Michael Nepinak

When Michael Nepinak decided to establish a record in Ivy League track and field competition, he meant it to last. A quarter century ago, this member of the Pine Creek First Nation – who spent his first 21 years as a ward of the Children’s Aid Society – became a star athlete while attending the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school. As a junior in 1977, Mr. Nepinak set an outdoor meet record in the triple jump with a leap of 16.02 metres. He repeated the feat during indoor competition a year later with a leap of 15.85 metres. Both still stand in the Heptagonal and Ivy League Conference. “Every year since Michael’s graduation, there appears to be an all-out assault on his records,” fellow sportsman Alwyn Morris once wrote. “The closest they have come so far is within one foot of his record.” He was named to All-American status and was voted the Outstanding Performer of the 1978 Heptagonal Indoor meet, the equivalent of being Player of the Year in other sports. Considered one of Canada’s greatest triple jumpers, he was named to Canada’s 1980 Summer Olympic Team. Before that, he established a Canadian national record during the 1978 Commonwealth Games that stood for eight years. He has represented Canada and all Aboriginal people at numerous competitions overseas and was invited to tryout for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. Not only did Mr. Nepinak overcome obstacles to excel at the highest levels of the sporting world, he’s been an outstanding success off the field during a stellar career in both the public and private sector. He is a role model of the highest order.