ELMER H. BALL
Cross Country, Track and Field
A mentor to thousands of students in and outside the classroom, Elmer Ball is regarded as not only the most successful track & field coach in Oxford history, but one of the most successful coaches in the history of Oxford athletics.
Ball began teaching in Oxford in 1954 after graduating from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Drafting and a minor in History. During his 36-year career, he taught not only drafting, but wood working and mathematics. Prior to his time as a Chippewa, Coach Ball attended Reed City High School where he earned five letter awards in the sports of football, basketball and track and field.
As the Wildcats’ head cross country coach from 1963-74 and again from 1995-96, Ball’s teams established a 123-21 dual meet record, claiming four MHSAA regional championships and four league titles. The boys’ team finished as the 1971 state runner-up behind individual state champion Doug O’Berry. Previously, Ball coached Jim Goodfellow to a cross country state title in 1969.
If his cross country accolades weren’t enough, Ball’s name is synonomous with Oxford High School track and field. He was an assistant under legendary coach Lee Noftz from 1964-80 and was promoted to head coach in 1981. He led the Wildcats to a 101-18 record in dual meets, eight league championships, an Oakland County co-championship and the MHSAA Class ‘B’ Boys’ Track title in 1991. When Ball stepped down after the 1992 season, he had coached 11 individual state champions in as many years on the job.
A leader not only in the teaching ranks, Ball was also a leader in his avocation as well, serving as president of the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association (MITCA) in 1975 and earning numerous awards from the organization. Elmer was named Oakland County Coach of the Year in 1988 and 1991 and earned MITCA Coach of the Year honors in 1983 and 1991 as well. Ball was honored with MITCA’s Charles Sweeney Award in 1988 for outstanding service to the sport of track and field, his school, community, and MITCA. Sweeney Award recipients epitomize the definition of "Coach."
Ball continues his service as a coach for the Wildcats cross country program, volunteering since 2002. Elmer and his late wife Jeraldine are the parents of Mike (’74) and Steve (’76) Ball, both Oxford graduates.
CHARTER MEMBER - INDUCTED 2010
"Elmer Ball: A leader on the field and in the classroom" - Oxford Leader (July 21, 2010)
JAMES I. "JIM" BATES
Class of 1964
Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track and Field
After an outstanding career as an athlete at Oxford High School, Jim Bates emerged as one of the most outstanding defensive coaches in American football.
As a prep star, Bates earned ten varsity letter awards in four sports. It was football, however, that Bates excelled at. He was all-county, and all-league in his senior year, earning the linebacker a scholarship to the University of Tennessee (UT). His junior and senior years, the team won both the Gator and Bluebonnet Bowls, respectively. In Bates' junior year, the Volunteers won the Southeastern Conference (SEC) title and finished No. 2 nationally.
Earning a bachelor's degree from UT, Bates began his coaching odyssey at Sevier (TN) County High School (after a year as a graduate assistant at UT). Bates then coached at Southern Mississippi in 1972. In 1973, he led the offensive line for Villanova University before switching to linebacker coach. Bates spent the next two seasons as Kansas State’s linebacker coach before becoming secondary coach at West Virginia University in 1977. He held the same position at Texas Tech University for two seasons and then was promoted to defensive coordinator/secondary from 1980-83.
Bates joined the professional ranks as defensive coordinator for the United States Football League’s San Antonio Gunslingers in 1984 and was named the head coach in 1985. In 1986, Bates was named defensive coordinator for the Arizona Outlaws. After spending the 1987 season out of football, Bates served as an assistant coach for the Detroit Drive (Arena Football League). He returned to the collegiate ranks in 1989 as linebacker coach at UT. Staying in the conference, Bates was named defensive coordinator/secondary coach at the University of Florida in 1990 when the Gators won the SEC title.
Bates began his National Football League coaching career when named linebacker coach for the Cleveland Browns (1991). He coached the Browns’ defensive ends for the 1992 and 1993 seasons before ascending to the defensive coordinator position with the Atlanta Falcons a year later. Bates returned to Cleveland in 1995 as a secondary coach before working with the Dallas Cowboys as linebacker coach (1996-97) and assistant head coach/defensive line (1998-99). Jim moved to Miami where he led the Dolphins’ defense. Under Bates’ tutelage, Miami’s defense finished no lower than 10th in the NFL in total yards allowed and led the league in fewest passing yards allowed in 2001 (176.8). The Dolphins allowed only 162.0 passing yards per game in Bates’ five seasons as DC. During his tenure in Miami (2000-04), Bates’ defenses ranked fifth in yards allowed (294.8). In addition, the defense didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher over the last four games of 2002 and the entire 2003 campaign. As the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2004, Bates guided the Dolphins to a 3-4 record including a 29-28 win over eventual Super Bowl champion New England on Monday Night Football. Bates produced 19 Pro Bowl selections while with the Dolphins.
After accepting to the defensive coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers in 2005, Bates served as assistant head coach/defense with the Denver Broncos in 2007. He moved to the defensive coordinator position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009.
Jim Bates resides in Florida. His son Jeremy is currently the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks while his son James was a linebacker and captain of the 1996 National Champion Florida Gators.
CHARTER MEMBER - INDUCTED 2010
"Jim Bates selected as part of the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame" - Oxford Leader (July 28, 2010)