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Oregon track history celebrated at Knight Library

The exhibit at Knight Library runs through March 22nd.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 12:28 PM

Eugene, Ore. -- Hayward Field as we know it my be gone, but Oregon track and field's history is as resolute as it as absolute. Over on the University of Oregon's campus is Knight Library, and within it an exhibit for those who want to remember the past while embracing the future. 

"The materials that we are showing have never been seen before and so it was an opportunity to bring out some of the hidden features of our collection," says Lauren Goss, a U of O archivist responsible for the Oregon spirit exhibit. As it happens, she has Duck athletics in her bloodlines too. 

"My mom was an athlete here in the 1970's, she played field hockey for three years on the varsity team," Goss explains. "And so understanding her experience as an undergraduate here and how important athletics was to her and that's carried through to the rest of our family."

The exhibit, focused on track's history in Eugene, includes some never before seen items including handmade spring spikes made by the legendary Bill Bowerman and a letter that changed Oregon in more ways than one...forever.

"We have the letter from the student track manager of the team in 1903 and he writes to President Campbell at the University of Oregon recommending that he hire Bill Hayward as the next coach."

The letter set Eugene on a course to become Tracktown USA, with Hayward's name gracing not only the track and field venue that the Ducks made home for over 75 years, but also the new, world class stadium replacing it. And the historical significance isn't lost on Oregon track and field coaches and athletes.

"Some of the letters there that I had no idea about," Oregon head track and field coach Robert Johnson says. "...And then some of the little speeches, little things like that, little memoribilia I find unique."

"It's just a really big deal," says Oregon jumper Tristan James.  "And I think all of the athletes, and athletes coming to the team and athletes that have been on the team, it means a lot to them."

And as old Hayward Field gives way to new Hayward Field, remembering the rich history of Oregon track and field is paramount to people like Goss.

"I think it's important to maintain those materials that lets exhibit materials today learn how the program started 100 years ago."

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