In forty-plus years of coaching and teaching at Tennessee State University, Ed Temple compiled an outstanding record of success that included 40 Olympians and a 90 percent graduation rate among his athletes.
Temple was an all-state athlete in track, football, and basketball at John Harris High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate at Tennessee State University, he was an accomplished sprinter, running 9.7 in the 100 yard dash and 21.5 for 220 yards. After graduating, Temple worked as Tennessee State’s assistant women’s track & field coach in 1953 while pursuing his master’s degree. Later that same year, he became head women’s coach and gave the team the name “Tigerbelles.”
With Temple’s coaching, the Tigerbelles quickly became perennial national champions, capturing a total of 34 team titles: 16 indoors, 13 outdoors, and five in junior competition. An astounding 40 Tigerbelles became Olympians, winning 23 medals (13 of them gold); his star pupils include Olympic Gold Medalists Mae Faggs, Barbara Jones, Edith McGuire, Madeline Manning Mims, Wilma Rudolph, Wyomia Tyus, and Lucinda Williams. The Tigerbelles were equally successful in the classroom; about 90 percent of his athletes earned bachelor’s degrees, and many also earned advanced degrees.
Temple was honored as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s team in both 1960 and 1964 and as an assistant coach in 1980. Among his many national coaching appointments, he also served as head women’s coach for the 1958 and 1959 dual meets between the USA and the USSR and head women’s coach at the 1959 and 1975 Pan-American Games.
Also an associate professor of sociology at Tennessee State, Temple retired from full-time teaching and coaching in 1994. He has been elected to nine Halls of Fame, including the USATF Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, the Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame, and the Black Athletes Hall of Fame. Temple also authored two books based on his years working with the Tigerbelles.
The Temple legacy continues in recognitions such as the Edward S. Temple Track at Tennessee State; Ed Temple Boulevard in Nashville, adjacent to the TSU campus; and the Edward S. Temple Seminars: Society and Sports, held annually at Tennessee State.