Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Track and Field » Jesse Owens - Part Of The Great Migration, Athletic Success As A Teenager, Chronology, Related Biography: Coach Charles Riley

Jesse Owens - Related Biography: Coach Charles Riley

school time former running

Charles Riley was born in 1878 and grew up in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, where he labored as a miner and mill worker. Although he dropped out of high school to work, Riley later attended Temple University in Philadelphia and eventually secured a job as a teacher and coach at Fairmount Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio. The job paid so little that Riley had to work as a playground superintendent during the summer to support his family, including one son who was born crippled.

Immediately realizing Jesse Owens's potential, Riley took the junior high schooler under his wing with extra practice sessions held in the morning so as not to interfere with the youngster's after-school work obligations. He also invited Owens to his home and treated him like a member of his own family, rare in a time of both informal and legal racial segregation. Owens considered Riley as his second father, and Riley held Owens in equal regard.

Riley's contributions to his student's development occurred both on and off the field. Riley helped to refine Owens's running style; after taking him to see race horses in training to inspire his student, Owens's performance improved markedly. Owens also credited Riley with telling him to run as though the track were on fire, with quick fluid steps and an upright carriage. The advice was a departure from the standard running style of the time and gave Owens an edge against his competition. Off the track, Riley's relationship with Owens gave the young man the confidence he needed to break the racial barriers that then frequently denied equal opportunities to African Americans.

Riley retired and moved to Florida in 1943. Between 1946 and 1960 he had no contact with his acclaimed former pupil, an experience that left him disillusioned. Despite the disappointment, he accepted an invitation to honor Owens at a 1960 television broadcast of This Is Your Life. It was the last time that the coach and his former pupil would meet, as Riley died later that year.

Jesse Owens - Awards And Accomplishments [next] [back] Jesse Owens - Chronology

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about 10 years ago

can you describe more about how coach riley descorverd Jesse Owens like how he made the gym class run that one day

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about 6 years ago

Can you tell where coach riley lived in the 1930's?

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about 4 years ago

The biography is nicely presented and i hope to find more of the content like this in future on this website.

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over 4 years ago

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over 4 years ago

Its a good program MyMicrobes made for us.Hope most of us will like this article.I will really appreciate the researchers for their great effort. www.onlinestoresdeals.com

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over 5 years ago

I'm just reading "Blackthink" by Jesse Owens, and I'm impressed of what Jesse tells about his trainer and white friend. That's why I wanted to learn more about this man and his life.