In an effort to support elite American throwers in track and field, the USATF Foundation chairman Bob Greifeld of NASDAQ and executive director Tom Jackovic announced the creation of the John W. James Endowment on July 19 after receiving a generous donation from Mark and Lori James & Frias Holding Company. Mark James, John W. James’ son and a USATF Foundation director, and his wife Lori made an initial gift of $200,000 to the USATF Foundation, specifically funding the creation of the John W. James Endowment.
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The USATF Foundation’s John W. James Endowment will be used to fund elite grants for male and female American throwers participating in professional track and field. It will also be used to help promote and highlight the often overlooked throwing events at major track and field competitions.
John W. James previously served as Nevada’s state climatologist and a meteorology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno for many years, with a specific penchant for the Sierra Nevada Range and Lake Tahoe Basin areas. His vast knowledge of the region’s geography and weather enabled him to become the official meteorologist for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trails held in the Sierras at Elks Summit.
In addition to his fascination with weather, John W. James was an athlete. He played tackle at the University of Oregon, was a Golden Gloves boxer and a top shot putter in high school. The shot put, discus, hammer and javelin particularly intrigued James, and he always maintained a dream that these throwing events would gain more mainstream notice.
His son Mark James now serves as the president and CEO of the Frias Holding Company, but track and field also has always held a special place in his heart . He was a top high school sprinter and long jumper and even went on to compete in college. He became an attorney and served as a Nevada State Senator for 10 years and later as a Clark County Commissioner.
“My dad was the biggest track fan I ever knew, but he always wished that his favorite events […] would be featured more at big meets. Although he is gone, this endowment is an effort to make that wish come true,” said Mark.
In 2001 John W. James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he slowly began to lose his ability to go on his daily seven mile runs in Reno and eventually even walk. Mark and Lori James now hope to capture John’s spirit with this endowment and utilize the long reach of the USATF Foundation to lend a hand to America’s top throwers in track and field.
The USATF Foundation provides a means to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes, distance training centers and anti-doping education. Click here for more information.