Gathering to dedicate new track, honor veteran coach

The story of the Bill Cockerham Track at Fresno Pacific University is the story of a teacher and coach who influenced many in 30 years—and one former student's desire to say thank you.

The tale will be told April 6-7 when Cockerham, Gregory and others will gather April 6-7 to dedicate the newly completed Bill Cockerham Track. Events include a track meet and hall of fame induction.

The friendship between coach Bill Cockerham and student Don Gregory began in June 1971, when both were new to Fresno Pacific. "I think it was his first day there," said Gregory, now a Valley cardiologist. A Fresno native, Gregory wanted to attend a local school and continue competitive running. "I just came out and asked if I could run."

Cockerham's affirmative was only the beginning of his generosity. "He was a guy who welcomed everybody equally, you didn't have to be the star of the team," Gregory said. A cross between father and peer, Cockerham could joke with his students, lead them in Bible study and literally open his home to those in need. "Some actually lived with him," Gregory said. "There wasn't anything he wouldn't do."

Not only Cockerham's personal example, but his lessons on the value of work carried Gregory from track through undergraduate studies and medical school. "You reap what you sow, you put in the work and you'll see the results," Gregory said. "Coach taught on the track but it applies to all aspects of life."

So when the opportunity came for Gregory to support his alma mater and honor his mentor, it seemed natural for Gregory to give the major gift for the track that bears Cockerham's name. "I got behind the track project because my values were set there," Gregory said. 

FresnoPacific Universityis an accredited Christian university included in U.S. News & World Report's college guide. Located on a 42-acre, park-like campus in southeast Fresno, FPU has an enrollment of 1,800 students—half in graduate and half in undergraduate programs. The university also enrolls 12,000 students annually in its professional development studies programs offered locally and throughout the world.

Dedication events:

Hall of fame dessert: 7 p.m. April 6 in Room 218-219 of Wiebe Education Center.

  • Roger Trujillo, 1974 graduate;
  • Rick Penner, 1973 graduate;
  • Jerry Huhn, track coach from 1968-73, will be honored.

Track dedication: 1:30 p.m. at the track, located east of the soccer field on the FPU campus.

Premier track meet: 2 p.m. at the track. The FPU Sunbirds take on Biola University, Vanguard University and Westmont University.

For information on all events, call the FPU Athletic Office at 453-2009.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations