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How Bill Bowerman Helped Build Nike

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Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman built a brand with a waffle iron and a desire to make running shoes that better served his track athletes at the University of Oregon. As a coach at the Eugene, Oregon institution, Bowerman started a partnership with Phil Knight, a former Oregon miler, to create a sneaker distribution company  called Blue Ribbon Sports, which later became Nike, Inc.

In the 1960s, Bowerman’s design savvy led to the creation of sneakers such as the Nike Cortez, which today stands as one of the most iconic Nike silhouettes of all time. With the launch of the Waffle Trainer in 1974, whose tread was famously created with Bowerman’s wife’s waffle iron, Nike and Bowerman cemented their place in sneaker history, launching the brand toward the forefront of sportswear technology and style. Today, Nike’s world headquarters are located at One Bowerman Drive in Beaverton, Oregon, an ode to the legacy and influence of the Oregon Track and Field coach who helped shape the brand’s products, outlook and attitude.