jimmy Carnes first year as head coach of UF Track Team Also, I got to see some of my “ol buddies” from XC 1964 again ( Jim Brown, Dieter, Scott Hagar, Rick Haley, Gary Mahla, Ed Mahoney) who were sophomores and juniors now. Frank Saier was competing in the high jump representing Furman University. Since Coach Carnes was Furman’s previous coach last year, he was in hot pursuit to get Frank transferred to UF. Dan Flynn was also running for Furman in the middle distance for the relays. Jimmy was also interested in Flynn transferring to UF to fill the middle distance team arsenal and his dream team 2-mile relay. Jimmy had such great dreams and vision that he starting to build his foundation for great teams in the future. By going after established athletes he knew that instant success was possible with the right personnel in place, while building from good high school recruits to keep up future success. Other successful track and field recruits during this period were: Frank Lagotic from Army –middle and long distance; John Morton from Sanford. Ca. –shot put and discus, and myself. By the way, John was a big guy and was brought to UF on an all-around scholarship at the time, but later transferred to only track & field. Track scholarships were at a premium and Jimmy worked something out with Ray Graves –AD , Head Football. I’m not certain about the details, but maybe some one else can give more detail. Coach
UF History-1964-1965 continues
Jimmy Carnes was incredible in visualizing greatness and how to establish a blueprint for success. He did it in Atlanta, Ga. @ North Druid Hills HS, @ Furman University and now at UF. Hold on to your seats, because there are more great stories about Jimmy in later years.
Our relay teams won the distance medley relay division and were only one tenth of a second of tying the Florida Relay Record. I ran a 4:18.3 mile split and a 50.1 quarter in the mile relay for 4th place finish. If I had gone to bed and hour earlier the night before we might have broken the record. Ha!Ha!
At the Florida JC State Track & Field Championships held at Miami Dade JC that year the team placed 3rd. in back of Manatee, and Pensacola. My time of 1:54.7 was a new state record and won the mile in 4:19.6. We won the mile relay to set another state record, in which I anchored with a split of 49.6.
After the state meet I was invited to run in the Florida Invitational on May 12, 1965, just a couple of weeks before the National Jr. College Meet in Garden City, Ks.. UF was the host this year, which was another opportunity to compete with the university talent. This would be a good tune-up meet for the nationals. “Pappy” got me in with the consent of Coach Carnes and the other coaches , from Georgia, FSU, Auburn, UF,Miss., Tenn. Also, this meet was a chance to perform my best in front of Coach Carnes. Besides, it was always good to see my “ol buddies again at UF.
Note that Frank Lagotic was at this meet running under the newly formed “Florida Track Club”. Jimmy was so smart, he formed a track club so that runners that he was trans ferrying could continue to run and train under a legitimate team, while waiting for eligibility. Also, if someone was red-shirt then he could run under the FTC. Therefore, they could run in meets as club and not represent the 880yd run , I was in some real fast company and record was 1:52.3. Jim Brown, a senior at UF, was the number one 880yd contender in the SEC and Dieter Gebhardt was far behind. So, I had my hands full! The first lap wasn’t too bad and I was right up front with a 54.8. We were all still packed in at the 660 yds., with Brown and Gebhardt in front. All of a sudden we were @ the 770 yds. And I realized I was boxed in with no way to break thru, without fouling. Felt great with a lot of energy still left coming out of the turn. Found a slight opening and busted out, to catch Brown who was 20 yds. in front. Passed 4 competitors(including Dieter) and put my sights on Jim down the home stretch and lost to him by one foot.(newspaper photo).Time: Jim 1;53.8 and I was 1:54.(Nice finish photo in Gainesville Sun)
I qualified to run in the National JC Championships in Garden City , Ks. May 21-22. Entered the 880yd and the mile with my mile time was better than any of the entrants and the half was second. Pappy thought I could win the half if I dropped out of the mile prelims and finals to conserve all my energy on one event. Fast track made of cinder and crushed brick. Not training or competing on this surface, I didn’t realize how exhausting it was to run on this stuff.
UF-1964-1965 History conclusion
Anyway, didn’t run the mile, even though I had the fastest entry time, but had the fastest prelim 880
times with ease. The mile prelims were all low, and I was getting a sick feeling for the next day’s finals.
All year I was strong enough to run 2-4 events every meet, which actually kept me in high performance.
performance. Well, the mile was won in a slower time and I placed third at the line in the 880
yd. (boxed in again, still hadn’t learned my lesson). Made my move in the last 100 yds. Too late!
Time to get ready for summer meets. Transition into XC during August, for 1965 Cross Country
Season. (Next writing will cover 1965 XC-1966 track season at the UF.)
Copyright Donne Hale Jr. All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
By Ron Coleman
In the summer of 1968, Ron Coleman became the first black student-athlete to be awarded an athletic scholarship at the University of Florida. A little known part of that story is another student-athlete from West Palm Beach named Johnnie Brown. Johnnie was not only enrolled at UF and staying in the same dormitory as Ron, they were roommates during their first two years at UF. Although Johnnie was not on scholarship, as a cross-country runner, he was the first black student-athlete to ever compete for UF, two months before Ron competed on the track.
43 years ago, American history will tell you that our nation was experiencing a tumultuous tidal wave of social change that swept across all of America. It was a period in America that is commonly referred to as the Civil Rights movement. While it was a movement that influenced politics and socio-economics on a large scale, the individual stories were many and varied. Ron Coleman’s story parallels the stories of many others, not only at UF, but on campuses large and small throughout the expanse of this great nation. It begins with a boy or girl longing to attend college after graduating from high school in June of 1968, but not having the wherewithal to do so. It didn’t matter very much to that boy or girl whether they were the first, second, third, or 1000th black student-athlete to receive a scholarship. What did matter however, in every one of these stories, was that he or she would be going to college. In Ron’s case, along came Coach Jimmy Carnes and Athletic Director Ray Graves to make that college dream come true.
The sad part of the story is that it obviously also mattered very much to those who spewed hatred and bigotry. One of Ron’s letters of congratulations would say: “Dear Nigger, Prepare to die. You will never make it to Gainesville.” That was one of the many hate-filled diatribes suffered by a young man who simply wanted to go to college. Needless to say, those days were very challenging.
Coach Jimmy Carnes proved to be true to his word. In a very unique way, he too was a pioneer in the civil rights movement. He dared to defy the critics and naysayers, including the Florida legislature, by signing a black athlete to compete for the Gators. Courageous, defiant, carefree, and nurturing…academics always before athletics – that was always his mantra. Although there were still those among the various athletic squads who would rather not see Blacks lined up beside them on the same field of play, there were many unlikely allies among the white student-athletes who held no prejudice and who also helped to smooth the way for future athletes to come. Jack Youngblood stands out among them in Ron’s memory as one of those allies, because it seems he saved Ron from a terrible predicament, simply by being himself. As a scholarship athlete Ron would eat at the athletic training table and would often be left to eat all alone. Jack single-handedly changed that by simply inviting him over to his table or by sitting with him.
In 1969, Willie Jackson and Leonard George were the first Black student-athletes to set foot on the gridiron. They too were courageous, because not only were they potentially human tackling dummies, they invaded the last vestige of that “good old boy” spirit…Gator Football. Nat Moore came along shortly afterwards, and was the first true black gridiron superstar.
Pioneering is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re staring down the barrel of a rifle in a small restaurant outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As relived by Ron Coleman, “The man told me ‘we don’t serve nigras in this here restrant,’ and I said to him while walking backwards and praying at the same time, ‘that’s okay, I don’t like nigras that much anyway.’ My teammates and I quickly left, fearing for our lives, well, mine for sure.”
Of course it was not all bad. As a matter of fact, the positives far outnumbered the negatives. But in the long run, all of those kinds of experiences, positive and negative, served to help in laying the framework for what this campus has come to represent: a proud Association of Black Alumni and a conglomerate of humanity representing unprecedented diversity and accomplishments in the academic and athletic arenas.
Copyright Ron Coleman All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
“You've got a hitch in your get done,” Coach Carnes had told him.
The normal expression is “hitch in your get-along”, but his hitch was about finishing or getting done. He was a runner; he could get-along. But finishing each race he hits a wall. This has been the pattern for five years of running.
Right now, he's one of eight runners staggered from left to right, one per lane, across the track, each about three yards in front of the one in the lane to his left. He shifts his gaze and scans the trip he'll take on the oval track circumventing the grass infield to return to where he is.
They always run counterclockwise, against the clock. Perhaps this would be fun, exhilarating, absent the pain, if it were not for the clock, the harsh master. The runners compete against each other, but the clock is the ultimate competitor.
He starts each race with excitement and hope. He fools himself, of course, with hope that this race might be different. He has either not lived long enough or is not smart enough to know, to despair that events are predictable, that life shows up, that gravity pulls us to earth with mathematical precision, and that a hitch may relate more to karma than training.
“Runners to your mark.”
He steps into the starting blocks, both hands down, fingers splayed holding up his torso as he
puts first his right foot all the way back, and, second, the left foot midway back. Then he tries to settle, right knee down on the hard asphalt surface, butt dropping down. He looks forward, trying to relax.
On an April Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Florida in 1965, he's warmed up for the race, which is midway through the meet. The sun is bright at 3 PM. There is no breeze. The asphalt track radiates heat.
“Runners, get set!”
He raises his right knee and butt into the crouched, cocked posture, looking down and leaning forward, a spring taut and expectant. He's 5 foot 10 inches tall, a 165 pound mesomorph, not so delicate as a miler. His body's motor is both silent and revving.
“Bam!” the gun fires.
He lunges, pumping his arms and accelerating his legs as his body rises from the crouch into the upright running posture within three to four strides. Within 30 yards he is going full blast down the half straightaway, pounding the track near the inside mark of his lane. He sees the two runners in front and to his right in lanes seven and eight also speeding down the track, neither gaining nor losing their staggers.
Fall of 1974 was a time of hope and optimism on the University of Florida’s campus. The U.S. was out of Vietnam and the Watergate scandal had just consumed the Nixon administration. For the students, it was a time to look forward to new classes, see old friends and new ones.
It was also a time to be optimistic about the University’s Track & Field team. School record holder in the 440, Beaufort Brown was returning to school as team Captain. Brown and strong core of athletes gave the Gators plenty of reason to be optimistic. The team boasted of six runners under 4:09 in the mile, deep depth at the 800 and 400-meter sprinters capable of running 3:05 or faster in the 4X400.
Returning athletes like Noel Gray, Wimpy Alexander, Stephen Gomez, Gene Mock, Kevin Holzwart and Junior College transfer Robert Rambo added to the optimism.
The Gators were also deep in the field events. Freshman long and triple jumper Michael Sharpe was already an accomplished athlete from Bermuda. Steve Ott was a 7-foot high jumper and pole-vaulter Will Freeman was already an SEC Champion. Ricky McIntosh was a sure bet in the throws.
Head Coach Jimmy Carnes knew he was close to building a team that could capture the elusive Southeastern Conference title—a title UF had never won in track & field. A sign of his optimism was posted over the entrance to the track: Enthusiasm Creates Energy!
A number of other athletes would have a huge influence on the track team. Number one world ranked miler Marty Liquori relocated to Gainesville to train and explore business ventures with Coach Carnes. All round distance runner Barry Brown was a common sight on Gainesville’s streets. Great 800-meter runners Juris Luzins and Byron Dyce also relocated to Gainesville. And there were other great runners like Steve Foster and Reggie Clark. All came to compete for the Florida Track Club also coached by Carnes.
These great runners had a tremendous positive influence on the UF team. Seeing Shorter and Brown do 20X400 with a quick one-lap jog in between each 400 was impressive enough, but to run them all under 60 seconds was jaw dropping. Liquori, Luzens and Dyce also put in some incredible workouts that would have us stop what we were doing and watch in awe. A magazine article called them “a gathering of eagles.” They could fly all right.
The Florida Track Club elite runners trained with the UF team. They gave advice and showed support. They were inspirational to be around. There couldn’t be any better role models for the Gators. We wanted to be winners, too.
Florida’s men’s track and field team was a traveling United Nations. The team had members from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, and the Bahamas and, of course, from all over the United States. In many ways, we were as different as different could be in terms of language and where we came from, but we could run, hurdle, jump and throw like nobody’s business
Florida’s quest for the elusive SEC title came during the indoor season in 1975. Florida had always fielded strong teams but this year it was different. The Gators had depth in the 400, 600 and 800, which meant the relays would be strong as well. In fact, the Gators were strong in just about every event.
The 1975 SEC Championship was held in Baton Rouge at LSU. Tennessee was the defending champion and the defending NCAA Outdoor Champions. On paper Florida and Tennessee were the favorites. Earlier in the season, Florida trounced Tennessee in an indoor dual meet, but the Gators were not overconfident going into the championships. Coach Carnes felt if there was ever the year, 1975 was it, but everyone had to come through with a strong performance.
The first night of the meet, Vince Cartier was finally healthy. His Gator career was interrupted by one nagging injury after another. Going into the meet, Vince had several months of training behind him as he stepped up from the mile to race in the two mile run. Tennessee had a lot of depth in the distances, but there was no denying Vince. He recorded a personal best of 8:48.8 and finished third ahead of Tennessee star Pat Davey. That brought us valuable points.
Meanwhile, a three way battle was going on in the long jump. Tennessee had two terrific jumpers. Through the rounds the two Voles led the competition. On his last jump, Gator freshman Michael Sharp hit the board perfectly and sailed out to a one inch win. That sparked a fire under the Gators. Many of us were saying, “We can take this thing!”
Many of us were also saying we wanted this for Beaufort Brown, our captain and leader and Coach Carnes.
If we thought the long jump was exciting, the last event on Friday was the two-mile relay. The Gators expected a tough battle with the Vols. Frank Betts, Steve Gomez and Wimpy Alexander ran solid legs to give Horace Tuitt a slight lead. Horace and Tennessee’s Thom Garrison were in an exciting and tight battle for four laps around the 200-meter track. Coming off the last turn for home Garrison somehow dropped the baton and failed to finish. Horace cruised to an easy win for the Gators. What a way to end the night with the Gators atop the leader board.
Going into the final day, we believed! Things got off to a strong start with Beaufort Brown and Noel Gray both scoring in the 440 dash. Horace Tuitt smashed the 880 field with a convincing win. Then, pole vaulter Will Freeman, who got off to a shaky start, rallied in the end win another SEC title by jumping 16 feet 9 inches. For three seasons, Will Freeman owned the SEC pole vault title indoors and out.
The 600 was highly anticipated race between Gator great Wimpy Alexander and Mississippi State’s fantastic T.D. Orungbemi. The race was a barn burner. Wimpy and T.D. dueled with each other the entire race with T.D. just nipping Wimpy at the wire.
By this point, we were confident that the stars had aligned and that elusive championship might finally find a home in Gainesville. Next up, the mile and the Gators had two strong contenders in Vince Cartier and Frank Betts. Alabama’s Steve Bolt won, but Vince and Frank both ran 4:05.1. The officials ruled Vince finished second and Frank third. More points!
Gator hurdler Hesley Bostic finished third in the 60-yard hurdles, but ahead of everyone from Tennessee. Then, Michael Sharpe, once again, steps up and wins the triple jump and scores in the 60 year dash. Game over.
The last event, the mile relay showcased the Gator dominance. Horace Tuitt, Noel Gray, Wimpy Alexander and Beaufort Brown dusted their competitors and if memory serves, set a new SEC indoor record.
There are pictures on this website that depict the joy of winning a first ever SEC Track & Field Championship thanks to Beaufort Brown and his wife, Barbara. The sheer joy was something no Gator who was there that day will ever forget.
Maybe the most joyous face was that of Coach Jimmy Carnes. Coach was well aware, but it took the team a few moments to realize that in winning the school’s first SEC Track & Field Championship, we had doubled the score of runner-up LSU. Double the points! The Gators won, but we WON BIG!
For weeks afterward, we could see a bounce in Coach Carnes’ step and those of us that were a part of this UF first, we had a bit of swagger to our walk. Then the championship rings came in which made it even more real. Our hope was that from that point on in 1975, the Gators would be one of the premier programs in the country. The cool thing was as champions we had different accents and were from different parts of the world. We were different, but we came together as a team.
Copyright Thomas Doerr All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
Follow the beginnings of the Florida Track Club and you’ll see it was mainly made up of middle distance and distance runners. 1972 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Frank Shorter, Olympians Jack Bachelor, Marty Liquori, Byron Dyce, Dave Hill, Steve Foster, Jeff Galloway and others like Barry Brown, Juris Luzens and Ken Misner made up the core of the club.
Training runs for this group were scorchers. In those days, 1968 to 1976, it was not unusual to see a pack of extremely fit runners burning up the streets at 5 minutes a mile pace. People would scratch their heads wondering, “Who are these nut cases?”
The fall of 1975 brought a new core of runners to Gainesville and there was good reason for it. Gator Head Coach Jimmy Carnes brought Brooks Johnson in from Washington, D.C., to coach the sprinters, hurdlers and relays. Coach Johnson brought world-class credentials to the program. Many of us knew of him from the coaching he’d done with the late Martin McGrady, the original “Chairman of the Boards.”
A little background may be needed. During the late ‘60’s, the coolest, fastest 400 meter dude was 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist and World 400 meter record holder Lee Evans. Evans was a fierce competitor who seemed to claw, tear and will his way to victory. Go to YouTube and watch the 400 finals at the ’68 Mexico City Olympics. Watch Evens homestretch finish for gold. You’ll see what I mean.
However, when it came to indoor track, Evans met his match in McGrady. Back then, most indoor meets were run on banked board tracks only 160 yards around--11 laps to the mile. No one could run those small board tracks faster than Martin McGrady coached by Brooks Johnson.
At the 1970 AAU Indoor Championships, McGrady and Evans battled for 600-yards around the small track in what’s regarded as one of the greatest indoor races of the 20th Century. McGrady won in shattering the World Record in 1:07.6. At the finish, Johnson pushed so hard his stopwatch broke--now permanently stopped at 1:07.6.
McGrady’s record stood for 22 years. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 60. The Martin McGrady story was just one of dozens stories about the athletes Brooks Johnson coached.
At the time of his arrival, a lot of us knew his background as a coach, but didn’t know Brooks had a whole other life. Brooks was highly educated with an undergraduate degree from Tufts and a law degree from the University of Chicago. He also spent several decades working in the State Department.
To say Brooks Johnson set a strong tone to the training program for sprinters and hurdlers doesn’t do it justice. He was a force like no other than we’d seen.
Now, many people will also tell you that Brooks Johnson is an acquired taste. If you are the faint of heart or a sheltered individual, his words could shock you. He used language like a surgeon uses a scalpel--words so strong and foul a sailor would cringe. He prowled the track with an electronic megaphone so no matter where you were on the track, you could not escape his tirades.
Brooks also used some strange analogies that would leave us scratching our heads. One time he compared an aspect of a hurdling technique to masturbation.
“Really Coach? Really? Did you hear what I heard? Did he really say masturbation and hurdling in the same sentence? Really?”
Let’s just say that Brooks kept it interesting.
With Brooks on campus talented sprinters and hurdlers migrated to Gainesville as students or aspiring Olympians. The 1976 Montreal Olympic Games were less than a year away. Some outstanding athletes followed Brooks such as 800-meter stars Robyn Campbell and Nancy Shafer. Jamaica’s 200-meter Olympian Rose Allwood moved to Gainesville to train under Brooks.
Brooks presence attracted other accomplished sprinters like 400-meter specialist Stan Vinson from Eastern Michigan University. James Redd, another 400-meter runner came in from San Diego.
But one of the more interesting sprinters to come to Gainesville was Rey Robinson. The former Florida A&M star tied the world record for the 100 meters in 1972 by running 9.95. Rey was one of America’s great hopes for Gold in the 1972 Munich Olympics. An outdated Olympic schedule caused Ray and fellow Olympian Eddie Hart to miss their quarterfinal, so they were both disqualified.
Here’s how Rey found out: He stopped by the ABC Sports broadcast studio on his way to the stadium. He saw a TV monitor with a shot of empty starting blocks and his name on the lower third of the screen. Imagine what that felt like. Years later he would tell a reporter:
”It was like being involved in a car accident that’s your fault and you have no insurance and everyone on the freeway has stopped to look at you.”
The disqualification was controversial—some blaming Coach Stan Wright while others blamed the two athletes.
During the fall of 1975, Coach Johnson’s presence had a huge influence on Gator sprinters like Michael Sharpe, Stanley Harris, Wimpy Alexander, Willie Wilder and freshman Palmer Simmons. Palmer was a real catch for Coach Carnes and Johnson. Palmer ran 46.7 for the 440 as a high school senior in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Both coaches hoped he would fill the huge shoes of Beaufort Brown who graduated in the spring of 1975.
Arguably the greatest catalyst to Gator sprinting came in December of 1975. The great Steve Williams relocated to Gainesville to train under Brooks. At that time, Steve was the fastest man on the planet. His business cards read, “The world’s fastest human.”
Steve was a star. Tall, good-looking and extremely confident, he talked fast with a New York accent. Steve Williams was likeable and approachable. When he took to the track, he was hard to ignore. Steve had a long beautiful stride with a crazy-fast turn over. His ability was phenomenal and his presence made everyone faster. If you worked out with Steve, you couldn’t help but get faster because he literally dragged people to faster times.
Another big difference in training from 1975 to 1976 was work out intensity. Brooks did not believe in “junk miles.” To win championships, he believed you needed to train at championship speed, so speed goals were broken down into increments. If your goal were 46 seconds for 400 meters, he’d break it down to first 100 meters in 11.2, 200 meters in 22.5, 300 meters in 34.0 and the final 100 in 12.0 or some variation of it. Then, you’d practice at that pace.
Brooks’ other focus in training was learning to sprint when you were tired. For example: A split 600 was running a 400 in 48 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds and then finish the 600 with the best 200 you could muster. It made us tough.
Armed with that electronic megaphone, Brooks would yell, “hit your hands, hit your hands!” He told us that if you could keep rapidly moving your arms, your legs would have to keep up.
Brooks also liked using technology. He was the first at UF to use videotaping and slow motion playback to analyze technique. That’s routine today, but in 1976, that was way before its time.
Probably no one benefited from Steve’s presence more than Stanley Harris. The year before his best time in the 200 was 21.1. In the spring of 1976, Stan would run 20.1.
One work out in particular stood out. Brooks had us run 6 X 200 under 22 seconds with a three minute rest in between. It was an experience to sprint behind Steve. His back-kick came up to the level of my chin and I am 6 feet tall! During that workout only Stanley could stay anywhere close to Steve. Steve ran all six under 21 seconds. With the exception of Harris, the rest of us were lucky to run three under 22.
Not every one benefited from the new influences on the Gator track. Rey Robinson was never able to get back to the World Record level of speed he displayed in 1972. You could see Rey had talent, but something was missing in his demeanor. Steve Williams had fire and energy in his eyes. Rey’s eyes looked kind of lost.
Rey left Gainesville after a short time in the spring of 1976. Most of us didn’t know what caused him to leave, but suddenly he was gone. James Redd also left Gainesville after a short time. Poof!
Coach Johnson and training partners like Steve Williams did have a huge impact on the Gators team. Stanley Harris and Michael Sharpe’s times improved dramatically. Steve and Stanley had some terrific 100 meter and 200 meter races.
Two races really stood out--the 100 meters at the Florida Relays and Martin Luther King Games. Steve destroyed two terrific 100-meter fields—one that included sprint great Harvey Glance and Houston McTear. Steve would go on to run under ten seconds four times in a season—an historic first.
Another great moment was at Penn Relays when Gators broke the World Record for the sprint medley relay by running 3:13.9. At the time, it was the fastest time in history, but was never recognized as a World Record because it wasn’t a team made up of four athletes from the same country.
Williams was a tremendous positive influence to the Gator program. Unfortunately, he would not realize his Olympic dream in 1976. An injury would keep him off the team. The next year, Williams would win the World Cup.
That 1976 track & field season, the Gators would win its second consecutive Indoor SEC Championship and finish second in the Outdoor SEC Championships. This was at the time, the Gators’ finest season in its history.
All thanks, in part, to Coaches Carnes and Johnson and the influence of the fastest man alive, Steve Williams.
The Pep Talk 1976
By Tom Doerr
UF Track & Field 1973-1976
In an usual move, Coach Carnes called for a team meeting the morning of the final day. The team gathered in a small room. It memory serves; we met in Coach Carnes hotel room.
It was cramped.
It also wasn’t lost on any of us that we could make history that day.
Coach Carnes spoke first. He reminded us of the work it took to get there. He told us we had the talent of no other team in UF history and wouldn’t it be great to be the first Gators to be Outdoor SEC Champions? Coach Benson spoke about running your race. Don’t get too excited early—run smart.
A few others spoke. It is safe to say we ere already stoked and ready to go.
Then Coach Carnes asked if anyone else wanted to say anything.
For a moment, no one said a thing. Then high jump coach Ron Jordan says, “Coach, I have something to say.”
For those of you that do not know Ron Jordan: He was an extraordinary high jumper and eventual Olympian that came to Florida from Pensacola. He was so good, but he looked like a—well—a hippie. He was tall, whip thin with long curly hair. He was more of a mental jumper than a physical one. He would sit at the outer edge of the high jump apron and visualize and meditate a jump. He would imagine jumping over 7 feet and then he would.
A lot of athletes couldn’t relate because Ron wasn’t about walking around beating his chest and shouting how great he was.
Ron was a cosmic thinker.
So when he got up to speak to us—clearly—we were interested about what this unusual, but accomplished man had to say.
He did not disappoint.
He said, “ Men, when you go out there today and you are about to run, sprint, hurdle, jump or throw, take a moment.” Ron paused and slowly looked around the room. “Breath deep. Relax.” He paused and looked around the room again. “Then just…just…just let the energy of the universe soak into your soul and then, just fly, fly, fly!!!!”
It took about 5 seconds as we tried to process what advice Ron had just given us. Then we all howled with laughter. Opinions are mixed, but a few of us appreciated Ron for breaking the tension facing us on that final day of the Championships. We all have apart to play—even Ron, our cosmic thinker.
Copyright Thomas Doerr All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
By Dr. Liston Bochette III
The legend of Jimmy Carnes preceded him where ever he went and with whomever he met. You can imagine the shock I felt when as a 17 year old high school hurdler I picked up the phone one night to hear a voice say. “Well hello there … My name is Jimmy Carnes and I want to invite you to come run track at the University of Florida”.
Why did I get that call? You see I was not even the best athlete on my team. We had the primer distance runner in the America who had already won nine (9) State titles and achieved national status. Clif Betts was the brother of Gator track star Frank Betts and was headed to stardom himself. Coach Carnes had already offered him a “full ride”. Besides him we also had the State Champions in the Pole Vault and Discus events as well as a host of the best sprinters south of Hanes City. As matter of fact, I might have been the number two hurdler on our team. With such average talent I was forced to do all the events I could. At any given meet I would run the high hurdles, intermediate hurdles, high jump, pole vault, and run the relays. As I listened to Coach Carnes encourage me to keep up the good work I could not help wonder what he saw in me.
Before we got off the phone that night he did say that he thought that I could be good at the Decathlon. Honestly, I had never heard of the Decathlon and probably thought he was talking about making me the team manager. Coach Carnes said that if I would try this strange event he would get me in school in Gainesville. That sounded like the deal for me.
My senior year I barely missed the cut to qualify as a high hurdler at the USA Junior Championship meet being held that summer in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, an advertisement in Track and Field news stated; “Decathlon – All entries accepted”. Wow… I was headed to Knoxville and to show Coach Carnes that I could be what he wanted me to be…. I just had to find out what the Decathlon was! There was no internet back then, the school library was closed, and our small town did not have a book store. My math teacher told me that ‘deca’ meant ten (10) so I guessed that it was a combination of running, jumping, and throwing. My high school coach lended me a shot putt and a discus to practice with even though I had technically graduated and was out of school. I ran every day on the golf course since the high school track was closed for the vacation months. I had no idea how far the distances were so I just sprinted between the greens until I was dizzy and walked back to repeat the effort. I figured Coach Carnes would approve of my hard work. I was determined to my best for him since he was the only college coach that called me!
I cut grass in the mornings around my neighborhood and sold mangoes from a wheel barrow in the afternoons so that I could earn enough money to go compete in the Decathlon in Knoxville. Tennessee. I had no clue how to get to the meet but since none of my friends had cars which could make it that far and hitch hiking was too unreliable I decide to fly. I knew if I asked my parents they would probably say no and if I called Coach Carnes he might not remember who I was. Regardless, on the exact day the entry form I mailed in from Track and Field News stated I gathered up my suitcase and headed to the airport on my bicycle. I had never flown on a plane and of course we had to change flights in Atlanta even back then. Thank goodness I sat beside a javelin thrower from Louisiana who was headed to Knoxville on the last leg of my journey. Greg Barrow was the top thrower in the country and I was stunned when he told me that the javelin was one of the events in the Decathlon. There was no javelin event in Florida High School track so I had to learn quickly. Not only did Greg promise me a 24 hour education on the art of spear throwing he also let me stay in his hotel room as I had no reservations.
The Decathlon started the very next day. I showed up bright and early wearing my high school uniform only to see that most of the other guys were college freshman under 20 years old. One fellow from Auburn (John Cecil) told me that Coach Carnes was at the meet. This fired my passion as I progressed from event to event. I wanted to show him that I was worthy of his respect. My only pair of shoes took a beating but served me well. After the first day I was tired but somehow managed to do ‘personal bests’ in 4 of the first 5 events. However, I still had not met Coach Carnes in living flesh.
The second day started with my torched lungs and sore legs almost unable to carry me across the street from the hotel to the new Tartan track. It did not start well when I ran a ‘personal worse’ in the hurdles. That ended my dream of running the high hurdles for the University of Florida. A second new friend saved the day for me when we got to the pole vault. Edgardo Rivera the Olympian from Puerto Rico was studying at Tennessee, and although he was too old to compete as a Junior he came out to the meet to watch. Of course I did not own a pole vaulting pole so he lended me one of his from the locker room. Had he known I was trying to become a Gator and not a Volunteer he may have charged me a rental fee. I jumped the best of my life that day and even had illusions that I would become a vaulter in case this Decathlon thing failed. By the end of the meet I had done fairly well and became a High School All American finishing only behind Vince Riley (The High School World record holder).
I flew home with a medal in my pocket. My parents were not sure where it came from. Suddenly the scholarship offers started pouring in and for a few weeks I thought that I might forego Coach Carnes offer to come to Gainesville in exchange for Los Angles, Bloomington, Eugene, or another distant land. It wasn’t until my father asked me; “who do you think is the best coach in the country?” At that exact moment I made up my mind where to go to college. I called Coach Carnes to inform him that I wanted to wear blue and orange. To my astonishment he informed me that I had waited so late to get back to him that he had given all the scholarship money out except for $50 dollars for books. He was very sincere in saying that if I would accept it he would work to get me more in the future. I immediately signed the paper he sent me but could not start school until January. I was the last athlete Coach Carnes signed.
In Gainesville I lived with my Grandparents since I was not actually in school and not eligible for a dorm room; nor could I have afforded it. Still I reported to the track every day that fall to train under the great Jimmy Carnes. That was a lesson in life. As so many of us know Coach Carnes ran his team like a business. Everything was on time, on schedule, and calculated down to the smallest detail. Each assistant coach new his assignments and the team was proud to be led by such a caring head coach.
I had a very difficult time trying to explain to the other athletes that I was not in school yet but that Coach Carnes was working on it. I dared not admit that I was brought in for $50 dollars. One day Coach Carnes called me off to the side to tell me that he would be leaving his position to pursue private business ventures. I was not the first to learn this but I never doubted his wisdom. He promised me that he would get me in school even if he had to walk my papers over to the registrar office and plead my case himself. He must have done just that because my grades were certainly short of the acceptance level. Coach Carnes, in his typical ‘focus on wining way’, did advise me that if I waited to start school until I was 26 years old I could probably become the national champion. There was no doubt that he wanted the best for me then and always did. Coach Carnes wanted all his athletes to be winners; both on and off the track.
As the years passed I never let my contact with him faulter. He continued to encourage me and his door was always open to for me. I thought that I was special but in reality every single one of his athletes was important to him. I was just an average kid who bought into his dream for the last $50 dollars he gave out as a scholarship. I can say without hesitation that it was the best deal I every made in my life. Friendship with Coach Carnes was priceless and eternal!
Copyright Dr. Liston Bochette III All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
The UF Women’s program started in the fall of 1973, one year after the passage of Title IX.
Katie Paulos, a graduate student at UF, was UF’s first Women’s Track coach.
In 1973 there were only two (tuition-only) scholarships available for the women's team. Mary McGroarty (who became my roommate my Junior year) was one of the recipients (I don't know who the other scholarship athlete was that first year). She ran the 800 at UF
In 1974, Heidi Hertz from King High School in Temple Terrace, FL was awarded a track scholarship. The other one went to a miler from Tennessee (I only remember her first name - Kay)
There were no separate facilities for the women. We shared a small weight room next to Florida field with the men’s team. There were not any coaches or trainers in the weight room to help/supervise us … we were on our own. We had to come dressed for practice and we did not shower until we returned to our respective dorms. Most of us had classes that started at 8 am so that we could be finished with school by 1:00. Practice started at 2:30. No one had to hold our feet to the fire about this ... we all were dedicated students as well as athletes.
We traveled to places like Knoxville for the Dogwood Relays, to Lexington, KY for the Becky Boone Relays (the only all-women track meet at the time), Penn Relays, indoor meets at Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, Marin Luther King Games in Atlanta, etc. Most often, we traveled with the men.
The 1974 team only had 11 women. Many of us doubled and tripled up on events. There was one senior on the team, two sophomores and the rest, freshman.
In 1975, nine UF women qualified for Nationals and we traveled to Oregon State University to compete in the seventh annual AIAW Women’s Track and Field Championships. (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women had responsibility of women’s athletics early on – it would not be until 1982 before the NCAA took over responsibility for women’s collegiate sports). Every one of us placed in our respective events and the UF women finished fourth in the nation.
In 1976 the nationals were held at Kansas State University. That year we placed fourth again with everyone making it to the finals in their events … and Heidi Hertz won the Heptathlon … UF had its first women’s national track champion.
In the fall of 1976, Lacey O’Neal took over the coaching duties for the Women’s track team. The program still had a small budget so we only had two tuition-only scholarships available
I believe in 1978 was when Deanne Carlson took over the coaching responsibilities
Copyright C. Diane Poole All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted
This documentation refers to THIS ERA which little is known about THIS ERA as it related to the University of Florida Track program. Most of the information gathered about this period is through verbal documentation of the track athletes who were apart of this period at the University of Florida. THIS ERA refers also to the weakness of this program and the implications it had on the track athletes.
Track and field was the major part of these scholarly athletes who travels from around the country to take part in this program. Many of these athlete were honing themselves to be the top of their events and sort this program to assist in their development. Un-benounced to many this was the era where the University of Florida Track program crashed after a very celebrated early 1970’s era. The fallout of this program left many of the track athlete defending for themselves. Some of the athletes focused on there studies with the option to complete their college degrees, however many tried to rely on there natural talents in their events in the hopes to be propelled into a national or Olympic status. Many of the athlete quit and divorced themselves from the sport.
With the structural weakness of the program a cycle of depression overtook the program for many. What turned out to be a major introduction to the collegiate sports arena became a concourse for survival. For some the love of the sport had became the demand of the sport. This was an era when these Track athletes had to make rational decisions on irrational situations. Many of the athletes personal testimonies will leave one speechless about the events which occurred during THIS ERA.
As many of these scholarly athletes became discouraged, few channeled there energies toward completely their academic term, before their athletic terms were over. During this era of University of Florida Track program there was a major/high quitting, separation and transferring rate. This is probably the highest rate of scholarly athletes consecutively quitting in the entire University of Florida Track History. During this time The University of Florida Track program produce only a runner-up Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship in 1981. As many athletes became discouraged with the program, the program began to decline. On an average many of the athletes remained a total of up to 2 years of their 4 year scholarships.
Current theories equate the caused were due to a poor coaching/consulting staff. Some theories argue that due to a poor SEC and NCAA Champion producing rate of track athlete, the program could not keep the track athletes it recruited. With a poor performance record the program became wrecked with depression. Many of these scholarly athletes have carried on for 30 years the psychological scars which we involuntary placed onto them. Many of these athletes have tried to block this era of their lives out. Many find these years very difficult to talk about. These scars are deep and depending on the nature of the insult, will never be resolved. The treating of an athletes like cattle was an insult.
This era which added approximately 9 SEC Indoor Champions and 21 SEC Outdoor Champions to the University of Florida Track program is one the lowest ratio in the college’s sports history.
July 21, 2011. Summer
THIS ERA at the University of Florida Track was a transitional period for the program. Prior to THIS ERA, the program has gained national attention. It had placed in the upper 10% of the NCAA Championships. It produced a first in The University of Florida Track history with the 1975 Mile Relay. The programs popularity was overwhelming. It was the University of Florida Track’s RENAISSANCE PERIOD.
This can be described as a period where the Track program was flowering with diversity. There was a wide range of cultural and intellectual uniformity. There was a resurgence of learning the sport. This Renaissance revolution was an upheaval for developing high caliber national athletes. It changed the social make-up of the team. This era of 8 years was more athletically advanced than any other era prior to its time. This era has produced more multifarious Southeastern (SEC) champions post Dark Ages and prior to 1987. It appears that its natural philosophy was “Team Winning and Athletes well-being”. This era had developed a technique of comradeship that rendered to the magic of the sport. To listen to verbal testimonies of University of Florida Track athletes of The Renaissance Period, a person understands that there was a strong love for the coaching/consulting staff and a dedication for the art of winning. This was an era when the metric system was slowing making its way into the United States of America Track & Field arena. This era added approximately 39 SEC Indoor Champions and 29 SEC Outdoor Champions to the University of Florida Track program. A beginning of an era which shall not be duplicated again until the late 1980’s.
Little is known about what had happen between the transitions. Various testimonies states a disagreement within the Athletic Department, but as the coaching staff began to change so did the attitude of the athletes. There became a barrier between the coach and the athlete. Few if any of the athletes from the Renaissance period where making the transition. Many had gone or were completing their athletic/academic scholarships. A new and younger era of stars were approaching. The national recognition brought by the team was now being under the microscope. Their competitors were reviewing what The University of Florida Track program would produce next. Very little had happen. The sport was entering the metric system and now competing with the rest of the world. There was developing a strong dissimulation between the athlete and the coach. The decline of the sport was insight. Many theories speculate that the coaching staffs were trying to ride the tails of their prior comrades, with little or nothing to contribute. Other theories prevail that the younger athletes trusted in the program to hone their talents with much disillusion. The connection between the athlete and coach had reached a deep low. By 1977-1979 the program had produced very few SEC champions.
Based on the little information known about the Track Women of The University of Florida there progression was very slow. In the 1970’s and 1980’s these female athletes did not have a locker room. They had to dress for practice in these respective dorms. There was not dormitory which housed the female athletes during the Renaissance and Dark Age period. Their recognition was carried by the UF Trackmen program. Very few were highlighted and or singled out to express their views. Some resources state that their program began in the early 1970’s. There is little known about their programs progression throughout these eras. However, they were a strong force to be reckon with. Little is known about their coaching turnover rate. Their friendships remain in tact throughout the decades.
These “Dark Ages” were a time when boys were entering manhood. This was a time when these young men were looking for new rules and customs to better their physical athleticism. They were seeking a higher level of organization and competitiveness. There hearts were set on breaking records or personally enhancing their performances. They were seeking a well-defined criteria of excellence. They were seeking to hone good sportsmanship and to entertain a broad range of competitors. The sportsmanship they brought with them to this era was a courtesy towards opponents and teammates, only to be faced by a aggressive disillusion.
These “Dark Ages” revealed the breaking down of these young men inter-selves. This was an era when these young men felt they were coaching themselves. Many saw their natural talents crushed. Many were not use to losing on a consecutive basis. As many began to see no light, the track became dark, thus “The Dark Ages”.
WE ARE NOT FORGOTTEN
Copyright Hugo “Hugeaux” R. Miller All Rights Reserved. Registered with the Copyright Offices of the United States of America, Library of Congress. USA
Founding the University of Florida Track Alumni
On April 2, 2011 a group of former UF Track men met at the 2011 Florida Relays at Percy Beard Field on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. They were: Hugo Miller, James Pringle, Bernard Scott, Bob Braman, Curt Luster, Beaufort Brown, Tim Sagel and a young member of the current UF Track team who was sitting very quietly amongst us and listening. After talking, laughing and greeting, some haven’t seen each other in 30 years, wecelebrated the good and bad time on the UF Track Team. I keep calling the time I was on the UF Track team as the “Dark Period”, when Curt Luster coined that era as “ The Dark Ages from 1977 - 1983”. I immediately adopted the phrase. As the evening was winding down, we said our goodbyes and vowed to stay in touch. Hugo Miller and James Pringle left together and began talking about why we aren’t better in touch with each other. As we walked from The Percy Beard track to the O’Connell Center (the long way) we decided something need to be done. We talked about how there is little or nothing about us fellow UF Track team, as if we did not exist. I mentioned to James that I document for a living and that this task would be very easy for me…but how? We mention a sort of Alumni need to be started.
As I took the one hour drive back to Jacksonville, Florida I decided on how I can formulate this and decided to create a website for all fellow UF Trackmen to get in touch with each other. I initially wanted it to be just men from the Dark Ages, until the other Trackmen from the early 1970’s want to be apart. I immediately changed the title, then the Trackmen of the 1960’s wanted to be included. I immediately changed the names again. Then I received a phone call from fellow UF Trackman Andy Walker who was driving back from Tampa to Atlanta and he mentioned that I should also include the women. I immediately changed the name again. I then received an email from fellow UF Trackmen Dr. Liston Bochette III “LinBo” about including the coaches, so I decided to chronology the coaches. All this took place within 7 days.
I created The Trackmen Archives website. www.trackmenarchives.com. The minute it went public the viewers started pouring in by the hundreds. This has now become too large for me to manage, so I decided that I must create an Alumni to document all this information. I first started with a UF Track & Field Alumni Databank. I gathered personal information to save for our recorded documentation. Secondly, I asked all the UF Track men to create a biography and send it to me and thirdly I asked them to register on the website as a member and create a vintage UF Track photo-album. The response was overwhelming but lacking a lot of information. I asked James Pringle to assist me, by getting in touch with the Gator Booster Club to gather any information about us fellow UF Track men. There information was limited. This created my first dilemma. I decided to confront this dilemma by using the resources I have obtain and got them involved. I immediately asked the members to contact others and send them to me. The responds can nationally and internationally. The information was too much for the free website subscription so I had to purchase the website and domain name to get more space.
With all this information gathered it has made my computer vulnerable, I knew I had to back up the file. I decided to choose a cabinet of officers for this task and more. I decided to choose those fellow UF Trackmen whose passion for our preservation equaled mine. I chose: James Pringle, Cullen Mattox, Dr. Liston Bochette III, Richard Grobman and Tom Doerr. These men are my backbone in case of injury. A-star Group.
This is how the University of Florida Track & Field Alumni began.
Christian Taylor: Mens Triple Jump
The 2012 Olympic Games were held in London, Great Britian. On Thursday, August 9, 2012, between 7:20pm to 8:45pm, Christian Taylor became the first University of Florida Track and Field Alumni to win a individual Olympic event in the history of the University of Florida Track & Field program, 1923 to 2012. Christian Taylor represented the United States of America Team. His event was the Mens Triple Jump and he jumped 17.81 meters / 58.4 feet. Finishing second was another University of Florida Track & Field Alumni Will Claye. He jumped 17.62 meters / 57.8 feet. These men won the Gold and Silver in the Olympic making it the first time in the history of The University of Florida Track & Field program that alumni finished first and second in an Olympics.
University of Florida
Track Team History by Richard Grobman
It was a beautiful spring afternoon in May of 1983 at Athens, Georgia. I
remember it like it was yesterday, it was the last time I would compete for the University of Florida Track and Field Team. In fact, it was probably the last competitive throw of my Track and Field career. Our team would place third in the S.E.C. Outdoor Championships that year. I was in denial. I could not believe my college athletic experience was ending. Some of my teammates went home after the meet to begin their summer, some went back to U.F. to finish up the summer “A” term and some returned to Gainesville to workout and prepare for the NCAA Championships.
The Monday following the S.E.C’s, I continued to workout with my roommate John Amabile to provide him with some moral support while he trained for the NCAA’s. Before I knew it, I finished my last final exam and would take my last walk from Matherly Hall, past Florida Field and Yon Hall, walk by the O’Connell Center, Baseball Field and complete my journey to Percy Beard Track. I remember getting in my car intending to drive to my apartment, finish packing and begin my long drive home to Pennsylvania. But before I put the keys in the ignition, I stopped. I got out
of my car and walked one last time to the javelin runway and I just took a look around. I proceeded back to my car and stopped at the top of the wooden stairs on the east side of the track which I probably walked up 1000 times. I paused, and took a moment to remember four years which I could not believe were over. Many memories flashed through my mind, the workouts, the meets, my teammates, coaches, trainers, equipment managers etc. I shook my head in disbelief, got in the car and began my long drive home.
Driving for 16 hours by yourself gives you time to reflect. I thought of my accomplishments as well as those goals I was unable to obtain. I was ready to begin a new chapter in my life and hopefully I could approach it with the same enthusiasm as I did Track and Field at Florida. Well fast forward almost 30 years later and there has been a lot of time to reflect, as well as view my experience from a different perspective.
Throughout all of our triumphs as well as our struggles, being part of The
University of Florida Track and Field team not only prepared me, but also helped mold me for life. I can now look back and understand many things much more clearly. I can appreciate having the opportunity to be part of something that precedes me by over 50 years and hopefully will last multiples of 50 years past me. All of us are but a mere link in a chain that we hope will continue indefinitely. The bonds that hold our
chain together are the friendships we made while we competed for The University of Florida, the memories, and the University itself. Regardless of the time period which we competed, we are all bound together. We all share many of the same experiences. We all practiced and competed to our fullest. We all had success as well as failure. We all had those moments when we loved our coaches, as well as those moments when we were angry at them. (The coaches had those same moments with us.) But through it all, having these experiences at the University of Florida have helped make us what we are today. I couldn’t think of a better University or a better group of people to be associated with.
Hopefully, our team will continue to flourish both on and off the track as our newer teammates “Take the Baton” and continue to run with it.
(....go to the Biographies webpage)
Hugo R. Miller
UF Track 1979 - 1981
UF Track 1973 - 1976
UF Track 1968 - 1972
C. Diane Poole
UF Women Track 1974 - 1976
UF Track 1976 - 1980
NCAA Champion, UF Hall of Fame
UF Track 1979 - 1983
Captain UF Track Team 1983
Copyright Hugo "Hugeaux" R. Miller All Rights Reserved. Registered with the Library of Congress. USA Copyright Office.
The Years at University of Florida Track & Field 1977 - 1983 by Hugo "Hugeaux" R. Miller
is registered with the Library of Congress of the United States Copyright Office. USA
Copyright Number: TXu001767641
Copyright James Pringle All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright Thomas Doerr All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright C. Diane Poole All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright Dr. Liston Bochette III All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright Richard Grobman All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright Donne Hale Jr. All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.
Copyright Charles E. McPhilomy All Rights Reserved. Permission Granted.