One of Nike’s original employees loses his battle with cancer.
Geoff Hollister, one of the Nike’s first employees who ran collegiately at the University of Oregon, died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.
As a freshman at Oregon, legendary coach Bill Bowerman entered a partnership with Phil Knight, who had run for Bowerman at Oregon in the 1950s. They formed Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), a small Portland-based U.S. distributor for Tiger athletic shoes, which later became Nike.
Hollister often wore prototype shoes for Bowerman, who was constantly tinkering with running shoes, trying to create a lighter, yet durable shoe that would give his runners an edge. In 1967, Knight offered Hollister the opportunity to sell Tiger running and training shoes for BRS on commission, the beginning of a relationship that would last the remainder of Hollister’s life.
From 1997 to 1999, Hollister was responsible for re-energizing Nike’s grassroots running program, strengthening its ties to high school and college track teams. That led to the development of the Bowerman Project in 2000, the year after Bowerman’s December 1999 passing.
Through the Bowerman Project, Hollister managed a team that awarded matching funds to refurbish track facilities in Oregon, the U.S. and around the world. Hollister retired from Nike in 2002, but remained active with the company as a consultant.