Ed Temple is a legendary track and field pioneer and coach. Temple was the head women’s track and field coach at Tennessee State University for 44 years and head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s track and field team in 1960 and 1964.
Originally from Harrisburg, Pa., Temple played football through junior high school and high school. He was on the high school varsity squad in football, basketball and track. Temple played in the band during his junior high school career, but dropped his music studies in high school as sports became his pursuit.
In 1946, Temple moved to Nashville following Tom Harris, a coach from his hometown of Harrisburg. Harris had relocated to Nashville in order to start men’s and women’s track teams at what was then the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College.
In 1946, Temple attended Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College, now Tennessee State University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and physical education. In 1950, Temple married Charlie B. Law; their marriage lasted for 57 years, until her passing in 2008. The couple had two children, Lloyd Bernard and Dr. Edwina R. Temple.
In 1951, he took a position at the college as an associate professor of sociology and the assistant women’s track coach. He became head coach later that year. Temple named his team the Tigerbelles and, over the course of his 44-year career, led 40 members of the Tigerbelles team to 23 Olympic medals, 13 of which were gold. Temple’s Tigerbelle teams also won an astonishing 34 national championships under his leadership.
Temple coached Olympic champions Wilma Rudolph, Mae Faggs, Wyomia Tyus, Edith McGuire and Madeline Manning Mims, all of whom became Hall of Famers. In addition to his stints in 1960 and 1964, Temple served as assistant U.S. Olympic track coach in 1980. He was also head U.S. women’s track coach for the 1958 and 1959 dual meets with the USSR, and head women’s track coach at the 1959 and 1975 Pan-American Games.
Temple credits the legacy of positive character development that he instilled in his athletes as one of the highest honors of his career. Nearly all of the Tigerbelle women he coached completed a college education, with 80 percent of those earning master’s degrees. And almost half of those women went on to earn doctorates.
Since retiring from his professional coaching career in 1994, Temple has remained active in community affairs in Nashville, including service on the Nashville Sports Authority and the Nashville Sports Council. He is a past member of the U.S. Olympic Council. In July 2012, Temple was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.