On our South Beltline campus, Willis Ware can be found all over the place. Whether he’s patrolling the Upper School, interacting with students, teaching classes, coordinating community service projects, organizing clubs and meetings, or coaching up his Cross Country or Track dynasties, saying that Coach Ware covers a lot of ground is truly an understatement. But while it may seem that he is constantly on the move, now is nothing compared to the journey that’s taken him to Columbia, which includes an incredible collegiate career as a runner at the University of Missouri.
On September 8th, Ware joined his teammates back in Columbia, MO, as their team was honored during the Missouri home football game against Wyoming, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1979 Track & Field Conference Championship.
Ware earned a varsity spot as a freshman on the Missouri cross country team (which finished the season ranked 18th in the nation), and earned all-conference recognition both his junior and senior years at Mizzou. Additionally, he also served as a team captain during his junior and senior years.
During the recent reunion trip, the group was welcomed with a reception and given a tour of the athletic facilities on Friday afternoon. At a dinner on Friday night, the team was recognized and presented with mini replicas of the championship trophy. Saturday’s football game saw the team honored on the field in front of the home crowd, celebrating the 40-year anniversary.
On this particular team, five track & field athletes went on to compete in the Olympic Games (1980, 1984, 1988). Additionally, one Mizzou relay team broke a world record, and three relay teams from Missouri finished ranked number one the nation by Track & Field News Magazine. Ware’s 4 x 800 relay team finished the year ranked Number 1 in the nation, and number 5 in the world.
As anyone who follows Heathwood track and cross country knows, Ware's record of success didn't stop in college. In the last 13 years, the Heathwood Girls Track program has won four state championships and finished as state runner-up five times, and has won individual state championships in all 17 events held in SC high school track and field--and Ware himself has been named State Coach of the Year four times.