Darlington School: Annual lectureship to feature Olympic gold medalist
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Annual lectureship to feature Olympic gold medalist

March 17, 2017 | 202 views

Olympic gold medalist Dave Wottle will be the 14th speaker in the annual Class of 1953 Lectureship Series on March 23.


“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to connect with someone who has an exciting career in the sports world,” said Vicki Vincent, director of alumni relations. “So much of what you learn by playing sports is transferable beyond the realm of athletics, and we appreciate Dave taking the time to share his insights with our young people here at Darlington.”


Wottle earned a gold medal in the 800-meter run in the 1972 Olympic Games. This performance was especially memorable as he tied the world record with a time of 1 minute, 44.3 seconds, marking one of the closest finishes in Olympic history. That year, he also competed in the 1500 meters.

As a result of his performance in Munich, Wottle was awarded the prestigious U.S. Olympic Spirit Award, given to the athlete who demonstrates the special spirit of Olympism, courage and achievement at the Olympic Games. The following year, he became the third fastest miler of all time by running a 3 minute, 53.3 second mile. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1982.

Wottle and his roommate in Munich, Frank Shorter, are two of the last three American men to win Olympic gold medals in a distance event.

Born in Canton, Ohio, Wottle earned his B.S. in Education at Bowling Green State University, where he was track and cross country captain, president of the Varsity Athletic Club, inducted into the national leadership honorary Omicron Delta Kappa, was an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar, and, in 1973, was runner-up to Bill Walton for the James E. Sullivan Award. During his track and cross country career at Bowling Green, he won seven national titles and earned All-American honors eight times. After college, he ran professional track for two years before to retiring from running in 1976.

In 1975, Wottle began his career in higher education. He would spend the next 27 years working in admissions and financial aid at institutions like Walsh College (now Walsh University), Bethany College and Rhodes College. Wottle retired from Rhodes as special assistant to the president in 2012.

In his role as an admissions officer, Wottle served on the review committee for the Toyota Scholarship Program, the Scholarship & Recognition Program of the College Board, the Governing Board of the edScholar Scholarship Program, and in various leadership positions in the Southern and National Association of College Admission Counseling. He also served as chairperson of the 19-college Southern Consortium, on the Board of Directors of the Common Application (twice), and on the review committee for the Coca-Cola Scholars program. In 1994, he was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Rhodes, the Rhodes Student Government Award in 2001, and the SACAC William Starling Award for Mentorship in 2011.

Following his retirement, Wottle served as the interim vice president for enrollment management at Millsaps College for seven months and as the interim vice president for enrollment at Ohio Wesleyan University for eight months.

He and his wife, the former Janice Pressler, have been married for 44 years and currently live in Germantown, Tenn. They have three children and seven grandchildren. 

The Class of 1953 Lectureship Series was established in 2003 to commemorate the class’s 50th reunion.