SOLANA BEACH — After 35 years of coaching and teaching the students of San Dieguito Union High School District, James Mathew Temples, of Solana Beach, died on June 18 following a battle with cancer.
He was 83 years old.
Temples was born on November 10, 1937, in Long Beach, California. Due to his father’s military career, Temples moved to Washington state and later graduated from Lake Stevens High School in 1955.
The following year, Temples, who had ambitions to become a veterinarian, discovered a passion for running and physical education while attending Washington State University.
Temples went on to earn both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from WSU.
After college, Temples got his first teaching job in Milton Freewater, Oregon. Temples and his first wife, Caryl, were married nearly 55 years and they had three daughters, Susan, Julie and Jerri.
Eventually, the family settled in North County San Diego.
In 1967, Temples started coaching track and field at San Dieguito Academy before transferring to the newly established Torrey Pines High School in 1974. He quickly became known to students and fans as “Coach T.”
The running coach could often be found wearing his favorite outfit of a baseball cap and blue jeans.
Off the track, Temples taught math, physical education and typing.
At Torrey Pines, Coach T led the girl’s cross-country team to CIF championships in 1981 and 1994, in addition to claiming six league titles (‘93-97, ‘99). On the boys’ side, the Falcons won the 1994 CIF championship and won three straight league championships from ‘94 to ‘96.
Temples was also an active member of the San Diego running community.
A competitive long-distance runner, Temples finished 12th in the National Amateur Athletic Union Masters 10K in Arlington in 1978.
Temples also led the San Diego Track Club team to win a 1988 National 15K title in Tucson, Arizona, after finishing third in his division. The same club team finished fourth overall in the Master’s National 10K cross-country meet in Louisville in 1990.
After his personal success, Temples gave up future running accolades and time in the spotlight to focus on educating younger generations of student-athletes.
During this time, Temples also began to pursue his other interests. Becoming an avid woodcarver, Temples crafted a series of 14 carvings to mark the Stations of the Cross, which he gifted to his parish, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Encinitas.
Coach T’s impact on the community still exists in the annual San Dieguito Half Marathon. Temples helped design the original course, a 13.1-mile event once stretching from Rancho Santa Fe to Qualcomm Stadium, more than 50 years ago.
Temples is survived by his second wife, Allison Temples, and his daughters, Susan Temples Hotaling and Jerri Ellen Temples.
There will be a celebration of life at 1 p.m. on July 24 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church with a reception to follow at the Encinitas Elks Lodge.
Adam Pascua is an intern covering the city of Encinitas.