Words once spoken by the late humanitarian and college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who led North Carolina State University to a national championship in 1983 and created The V Foundation for Cancer Research a decade later.
Long-time Lumberton resident Dr. Steven Bourquin, a Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, can attest to Valvano’s timeless sentiment.
Dr. Bourquin, an Ohio native, lost his father, Joseph Bourquin, to cancer four years ago. Now, more than ever, Dr. Bourquin wishes his father was still around to see what that instilled belief helped yield.
On Friday, Dr. Bourquin, a former all-state defensive back who also played wide receiver and occasionally filled in at quarterback, will be back on his old stomping grounds of Ohio where he will be inducted into the Louisville High School Hall of Fame.
It will be a moment Dr. Bourquin knows his father would have liked to witness. In fact, it was Dr. Bourquin’s father Joseph who was involved in nominating the two-way starter for the Louisville Leopards.
“My feelings are really that I wish he was here to see it. That’s what hit me first when I found out (I was being inducted),” Dr. Bourquin said Wednesday afternoon prior to making the 600-mile drive north to his hometown. “I’m trying to keep it together right now but I know it will be hard when I’m there.”
On the gridiron for Louisville, Dr. Bourquin earned a bevy of accolades, including a second team All-Ohio selection by the Associated Press. In his two varsity seasons, he registered eight interceptions, 56 solo tackles and 28 assisted tackles as a defensive back. In 1981, Dr. Bourquin’s junior year, Louisville finished 9-1 with its only loss coming to state champion Canton McKinley.
Following high school graduation in 1983, he attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania on a football scholarship before transferring to Ohio University after two seasons.
“It’s a humbling experience. It will be bittersweet,” Dr. Bourquin said of the forthcoming ceremony. “It will be pretty emotional there Friday … It’s great, but at the same time I wish my dad was there.”
Dr. Bourquin accredited his father and mother Sue for inspiring him — believing in him — to become who he is today, which, along with the title of a soon-to-be hall of fame inductee of Louisville High, includes the designation as a lauded college professor for 21 years. This statistic is what he’s perhaps most proud of.
Dr. Bourquin, who is currently in his 10th year at UNCP, has been granted the Most Valuable Professor Award — voted on by the student athletes – by UNCP the last three years. Additionally, Dr. Bourquin was one of nine individuals responsible for starting Division II football at the university.