AMES, Iowa – Iowa State Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock has a list of topics he preaches to his defenders as they prepare to take the field on Saturdays.
It starts with every defender knowing their assignments and working as a cohesive unit. His final words come from a letter. They are the thoughts of Jack Trice, Iowa State’s first Black student-athlete, who jotted down on hotel letterhead the significance of playing in his first real college football game in 1923.
Jack Trice lost his life due to injuries he sustained in that game, but his legacy, and letter, will forever be a part of the history of Iowa State University.
From a statue on central campus to the stadium bearing his name, Jack Trice is a key figure in the proud tradition of Cyclone football.
Anthony Johnson Jr., a senior from St. Petersburg, Fla., who has earned All-Big 12 honors twice, listens intently when Heacock reads Trice’s letter. It’s an emotional moment, especially when he says the words, “I Will.”
Johnson Jr. often reflects about Trice’s courage.
“I can’t imagine all the obstacles Jack Trice had to overcome,” Johnson Jr. said. “His letter inspires all of us every day. He was so courageous, and it’s important to remember who and what he stood for.”
Johnson Jr. is a veteran cornerback who embodies Trice’s competitive spirit. That’s why it’s only fitting he’s this first recipient of the Jack Trice Endowed Scholarship, which will now be given annually thanks to the generous donation from Kent and Kristen Lucken of Newton, Mass.
The Luckens pledged a gift spanning five years to establish the scholarship.
Their motivation for the gift includes the following:
- A desire to help the program and the department financially during a difficult time
- A desire to highlight the Jack Trice story, a very important element in the history of Iowa State University
- A desire to help the program and the university with social justice issues that are important at this time
The scholarship is awarded to a Black student-athlete on the football team who is entering his senior year. The recipient, selected by head football coach Matt Campbell, is a student-athlete who portrays courage, character, selflessness, leadership, dedication to the community, and academic/athletic achievement, all traits of Trice and Johnson Jr.
“With the establishment of this scholarship, we honor the enduring legacy of Jack Trice and the timeless values he embodied in Iowa State football,” Kent and Kristen Lucken said. “We join Coach Campbell in congratulating Anthony and his family as the inaugural recipient of the Jack Trice Endowed Football Scholarship and recognize all Anthony has done on and off the field to honorably represent his team and Iowa State University.”
Johnson Jr. is humbled to have his name mentioned with Trice.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Johnson Jr. said. “I feel this is one of the highlights of my career just to have my name associated with him. I will continue to honor his legacy.”
The senior also wanted to express his gratitude to the Luckens for their kind gesture.
“I appreciate this gift from the Luckens,” Johnson Jr. said. “Their kind donation will help me achieve my goals.”
Johnson Jr. and the rest of the Cyclones pay tribute to Trice each game by adorning “Trice Stripes” on their jerseys. The stripes are similar to the jersey Trice wore in 1923.
The Trice story will now mean even more to Johnson Jr.
“Jack Trice paved the way for so many African-American athletes – before and after me – to have an opportunity to compete for this university and many around the world,” Johnson Jr. added. “Earning this scholarship will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”