News - GU Hall of Famer John Curry Inspires Panthers, Calls Them to a Champion’s Mindset

GU Hall of Famer John Curry Inspires Panthers, Calls Them to a Champion’s Mindset

By Carla Morris

Greenville University alumnus John Curry ’80, a member of GU’s Athletic Hall of Fame, returned to his alma mater on January 24 to inspire student athletes assembled for a special chapel in H.J. Long Gymnasium.

With a commanding presence and booming voice, Curry delivered a message of hope for any competitor fighting against challenges and distractions. 

John-Curry-04.jpgWinning the battle for good character and integrity is key, he told students, along with disciplined training, right choices, and identity in Christ.

“Christians are conquerors,” he reminded students. “Christians are warriors; Christians are those that take over; Christians are those that stand up; Christians are those that move with authority.” 

A GU Panther at Heart

Curry's life of character and service reflects the heart of GU’s mission. Following collegiate success on the track in sprints, hurdles, and relays, he went on to serve for 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections as a correctional officer and later as a warden. He retired in 2007.

An ordained pastor, Curry and his wife Sheila founded Conqueror’s Christian Center in Belleville, Illinois, where they currently serve as pastor and co-pastor. In addition to his leadership at the center, he has been instrumental in community action. Rev. Jesse Jackson once named Curry an outstanding leader in Illinois.  

Felt at Home

Curry assured students that greatness can emerge from a campus like GU’s. As aJohn-Curry-07 student, he rebuffed suggestions that he take his talent and exemplary work ethic to a Division I institution.

He wanted to prove he could beat athletes from big schools despite the perks of their larger programs. Hard work, dedicated training and his growing relationship with God fueled his confidence. 

“I felt at home in Greenville,” he said. 

Location Does Not Determine Greatness

Curry set school records at GU and earned conference and district accolades. He drew national attention, securing an invitation to the 1980 U.S. Olympic team trials for the 400-meter hurdles. The U.S. ultimately boycotted that Olympics, however.

Location does not determine greatness, Curry told students, but rather “who you are” determines greatness: “Decide to be great, and decide to be a champion.”

Curry majored in speech communication at GU. He holds a master of arts in counseling and an honorary doctorate from Central Christian University in Arkansas. He and his wife have a son, a daughter, and five grandchildren. 


Former Panther John Curry with current cross country and track & field Panthers


From left to right, GU Panther Rakim Murphy (100, 200, 4x100, and long jump), Dr. Curry, GU Panther Alex Fink (400, 200, 4x400)


Current GU athletes huddle with GU Hall of Famer John Curry. “Christians are conquerors,” he reminded them earlier.

Learn More

Long Jump, Long Shot
Running on Gratitude: Double Thanks for Cross-Country, Grace, and Coach P
Blend of Leadership and Service Score On and Off the Court
Offense, Defense, Character, Class

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This story was published on January 29, 2020

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