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Cal Hall Of Famer Willie White Passes Away

Jul 15, 2021

BERKELEY – The California Track & Field family lost a beloved member when coaching legend Willie L. White passed away on June 29, 2021. He was 82 years old.

White was inducted to the Jefferson High School Hall of Fame, Acadia Invitational Hall of Fame in 1995, Cal Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, Adidas Sacto Meet of Champions Hall of Fame in 2006, and Los Angeles Harbor College Athletic Hall of Fame, in 2008. He was a member of two world record Cal sprint medley relay teams, helping the Bears post times of 3:19.8 in 1958 and coming back the same year to better that mark with a 3:18.8 in the spring.

As a member of the graduating Golden Bear class in 1960, White earned NCAA All-America honors by finishing fourth in the 100-yard dash and was sixth nationally in the 100-yard dash in 1958. He was also the Pacific Coast Conference champion in the 100-yard dash in 1958 with a time of 9.6.

White won the PCC 220 low hurdles in 1959 with a time of 23.0 and ran a 9.8 to win the Pac-8 title in the 100-yard dash in 1960.

After a stellar running career, White served as the head track & field coach at Berkeley High from 1969-84, where he coached current Cal Director of Track & Field/Cross Country, Robyne Johnson.

"Mr. Willie White impacted hundreds, dare I say thousands, of athletes during his long, successful career in coaching," Johnson said. "He was a hero to us all and he will be sorely missed. I was fortunate to see him last year before the pandemic hit and my deepest condolences go out to his family. We all loved you Mr. White."

During White's 20-year tenure at Berkeley, he coached the girl's team to five state titles, winning in 1974, 1976, and three more consecutively from 1981-83. He also coached the boy's team to championships in 1980 and 1981. The Girls won 6 championships meets and the boys won 2 California State Championship setting California state meet record history with both genders winning in the same year.

White went on to become the Assistant Track & Field Coach and Head Coach of Volleyball at Cal State East Bay from 1984 to 1996. During the time many of the athletes won or placed in the top 6% at the conference champions or NCAA Division II competitions. He coached at Pittsburgh High School and was instrumental in reviving track & field and Girl's Day Sports for Oakland Parks and Recreation.

Coach White has received countless honors and awards for over 60 years of track and field. In 1981, the City of Berkeley proclaimed July 11th "Coach Willie White Day" and in 2014, City of Oakland proclaimed June 7th "Willie White Day" and in 2016, he was honored with Legacy Coaches Award from the Pacific Association of USA Track and Field.

Track & field and community remained an important part of White's life for decades. He coached the Berkeley East Bay Track Club, East Oakland Track Group, and East Oakland Track Gems (EOTG).  In 2014, several of his athletes qualified and competed internationally in Australia—he was still coaching the Gems in January 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coach White dedicated his life to the betterment and development of youth. To support his vision of community-based track & field, and in his memory, the family asks donations to be made to the East Oakland Track Gems at https://my.cheddarup.com/c/in-memory-of-coach-e