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This is Part 2 of a multi-part article. Click here for Part 1.
Along with the award nomination, this biography was compiled by Urla Hill, M.A., Guest Curator at SJSU. Her website is Speed City: From Civil Rights to Black Power.
Winter, a University of California graduate, began his coaching career at Salinas High School in 1931 before moving onto Salinas Junior College (nee Hartnell College). It was there he would coach the late, great Hal Davis – who also was known as the California Comet.
During the fall of 1940, Winter began his illustrious career as coach at SJSU. He would begin by coaching the freshman football team in the fall and track and field in the spring. It was here that he would team with DeWitt Portal – who started the boxing team – and Dr. Dorothy H. Yates, who taught psychology. Before Winter’s arrival on campus, Yates and Portal had teamed to conduct research to determine how psychology might improve the athletic performance of Portal’s pugilists. Deemed a success, Yates began to teach a class on relaxation for the Spartans. Winter, a psychology major at Cal, too, would be in attendance.
Before Winter’s team could begin work with Yates, the U.S. would enter World War II and he would join the Navy. (However, he did bring Yates onboard a committee that studied the use of relaxation techniques on cadets training at the Navy Pre-Flight School.) In the Navy, Winter would train pilots to remain calm in battle. The techniques he developed training pilots would be reflected by his athletes (and later in Relax and Win: Championship Performance in Whatever You Do, one of the several books he wrote). Norton became Winter’s test pilot on the track.
Former Jamaican Olympian and SJSU sprinter Dennis Johnson – who tied the world record for the 100-yard dash four times within a six-week period in 1961 – certainly believed in Winter. In 1966, the Jamaican Jet put together a series of training seminars in his home country at which Winter would speak. Upon Johnson’s return to Jamaica, he took it upon himself to set up a collegiate athletic program capable of competing against the world’s best.
According to Jamaican coach Glen Mills, Winter’s “coaching methods and philosophy changed the landscape of sprinting.” Mills, as Winter, guided a young sprinter to the status of World’s Fastest Human: Under Winter, Norton led the world in the 100 and 200 meters in 1959 and ’60. Mills coaches Usain Bolt, the current world record holder in those events. Mills first encountered Winter when he traveled to Jamaica to put on the coaching seminars. Steven Francis – who coached another 100-meter world record holder, Asafa Powell – also was in attendance.
“I was impressed with his methods and gained tremendous knowledge from his book So you Want to be a Sprinter,” Mills said. “This knowledge has played a significant role in shaping my philosophy as a coach, and has contributed to my success as a sprint coach.”
“Bud was open to new ideas,” said Dr. Tom Lionvale, who based his psychological studies in a doctoral program at the University of Oregon on what he learned from Winter. “His drills were a thing of beauty in that his drills were sprinting drills . . . His drills emphasized the whole action, and now there are drills for sprinting to do apart. The drills are too fragmented, as far as I am concerned. In competition those drills don’t flow together easily, as you can see in the (film that Winter produced in 1967).”
Norton began coaching track while playing professional football, as he worked out at under his former track coach, Ben Coleman, of Oakland’s McClymonds High School. “Basically,” explains Norton, an Olympic competitor in 1960, “(Winter) was teaching us to coach without our being aware. We built skills for ourselves, and could correct other things on other athletes to help them be faster. Doing that, you had a tendency to believe that you could coach, too. If you could correct others, you could correct what you were doing.” Norton would later coach at Merritt College in Oakland, along with Maurice Compton, another Winter protegee.
“My high school coach asked me if I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond when I told him I wanted to go to San José State,” said Bob Rush, who competed for the Spartans during the mid fifties, and coached at the College of San Mateo for 30 years before retiring in 1995. “I told him I would be a little fish . . . I went to San José State. San José State was the place to go to be a physical educator and a coach. It was the best in country.” Rush, who invented the Chronomix, an electronic timing device for group races taking place on the road and track, graduated from SJSU in ’57.
“I was fortunate to have been coached by outstanding track coaches in junior high and high school,” said Frank Slaton, who coached 30-plus years with the desire to show youngsters that using their “God-given talents” could be a life-changing experience.
“During my high school years, our track team would travel to compete against San José State’s freshman team. That was my first introduction to Coach Winter. Being fortunate to later be coached by Bud was truly a dream come true. I was not one of Speed City’s star athletes, but was treated as an integral part. Through Bud I learned that by using my God-given talents, I could better myself not only as an athlete, but as a young man.”