Charlie Durham

Charlie Durham was one of the original founders of the Knoxville Track Club. In 1961 Charlie organized a new AAU track team named the Knoxville Track Club and took them to their first meet in Greenville, S.C. At this first meet, the KTC defeated the Piedmont Striders, Atlanta Track Club, and six other Southeastern AAU teams to win the championship.

When Chuck Rohe was named UT track and field coach in the summer of 1962, Charlie and the KTC worked hand-in-hand with Coach Rohe, meeting every two weeks to make plans for the future. All of the UT freshman, transfer athletes, and post-graduate athletes competed for Knoxville Track Club, with Charlie Durham as coach. In 1963 his KTC cross-country team took third place in the National USTFF championship in Chicago.

In the spring of 1963 Charlie and Jerry Wrinkle directed the First Annual Volunteer Classic track and field meet at Evans-Collins Field, attracting 300 of the top high school trackmen from eight states. Charlie continued to direct the Vol Track Classic for 27 years. In his last year of directing the Vol Track Classic the meet drew 2350 athletes from 15 states and the VTC was named as the Top High School Track & Field Meet by Track & Field Magazine. This was a monumental event for KTC. In addition to directing the Vol Track Classic, Charlie was an active official at high school and UT meets for over 30 years.

In a time when there were no formal track programs in Tennessee for college or high school girls, with the lone exception of the famous Tennessee State University “Tigerbelles” in Nashville, Charlie started the first KTC women’s track program in 1966, developing stars like Terry Hull and Judy Penton. Charlie raised the funds, usually through Tom Siler, sports editor at the The News-Sentinel, and took KTC athletes to national meets like the Millrose Games, Mason-Dixon Games, and the National AAU and National USTFF meets.

Charlie and Hal Canfield started the KTC Youth Program in the late 1960’s at Tom Black Track. What started as about 150 kids, now numbers thousands at tracks around East Tennessee, under the current leadership of Marty Sonnenfeldt. Hundreds of outstanding high school and college athletes have come out of the KTC Youth Athletic Program.

Charlie Durham was honored as an inductee in the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.