In high school Tinker was always focused on becoming an Athlete. He won some state championships and earned a full athletic scholarship for track to the University of Oregon. It was at Oregon that Tinker met a hugely influential man by the name of Bill Bowerman. Bowerman never liked to be called Coach, instead giving himself the title of Teacher of Competitive Response. Upon. Bowerman was already de-signing and making Nike running shoes and track spikes from a little cobbler shop underneath the grandstands, with the sole purpose of making his athletes better.

Bill Bowerman, University of Oregon.

One of Tinker’s events was the pole vault – Bowerman believed he had the potential to be a national champion, and even become an Olympi-an. Tragedy hit for Tinker during his sophomore year. He fell 17ft on an uneven surface and tore his ankle, which required 5 surgeries and 2 years of rehabilitation. His track career was over. This injury taught Tinker a valuable skill set, together with Bowerman, Tinker learned how to problem solve for other athletes through his experience of the consequences of injury. Bowerman protected Tinker’s scholarship by
building him special track spikes that had a heel lift on one side to help Tinker while he was limping.

Tinker Hatfield Pole Vaulting at the University of Oregon.

During his time at college, Tinker Hatfield studied Architecture. His unquestionable gift at drawing attracted Bill Bowerman to ask him to draw some of his designs of Nike track spikes. Tinker would test Bill’s track spikes out as well draw and interpret his designs. All the while, Hatfield was learning how to design shoes.

1981
Four years after graduation, Hatfield was floundering at a corporate ar-chitecture job. Then Bill Bowerman called, Nike, the company in which Bowerman had helped build needed some help designing mar-keting materials. Bowerman brought Hatfield in to work on an internal marketing manual. A year later, the position had bloomed into a full-time role. Hatfield worked on showrooms, offices and retail-space concepts.