Jack Trice, the first black athlete at Iowa State University, only wanted to honor his race and his family. His story ended in tragedy.
Jack Trice was the son of a slave. He was born in Ohio in 1902. In high school, he excelled in track and football. After high school, he followed several of his teammates to Iowa State College (now Iowa State University).
At Iowa State, he majored in Animal Husbandry with the idea to travel to the South and improve the lives of poor farmers.
As he traveled with his team, he was forced to stay in different hotel rooms from his teammates because of segregation laws.
Alone in his hotel room the night before his first real college game, Trice wrote: “My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family & self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow.”
And he was definitely thrown recklessly. Trice’s collar bone was broken on the second play of the game. He returned to the game. In the third quarter, he was trampled by three University of Minnesota players. He was sent to a Minneapolis hospital where the doctors deemed him fit for travel. The next day, he died of hemorrhaged lungs and internal bleeding.
In 1987, the Iowa State Student Government raised money to build a statue for Jack Trice. In 1997, Cyclone Stadium was renamed Jack Trice Stadium. Jack Trice is the only black person with a Division 1 stadium named after him.
Why he should be remembered: Jack Trice didn’t allow the bitter racism of the early 20th century to prevent him from going to college. He was forced to stay in hotel rooms separated from his teammates, but he was willing to use his body as a shining example of everything black people are capable of.
Read more about Jack Trice.
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Photo— Flickr/ SD Dirk