Hayward Field

Bobby Robinson and Charles Williams

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1927 - Bobby Robinson (Football, which was played at Hayward Field then) and Charles Williams (track and field and football) are the first Black athletes at the University of Oregon. Robinson started at quarterback in a 7-0 win over Linfield while Robinson became a third-team all-Pacific Coast Conference pole vaulter. When Robinson and Williams arrived on campus, they were barred from living in the “Whites Only” campus dorms and lived in off-campus apartments during their freshman year. The other football players signed a petition and submitted it to the school under protest, demanding that Williams and Robinson be allowed to live on campus in the dormitories with them. By their sophomore year, the university relented, and they were permitted to reside in Friendly Hall. However, because of continued segregation policies, Williams and Robinson were separated from their team and only permitted to enter the building through their own designated entrance. Williams and Robinson helped Oregon put together a 9-2 football season in 1928. It was the first time in school history that nine wins had been reached; a feat that would only be surpassed 72 years later when Oregon racked up 10 victories in 2000.

Mack Robinson

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1938 - Mack Robinson is Oregon’s first Black NCAA Champion in track and field, winning the 220-yard dash. Robinson was also the 1938 Pacific Coast Conference champion in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump. Success wasn’t new for Robinson, as two years earlier, in 1936, Robinson won the silver medal at the Berlin Olympics, finishing just behind Jesse Owens in the 200-meters. Trailblazing was part of the family, as Mack was the older brother of Jackie Robinson.

Otis Davis

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1960 - Otis Davis became the first Oregon athlete to win a gold medal when he won the 400-meters at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. The feat earned him a spot on the tower at Hayward Field (seen in the photo above). Davis originally came to Oregon on a basketball scholarship but joined the track team under legendary coach Bill Bowerman. Davis never ran track before but saw the team working out from his dorm window and thought that was something he could do too. He had only run in a handful of competitive races before winning two golds in Rome in the 400-meters and the 4x400-meter relay. Davis said after winning, when he stood on the medal stand in Rome, he thought about growing up in segregated Alabama, and how proud his grandmother would have been to see him. He voiced support for the ongoing 1960s racial justice protests across the country. "Segregation, it didn't stop me," Davis said. "Because I always believed I could be something."

Georgene Rose

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1976 - 49 years after Charles Williams broke the color barrier for the men’s track and field team, Georgene Rose becomes the first Black varsity female student-athlete at Oregon, enrolling in 1975 and competing for the track and field team in 1976. 

Quenna Beasley

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1983 - Quenna Beasley won NorPac Conference titles in the shot put and discus and became Oregon’s first Black NCAA All-American by finishing seventh in the shot put at the 1983 track and field national championships. She would go on to be a four-time All-American as women’s collegiate sports transitioned from the AIAW to the NCAA. After twice setting school records in the shot put as a sophomore, she proceeded to eclipse those marks on six occasions in 1983 and four times in the discus over the 1983 and 1985 seasons. 

Ashton Eaton

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2010 - Ashton Eaton set a world record in the heptathlon with a score of 6,499 while winning the NCAA Indoor title and followed that up with a third consecutive win in the NCAA Outdoor decathlon. Eaton won The Bowerman Award in 2010 as the nation's top track and field athlete. Following his collegiate career, Eaton went on to win gold in the decathlon at the 2012 Olympics in London. He repeated as the gold medal winner in the decathlon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. During his prolific career, Eaton set and broke the world records in the heptathlon and decathlon five different times.

Robert Johnson

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2014 - Robert Johnson became the first Black head coach to win a national championship at Oregon when the men’s and women’s track and field teams swept the NCAA Indoor Championships. Johnson led the Oregon track and field and cross country programs to a combined 13 NCAA team titles. 

Directions to next stop - Rec Fields & Tennis Courts

From the tower, head south along Agate Street and take a right turn at 18th Street. From there you'll head West alongside the UO rec fields, which was once where the Oregon soccer team played, and UO tennis courts.