The Start of Jim Thorpe’s Athletic Career

In a 1966 interview by reporter Virgil Gaither of The Lawton Constitution-Morning Press, Paul LaRoque (pronounced La Rock) shared some stories about his time at the Carlisle Indian School. At the time of the interview, the 72-year-old former star was living in Minneapolis but was in Oklahoma to attend his granddaughter’s wedding. One of his favorite stories was about Jim Thorpe:

 “I’ll never forget the first day we noticed him on the campus. It was in the spring and we were working out for track. Several athletes had been high jumping and the bar was at an even five feet. No one had cleared that height and we were taking a breather when Thorpe strolled by.

 “He was picking up paper around the field as part of his job to pay his way through school. Jim looked at the cross-bar, backed off about three steps and sailed over the bar without much effort.

 “Warner was standing several yards away talking with one of the athletes and didn’t see Thorpe’s jump. We all saw it, but kept quiet because we didn’t want him to take our place on the squad.

 “However, the trainer saw Jim’s leap and raced over to tell Pop. The coach went over and measured the bar, then hollered at Thorpe, who had already walked over to the other side of the field.

 “He asked Jim if he could jump that high again and Thorpe walked over and cleared the bar again with plenty of room to spare.

 “Pop told Thorpe to forget about picking up paper and report for track the next day. That’s the way he started his athletic career at Carlisle.”

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3 Responses to “The Start of Jim Thorpe’s Athletic Career”

  1. Sue Lawrence Says:

    This is my Grandpa-Paul LaRoque. I have been proud to be Native American all my life because of what he endured and the respect he earned at such a horrific time in history of American Indians.

  2. david LaRoque Says:

    this is my great grandpa:)

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