Scholar-athlete John Bishop tackles a Thouron.
By Noel Hynd
ANYONE HERE WANT to read a good, upbeat story involving the Penn football program?
John Bishop, one of the co-captains of this past year’s team, is such a modest, unassuming, and just plain likable young man that this column will probably embarrass him. But since he made the mistake of speaking with me, he’s fair game.
John graduated in December. While here, he was a leader on the field and in the classroom. His quiet, tenacious commitment to excellence in both activities has been well-recognized. No previous honors, however, match the ones John picked up just as he was leaving.
First, he bagged the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for study at a university or professional school of his choice. Then in February, Bishop was awarded one of Penn’s prestigious Thouron Fellowships. The award covers two years of tuition for whatever university in England at which the recipient chooses to enroll. John’s current plans are to start at Oxford in the fall.
After attending the University of Notre Dame for his freshman year, John, a native of Berryville, Arkansas, became interested in playing football in the East. Despite the fact that he had the highest GPA on the Notre Dame squad, and had achieved a boyhood dream by going there, he wasn’t getting playing time. The idea of playing Ivy League football appealed to him. So he came East, and his impressive options soon came down to Harvard, Yale, and Penn. “The chance to go to Wharton and the quality of the coaching staff at Penn made the difference,” Bishop explained recently.
A free safety who wore number 22, Bishop was Penn’s leading tackler for the last two years. This past season, he led the Quakers again with 111. His top statistical game was a monster performance against Lehigh, in which he collected 21 tackles (20 unassisted). Emotionally, his best game was against Princeton, when he blocked a potentially game-winning field goal by the Tigers and recovered the ball to set up Penn’s winning drive.
Bishop credits athletics with helping him achieve academic success at Penn. “Being involved in athletics has really helped me manage my time and keep a certain discipline. In athletics, I set goals and worked toward them. It carried over into academics. Athletics gave me a lot of the confidence that I didn’t have when I first started college.”
Eventually, Bishop hopes to have a career in finance. That will have to wait until after this new opportunity has been seized. John plans to study philosophy, politics, and eco- nomics in England. “I’ve never been abroad, and I’m really excited about the program of study [at Oxford],” he says.
Opposing Ivy quarterbacks are probably really excited about having John out of the country next year. The rest of us will miss his presence and work ethic here.
Noel Hynd, C’70, writes regularly on sports for the Gazette.