- Remembering the life of Legendary Track and Field Coach Ed Temple: Coach Temple passed away late Thursday evening at the age of 89. He led the Tigerbelles from 1953 to 1994 and served as head coach of the U.S. Olympics women's teams in 1960 and 1964 and assistant coach in 1980.
The life of Edward Stanley Temple cannot simply be defined by his accomplishments as a track and field coach. Although his accolades are impressive, including an induction to nine halls of fame, 34 national titles and guiding his athletes to 23 Olympic medals, his life was so much more.
Coach Temple was an educator, and the amount of lives he touched will always be his legacy. He demanded excellence on the track but also in the classroom. The 40 athletes he led to Olympic appearances earned their college degrees. In addition to coaching, he was a professor in the Sociology department. He was also active in the Downtown Nashville YMCA, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Clark Memorial United Methodist Church.
As the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team, one of his star pupils, Wilma Rudolph, famously became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics, securing the top times in the 100m, 200m and as a member of the 4x100m relay team in 1960 in Rome. USA’s relay that year was made up of four Tigerbelles, Rudolph, Barbara Jones, Lucinda Williams and Martha Hudson.
His Olympic success continued in 1964, remaining the Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s Track and Field team for the second-consecutive games in Tokyo. Under the direction of Temple, Wyomia Tyus won the gold in the 100m, while Edith McGuice won the 200m in 1964. Tyus would go on to win gold in the 100m and with the 4x100m relay team in 1968 in Mexico City. Coach Temple was scheduled to serve as an assistant coach for the United States at the 1980 Olympics before the U.S. decided to boycott the games which were being held in Moscow.
The final Tigerbelle Coach Temple led to an Olympic gold medal is a name the TSU family is very familiar with, Chandra Cheeseborough. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Cheeseborough won the gold medal with the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay teams in addition to a silver medal in the 400m. Cheeseborough has carried on the Tigerbelle tradition, taking over for Coach Temple in 1994 and elevating to Director of Track and Field in 2011.
Other Tigerbelles to win medals for the U.S. in the Olympics while Temple was the Head Coach at TSU included Madeline Manning (Gold, 1968/Silver, 1972), Willye B. White (Silver, 1956), Kathy McMillian (Silver, 1976), Isabelle Daniels (Bronze, 1956), Margaret Matthews (Bronze, 1956) and Mae Faggs (Bronze, 1956).
In the Olympics, Coach Temple’s athletes represented a number of different countries including the United States, Panama, Bermuda and Jamaica. In addition to his time as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team, he also led the United States in the Pan-American Games in 1959 and 1975.
His legacy is remembered around campus as TSU’s outdoor track is named Edward S. Temple Track, and the road that runs next to campus is Ed Temple Boulevard. In the community, Temple’s life and career were memorialized by a nine-foot statue of 13,000 tons of granite unveiled during a ceremony at First Tennessee Park in Nashville in August of 2015. Every winter, the Tennessee State track and field teams host the Ed Temple Classic at the Wilma Rudolph Indoor Track and the Gentry Center.
His respect internationally and in the community was evident as he was a past member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the International Women’s Track and Field Committee and the Nashville Sports Council.
An accomplished athlete in his own right, Coach Temple was born in Harrisburg, Pa. on Sept. 20, 1927. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Tennessee A&I. He took over as Head Coach of the women's track and field team in 1953 and the rest is history. The Tigerbelles won 34 National Championships during his time in Nashville (16 Indoor, 13 Outdoor, and 5 Junior Championships).
Temple was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Helms Hall of Fame, Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, Harrisburg (PA) Central Area Chapter Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame, Black Athletes Hall of Fame, and Communiplex National Sports Hall of Fame.
QUOTES ABOUT COACH TEMPLE
-TSU President Glenda Glover
“Words cannot in any fashion or manner express how deeply saddened we are over the loss of our beloved Ed Temple. The TSU family has truly lost a precious gem and contributor to the history and legacy that is TSU. Most importantly, our hearts go out to his family.”
“His accomplishments are unparalleled and continue to resonate even today on our campus and with any organization participating in the sport. Of the 40 athletes Coach Temple trained and had participate in the Olympics, 100 percent of them received college degrees. This speaks to his greatness and impact. He was a legend of a man. I am so thankful and proud of all he did for the university. Tennessee State will always remember Ed Temple, the man and the coach.”
- TSU Director of Track and Field Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice
“I always looked at Coach Temple as a father figure and a man of truth and wisdom. He is one of the finest people I have ever had an opportunity to meet. He really brought out the best in me. He made me realize my potential that had not been tapped.”
"We have lost a giant in track and field. He definitely will be missed."
- TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips
"Our deepest condolences go out to Coach Temple's family and his extended family of Tigerbelles who symbolize the greatness of all that is TSU. We have truly lost a crown jewel in the treasure chest of our university. It is difficult to express the impact he's had on individual lives and advancing women in sports while he perfectly exemplified the balance between athletics and academics. His life, his work and his results are textbook of what one would like to emulate. The bar set by him cannot be measured."
- Olympic Gold Medalist/Tigerbelle Edith McGuire Duvall
"I met him when I was 15 and he was a father-figure to me because I lost my father when I was 18. He was someone who I really looked up to. He was my coach for a long time then he became my mentor. He was a person that I enjoyed being around and talking to because he had so much wisdom. He gave so much to his girls and he would always tell us that there is life after track. He wanted all of us to finish school."
"I was very blessed on Tuesday, which was his birthday to drive up to Nashville from Atlanta to see him and spend a few hours with him on his birthday. I'm so glad that I was able to do that."
- Olympic Gold Medalist/Tigerbelle Barbara Jones Slater
“We were all able to attend Tennessee State University under Coach Temple’s work-aid program. We learned early that education comes first. With his mentoring, his teaching and his advising, he instilled in each one of us that only the pure in heart would survive. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be the woman I am today. I am so grateful for him. I loved him very much, and I’m going to miss him very much.”
“I don’t know if any other coach could have coached all of us divas, but he had rules. Believe me, everyone knew if you broke any of those rules, we would go home no matter how great you were. He was such a great coach, and he was excellent at what he did.”
- Olympic Medalist/Tigerbelle Margaret Matthews Wilburn
“I just want to say how saddened I was to hear about Coach Temple’s passing. His death has left a very real void that can never be entirely filled. I knew him as a person of intelligence and integrity. He was always anxious to help. His life and career were an inspiration to all of us. As a coach, those Tigerbelles were fortunate to learn under his tutelage. I hope that we will continue to carry on his ideas, his knowledge and his morals into the world.”
- Olympic Medalist/Tigerbelle Isabelle Daniels
“He was a father away from home. He took care of his children. If Coach Temple hadn’t discovered me, I don’t believe I would have become an Olympian. It’s by grace of God that we connected. He invited me to be on the team, helped me graduate and be successful in this world. Everything that he taught me, I went and gave it back to my community.”
- Olympic Gold Medalists/Former TSU Student-Athlete and Coach Ralph Boston
"He had a mountain to climb when he took over the TSU program. It was an extreme challenge, to say the least. It was slim pickings. It was sparse and he had to make something out of nothing basically. He took it on first of all because he was an athlete. He was a sprinter. He was part of the sport, he loved the sport. I can't say this for sure, but he finished college, and so he needed a job and the job was offered. That's how it all started for him."
- Nashville Mayor Megan Barry
“Coach Ed Temple was a legendary leader who brought the women of Tennessee State University’s track and field program to the world stage, breaking down gender and racial barriers in the process. He was also passionate about a lot of other things besides athletics: All 40 of the Olympians from his TSU program graduated with a college degree. Coach Temple was in a league of his own as a coach and teacher, and Nashville will miss him dearly.”
- USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel
“We are all saddened to learn of the passing of the incomparable Ed Temple. Coach Temple’s impact on the sport of track & field is immeasurable. Not only was he a tremendous leader in the sport, he was an early champion for gender and racial equality in our country. The sport and our country is forever changed because of Ed Temple.”
- Former Florida A&M Track and Field Coach Bobby Lang
“Ed Temple was a gentlemen. He was a gentlemen first. He always has been. He was probably a better gentlemen than he was a coach. He was always a very helpful person. There was never a time in the year where you could call him for help and he not be ready to share some great ideas with you. That’s the type of guy Ed Temple was, along with being a great coach.”
- Former Murray State Track and Field Coach Margaret Simmons
“It’s wild because the first time I think I really knew who he was, I was an athlete, and I’m originally from Ohio. I was running for the CRD Cleveland Recreation Department. I remember I asked him, because at that time there were no synthetic tracks, we had cinder tracks. I asked him could I use his hammer. And I thought I had spoken to God. I mean that’s the way everyone felt about him. Absolutely incredible for what he did for women’s track and field. It’s really a pretty sad day.”
- Former Southeast Missouri Track and Field Coach/ Former Lipscomb Athlete Joey Haines
“Coach Temple was just way ahead of everyone else. He got so much out of his athletes, and he was one of those coaches that demanded so much from them, but he got it from them, and they were the fastest women in the world. Best to his family and Coach Cheeseborough because she was one of his best and followed in his footsteps.”