Track and field connects runners for decades with gratitude to the Shirley family
Bill Shirley first became acquainted with Greenhill through the second Head of School Phil Foote. Bill and Phil were fraternity brothers at University of Texas in the mid-1960s. Phil Foote started as Head of Greenhill in 1976 and a little over a decade later, he approached his friend Bill who had run track as a freshman (originally at Texas A&M before transferring to UT Austin) and had loved running throughout his life. “Help us build a track,” he asked. Bill accepted the proposal.
Bill Shirley was inspired by his friend Phil. “I knew how much he cared about Greenhill students and striving for excellence in education. He always promoted a love of learning in everything he did. Pairing that with my love of running, I wanted to help, and this felt like the right way to do that.”
This was the early 1990s. At the time, the Shirleys never dreamed that they would have a Greenhill student of their own. Their daughter, Sofia, was born in 1997 and enrolled in Greenhill’s prekindergarten in 2001. One day, Sofia’s class was at the track and being a new reader, she read her father’s name on the sign. “That’s my dad's name!” she exclaimed, having no idea about the initial gift that built the facility.
Sofia Shirley '15 has now graduated from Vanderbilt University and is currently in New York gaining medical experience while applying to medical school. While at Greenhill, she ran cross country and continues to love running today, like her father. Together, they will run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Manhattan this fall.
Cross Country Coach Jason Yaffe and Chief Advancement Officer Susan Holmes reached out to the Shirley family last year in light of needed track renovations. Once again, the Shirleys committed to helping enhance the track and field with a generous gift of $100,000.
The Shirley Family Track, which has served decades of student athletes, will now continue to serve runners for decades to come.
Greenhill School is incredibly grateful for this gift.