The Field House at Evanston Township High School will be dedicated as the Willie May Field House in a special ceremony at the school next month.

Willie L. May (no relation to baseball great Willie Mays) was a hurdler who was honored many times for his athletic prowess.

But he was also a beloved track coach at ETHS from the 1960s until his retirement from teaching in 2000 and as head coach in 2006.

Born in Alabama in 1936, May attended Blue Island High School, now Eisenhower High, where he lead the school to an Illinois state championship in 1955 while personally collecting gold medals in the 120-yard high hurdles, 180-yard low hurdles, and in the 880-yard relay with Ron Helberg, who also went on to coach at ETHS.

From Blue Island, May went to Indiana University, winning seven Big Ten championships in the hurdles from 1957-59.

He won the silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.and another silver medal in the Pan American games in 1963.

During his coaching tenure at ETHS, the school won four IHSA state championships in 1970,1971, 1972, and 1974 and 24 consecutive Central Suburban League Championships, five IHSA State Trophies including the State Championship in 1979, and developed more than 50 state medalists.

Coach May also worked with co-Athletic Director, Shirley Nannini, to develop gender equality within ETHS athletics during his years as Athletic Director from 1983-2000.

Coach May has been inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Illinois Track & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

He died in 2012 from  amyloidosis, a rare blood disease.

The Field House dedication ceremony will be held at the school on Friday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m.. The community is invited to attend.

Related story:

Olympic medalist and former ETHS athletic director dies

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. A Fitting Tribute to a wonderful man!

    Bravo – this is a fitting tribute to a wonderful man and an amazing coach! I had the honor of attending ETHS 1969 – 1973, and being coached by Willie May while playing football for Murney Lazier… and in gym class too!

    God bless him! Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas ETHS ’73

  2. Great coach, great man, and

    Great coach, great man, and had the most distinguished walk I’ve ever seen. A most appropriate honor.

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