Hey Wake Forest Fans – This Is The Team To Watch

I know. We made it to a bowl game and won. And I am excited about what we may do next year.

And we made it to the dance for the first time in years. If Collins comes back, the Deacs may have a chance to make a lot more noise next year.

But you need to start paying attention to the Diamond Deacs.

Last night, our boys of spring went to second-ranked Louisville and handed them their first home loss of the year.

Last weekend, they won a series in Coral Gables against the University of Miami for the first time ever.

They are ranked in every major college poll in the nation.

They lead the nation in home runs.

They have beaten four ranked teams.

They beat last year’s national champions on the road.

It’s been a while since we have been to a bowl game, gone to the dance, and hosted a regional.

That, and I really like this retro-looking jersey they are wearing this year.

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Go Deacs!

Raleigh, Pass House Bill 13 Because All The World’s A Stage

globe theatre

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Henry V, Prologue.

North Carolina House Bill 13, which would grant local school districts flexibility to combat class size limits imposed by last year’s short-sighted budget, is currently stalled in Raleigh.

It is like the scripts are in revision and the players are ready to rehearse. But production has been halted.

It seems there are too many directors behind the scenes too busy worrying about how much money they will net rather than what will actually need to transpire on that stage.

The thought that local school districts are being kept in limbo (and in what some might call a hostage situation) concerning programs like the arts is more than disconcerting. To stay aligned with state law, school districts will have to lower class sizes and for elementary schools that could mean a variety of things. One scenario is to do away with specialties like arts and physical education. Or, sadly, it could be that they lay off some of the players in the acting troupe.

From the Winston-Salem Journal this past Friday in an article entitled “Schools could cut assistants to hire more teachers, meet class size requirements,”

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district has started contingency planning in case the N.C. General Assembly doesn’t pass a bill that would give schools relief from impending class size reductions.

The district will keep any teacher assistants hired from now until the end of the school year on temporary employee rolls in an effort to avoid layoffs over the summer. If the state mandate on smaller class sizes kicks in, district leaders say they might be forced to cut some teacher assistant positions for next school year in order to keep offering art, music and physical education classes (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/schools-could-cut-assistants-to-hire-more-teachers-meet-class/article_9440fea2-c230-5128-8cff-270cefb7d83b.html) .

“We currently have legislation … that, when passed, overlooked the fact that regular teacher allotments do not separate out art, music, PE,” said Superintendent Beverly Emory. “Our board agreed and we’ve said from the get-go that we’re not laying off teachers; we’re not doing away with those programs.”

Cutting some teacher assistants next school year is one strategy the district is considering, Emory said, to deal with the class size reduction that would require the district to hire “as many as 200 additional teaching positions… with no additional funding.”

Either way, the production of what happens on the stage of school will be altered by a set of directors (lawmakers) whose parsimonious eyes on the bottom lines seem to contradict the bragging about what a great state (wait for the pun) our state’s economy is in with surpluses and all.

On March 31st, I was fortunate to see a production at Wake Forest University of Macbeth, the infamous Scottish Shakespearean play of greed and ambition. I never pass on a chance to visit my alma mater and did so with two erudite friends who value the intrinsic worth of art like it is the currency of life.

Go see it if you have a chance. It’s at the Tedford theatre, named after a Wake legend whose daughter happens to be a legend herself.

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http://events.wfu.edu/event/macbeth_1588#.WN-gCvnyu00

And it was fabulous. Students less than half my age grappling with a cautionary tale to remind us that what resides in us as humans has so much power over not just us as individuals but society as a whole (oftentimes in a negative fashion).

Macbeth is driven by ambition and greed, and however you want to interpret the role of the witches and the supernatural, you cannot mistake the parallels between Shakespeare and the modern world or even modern North Carolina. It teaches us what happens when those who are corrupted by power become “poor players.”

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. Macbeth, V, v.

Oddly enough, the audience for a Shakespearean play when it would have originally been produced would have spanned all socio-economic backgrounds. The peddler, the merchant, the midwife, the prostitute, the clergyman, the nobleman, and sometimes members of royalty would have all been housed together to see what transpired on a stage to soak in social commentary and be a part of the fiber of being.

That’s what the art produced on the stage allowed for. Do we have anything that does that with American society today which can speak across social barriers besides money?

Yes. Art.

We all are affected by it especially the lack of it. One of Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquies is from the comedy As You Like It metaphorically explaines that. Spoken by Jaques, it begins,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts… As You Like It, II, vii.

During last night’s production, I thought of all of the focus that the past McCrory administration and current NC General Assembly placed upon STEM education, steering funds and emphasis away from a well-rounded curriculum that celebrated multiple intelligences. Yes, we need to pay attention to an ever-changing global economy that demands a more highly technically skilled workforce. Yes, we need to build bigger, better, more elaborate, more multi-functional stages.

But what productions will be shown on those stages?

Wake Forest University is beginning to introduce more engineering and more bio-medical programs on its campuses. But the Deacons have not forgotten their liberal arts. Even the city where Wake resides, Winston-Salem, has the reputation as the “City of Arts and Innovation.”

To force school systems to take away arts programs would be like settling for a well-built stage and having no shows performed on it – a nice empty venue without substance, without memories, without meaning. It would be foolish. It would be tragic.

When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. King Lear, IV, vi.

The very stage that originally housed the first production of Macbeth is gone. But the art of the play still lives and grows and takes new meaning and even provides clarity to new times.

It you want to see a thriving high school, more often than not it has a highly involved drama and music programs that serve as outlets for students with creative intelligences. They not only build sets; they produce art on stage.

What we remember from those performances was not necessarily how well the stage was built. We remember what was done on them. Whether that stage was in an auditorium, on a canvas, on a football field or basketball court, or electronically created, the production is what makes the stage come alive. Not vice versa.

Lawmakers in Raleigh should strongly pursue passing HB13. Then they should start fully funding schools.

If not, many will walk around as the melancholic Antonio, the Merchant of Venice.

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one. Merchant of Venice, I, i.

Good thing Antonio has a happy ending thanks to a cross-dressing woman.

“WAKEYLEAKS” and Being a Demon Deacon Fan

To be a Wake Forest Demon Deacon sports fan is to have a love affair with what seems like frequent disappointment occasionally sprinkled with periods of wild success. But to love the Deacs is to accept that there will be times when our school as one of the smallest to field a team in some FBS sports will not be a perennial powerhouse in every sport, especially football.

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However, while I accept that Wake will not win an abundance of national football championships, I do expect them to compete in the most honorable ways with student athletes who do the work in the classroom as well as on the practice and athletic fields.

When an athlete comes to Wake Forest for any sport, there is an expectation that he/she can academically shoulder the burden of being a serious student on a campus where no one can really be anonymous.

Wake rarely gets that top recruit in football, so when a coach builds a team in Winston-Salem, it must be a deliberate undertaking like no other. Depth becomes a problem in some areas and the need to have that air-tight game plan becomes crucial to even becoming a bowl-eligible team.

And then this debacle happens – “Wakeyleaks.”

To be in the news because of this is less than flattering to say the least (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc.) and if the accusations that have been laid out against Tom Elrod are true, then his career in any capacity with athletics is over.

It’s hard to conceive that Wake Forest would elect to break news of the results of its internal investigation that implicate Elrod without knowing for damn sure that it had hard evidence supporting its claims. And while that evidence seems to have not been presented to the general public to quell any doubts, there has been no word from Elrod who deos deserve his time to respond.

Wake claims that they have evidence of “leaks” since 2014, the year Clawson took the reins of the program and decided not to keep Elrod on his staff. If that was a motivation for Elrod to possibly do what he did, then it is weak as he should know that the world of college football usually involves the turnover of entire staffs when new coaches come in. Plus, Elrod worked for Jim Grobe, who was almost loyal to a fault to his assistant coaches.

Bobby Petrino’s denial that Louisville did not receive any information of Wake’s game plan before this year’s game seems to be partly refuted by reports today. Furthermore, Petrino’s word does come with a high amount of sodium. Remember Arkansas and the mistress on the motorcycle? Or how about how he left the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of the year without even telling his players? Just ask any die-hard Falcons fan.

But I really feel for the players on the Wake team, especially those who have played the last three years in Clawson’s system. If what is claimed really happened, then these young men deserve the real explanation. They were let down by the adults whether one here at Wake or coaches and teams who took information that jeorpardized the team’s ability to compete.

Consider every close game that Wake has had in the last three years that was lost in the fourth quarter because the other team seemed to have an invisible advantage.

How many times has our quarterback been hit because the defense may have been privy to a play call that forced him to not be able to pass?

How many times did our defense have to stay on the field because the offense could not sustain a drive?

And how does this erode the confidence that the young men on the team have in the very people who are supposed to be not only supporting them, but who speak for them?

For me as a Wake fan, I have to hold onto certain memories to sustain me through lean years. Winning the ACC in football in 2006 may have to last me a lifetime, but I know Wake did it the right way. Players graduated with degrees and felt loyalty to the school. Integrity mattered on everyone’s part – players and coaches and those who support their efforts.

“Wakeyleaks” may take a while to get over, yet, I think it is obvious that the real victims here are the players who just took exams at a competitive academic institution to play football for a school that really has to work to have a winning record.

I hope their welfare is the most important priority of the coaches and athletic department.

And to tell you the truth, I am rarely disappointed in them as long as they play hard and compete.

Go Deacs!

“Mother So Dear” – For You Middle-Aged Wake Forest Demon Deacons

I am fortunate enough to actually live literally two miles from the campus of Wake Forest University, where I was fortunate enough to attend school. Regularly, I do back to campus. In fact, I actually seek excuses to go back to campus.

I am proud of the efforts that the university has made to become more diverse and to make more of a presence in the community. The motto “Pro Humanitate” seems to have taken a deeper hold in the school culture. The university’s outreach into the Winston-Salem community has been more deliberate.

However, walking on campus there are some glaring changes that come along with growing and adapting to a 21st Century global society. Yet, there are still some things that I remember from my time at Wake that may truly be unique to my fellow middle-aged, but young in spirit Demon Deacons.

  1. The smell of tobacco in the air from RJR at the end of a day of class.
  2. The Snack Pit.
  3. The law school was on Manchester Plaza before it was Manchester Plaza.
  4. All home ACC-basketball games were in Greensboro.
  5. You walked up steps to get into the library.
  6. The computer labs (Vegas) only had Macs.
  7. When Rodney Rogers and Randolph Childress walked onto campus.
  8. The “Grapple in the Chapel” presidential debate of ’88.
  9. There were no sororities – just societies.
  10. Doctor’s notes to have an air-conditioner in your window.
  11. Dr. Smiley walking on campus.
  12. Dr. Wilson’s classes full on Friday afternoons.
  13. Project Pumpkin started.
  14. There was a road through Davis field.
  15. Trays from the Pit used as sleds when it snowed.
  16. Concerts in Wait Chapel.
  17. Pizza Hut came to campus.
  18. Movies were shown on DeTamble.
  19. Ed Christman knew your name.
  20. Dorm rooms got actual phone jacks.
  21. The ACC had only teams that were actually on the Atlantic Coast.
  22. No one knew the Alma Mater except “Dear Old Wake Forest” and “Mother So Dear.”
  23. No last names on football jerseys.
  24. Singing performances during Greek Week.
  25. Beginning of the year scrambling for Freshman chapbooks.
  26. Human Sexuality (Psychology class) surveys released.
  27. Magic Mouthwash.

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