Tennessee State University scheduled a memorial service honoring Legendary Track and Field Coach Edward S. Temple for Friday, September 30, 2016 at 11 a.m. in Kean Hall Gymnasium, on the main campus. The service is open to the public as TSU, family, and friends celebrate the life of Coach Temple and his amazing accomplishments as a faculty member, coach, father and friend. Temple died Thursday, Sept. 22 at the age of 89 after an illness.
Coach Temple served as head coach of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Track Teams in 1960 and 1964; in 1980, he served as Assistant Coach for the Olympic track team. Under his leadership, five members of TSU’s track team earned gold medals at the Rome Olympics. Wilma Rudolph, alone, won three gold medals and became the first American woman to achieve such a feat at any of the Olympic Games.
Over the years, Temple went on to lead 40 athletes to the Olympics. His famed Tigerbelles, including Rudolph, snagged a total of 27 Olympic medals, 15 of which were gold. Nothing made him more proud than the accomplishments of his athletes.
“They are an inspiration to everybody,” Temple said in an interview shortly before his death. “It just shows what can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Temple’s achievements were even more impressive coming in the midst of severe racism and discrimination that permeated the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
“His accomplishments are unparalleled and continue to resonate even today on our campus and with any organization participating in the sport,” said TSU President Glenda Glover called. “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.”
Temple’s autobiography, Only the Pure in Heart Survive, was published in 1980. The book, along with additional papers and memorabilia from his lifetime of achievement, are part of the Special Collections department in TSU’s Brown-Daniel Library.
In addition to being part of the TSU Hall of Fame, Temple’s legacy continues in such recognitions as the Edward S. Temple Track at TSU; Ed Temple Boulevard in Nashville, adjacent to the TSU campus; the Edward Temple Award established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Track and Field Coaches Association; and the Edward S. Temple Seminars: Society and Sports, held annually at TSU. In 2015, a 9-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Temple’s likeness at First Tennessee Park in Nashville.
TSU track and field exhibits are a part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
They are there mainly because of Coach Temple and his accomplishments with the TSU program and Olympics.
To read more about Coach Ed Temple, visit: www.tnstate.edu/edtemple.