John “Jack” Green Trice (1902-1923)

Jack Trice
Jack Trice
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Football Lineman John “Jack” Green Trice, an only child, was born on May 12, 1902, in Hiram, Ohio to Green Trice, a Buffalo Solider with the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment. Green Trice was from Hardeman County, Tennessee and Ann W. Wilcoxson Trice, his mother, was from Middleburg, Virginia. Trice’s father died when he was seven, and during his teen years, his mother sent him to live with the Wilcoxson family in Cleveland, where he played football and graduated at 19 from East Technical High School in 1921.

After high school Trice enrolled in Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa where his major was animal husbandry. With his enrollment and his joining, the Iowa State Cyclones team, Trice became the first Black football player at the school which immediately created controversy in the Big Six Conference. The University of Missouri’s Athletic Director, Chester Brewer, for example, warn Iowa State they would forfeit an upcoming game that season if Trice played. He did not but Iowa State won the game, 3 to 0.

On July 22, 1922, during Trice’s sophomore year he briefly left Ames Iowa to marry Cora Mae Starland. He was 20, and Starland, who was born in Denver, Colorado, was 19. They were married in Monroe, Michigan but after returning to Ames, the couple were required to live off campus and encountered difficulty finding suitable housing. To earn a decent living while a student, Trice worked as a custodian.

When traveling with the football team, Trice was not allowed to stay with his teammates. During Iowa State’s second game of the 1923 season with the University of Minnesota, he stayed in the Curtis Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

Trice was also subject to unusual and unnecessary roughness against opposing teams. During the game with Minnesota, Trice sustained a broken collarbone. Later in the game he was intentionally trampled by three University of Minnesota players.

After returning to Ames, John “Jack” Green Trice died on October 8, 1923, at the age of 21. The cause of death was hemorrhaged lungs and internal bleeding sustained from his participation in the Iowa State-Minnesota football game. Afterward, his widow moved to Youngstown, Ohio, and remarried Homer Lee Greene in 1927.

In honor of Trice, Iowa State University boycotted the University of Minnesota for 66 years, refusing to play that football team on the gridiron until 1989. In 1997, in Trice’s honor, the Cyclone Stadium was officially renamed the Jack Trice Stadium. It is the only Division I football stadium named after an African American. Also, a bronze statue was erected in his honor in 1988 between two campus dormitories, Beardshear Hall and Carver Hall. In 2019, Iowa State University moved the statute to the center of its campus.

Jack Trice Stadium
Jack Trice Stadium