Class Years: ’68 & ’69
Degrees: BS and MS in Education
Hometown: Western Springs, Illinois
Fun Fact: Witek is the only nonprofessional athlete to have an athletic shoe named after him by a major shoe company.
About his career: I retired this year from forty-seven years as a professor and coach at Brevard College. I started as an instructor and head track/cross country coach. We won Brevard College’s first national title, in the marathon, followed by four straight national cross country championships beginning in 1982. I spent eight years as dean of students. Then, in 1993, I returned to the classroom as a professor of exercise science, in charge of
physical education licensure and a coaching minor.
How he got to UT: I ran track at Lyons Township High School and was recruited by Coach Chuck Rohe. I ended up getting a full scholarship to UT. I have six brothers and sisters, and I was the first to attend college. It was a wonderful opportunity for me.
How UT prepared him: I never planned to go to college. But UT gave me the opportunity to go to school and run. It gave me a chance to get my education, which I would have never done otherwise. It also gave me a chance to fulfill my career goals. My goal was to be a college coach, and I was able to get a job at Brevard College with help from Coach Rohe and the contacts he had.
Having a shoe named for him: One of my runners at Brevard, Mikal Peveto, worked as the senior product manager for Adidas. He developed and marketed running shoes worldwide. He brought his team to my running camp, which is the largest running camp in the US. Mikal and five vice presidents came for a retreat and to develop new technology for a women’s running shoe. They named the shoe “Brevard.” After four or five years,
they wanted to retool the shoe and honor my coaching career. Though the “Witek” women’s running shoe was only available in Europe, I was able get a pair when I
visited my son in Germany.
About the family: I’m married to Nancy Williamson. I have three sons, Steven (High Point, NC), Berry (Australia), Kyle (Boston), one daughter, Wendi (Greenville, SC)
and three grandchildren.
Retirement: I never read any of the classics when I was young, so I’m working on a list of “100 books to read in your lifetime” that gives you the equivalent of a liberal arts education. I’ve read eight so far. We also plan to travel, and I am cleaning out my basement to put up my collection of 1954–57 American Flyer Trains.