UNCP honors Jim Thorpe at scholarship banquet


 Jim Thorpe day

Jack Thorpe (left) with Dr. Robert Reising

UNC Pembroke paid tribute to Native American athlete Jim Thorpe with a banquet and scholarship fundraiser March 28.

Thorpe was an accomplished athlete in baseball, track, and football and named the greatest athlete in the world by King Gustav of Sweden. In 1912, he became the only Olympian ever to win both the pentathlon and decathlon.

Thorpe was stripped of his medals by the International Olympic Committee after it was learned that he had played semi-pro baseball in North Carolina. The medals were reinstated after his death, which was exactly 50 years ago on March 28.

"I would like to commend the state of North Carolina for making today Jim Thorpe Honor day," said UNCP English professor and Thorpe scholar, Dr. Robert Reising said. "Thorpe's unsurpassed sports achievements have been a source of inspiration to young people."

UNCP Chancellor Allan C. Meadors was on hand to honor the legend.

"It is wonderful to come together and honor a person who transcends time," Chancellor Meadors said. "We are proud to have a scholarship in his name on our campus."

The banquet and silent auction, which was organized by Dr. Reising, raised over $5,000 for a Jim Thorpe Endowed Scholarship at UNCP for a student interested in American Indian Studies.

Guest of honor at the banquet and silent auction was Jack Thorpe, Jim's son. He recalled the natural determination his dad possessed.

"I can remember dad trying to teaching me how to run, and I kept saying 'I can't,' and my dad snatched me up and said, 'There is no such thing as can't and I never want to hear you use that word again,'" Thorpe said.

Being the son of Jim Thorpe has made Jack who he is today.

"I don't think I've ever been able to accomplish anything without my father and the examples he set," Thorpe said.

Thorpe is from the Sac and Fox Indian tribe and gave his support to the Lumbee tribe and other Native Americans to continue progressing.

"We as Indian people can now control our own destiny through education and making our own governments," Thorpe said. "The key is leadership, being able to put your people's needs ahead of your personal needs."

The Thorpe Scholarship endowment is nearing $20,000 after the dinner and The Robesonian newspaper of Lumberton hosted a benefit golf tournament in early March.

Sheri Sides is a junior Mass Communications major.