WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Deacon Club hosted its seventh annual Scholarship Brunch on Saturday, January 26 in celebration of athletic scholarship donors and the generous support they provide to Wake Forest student-athletes. More than 350 donors, student-athletes and coaches gathered at Bridger Field House for this special event.
Helping portray the impact made through scholarship support at different stages of life, the 2019 Scholarship Brunch was centered around the theme of Today, Tomorrow, Forever. Highlighting the program were three exceptional guests—Megan Anderson (’19), Justin Gray (’06) and Rob Knapp (’68)—who shared how their Wake Forest experiences positively impacted their lives.
Megan Anderson, who represented the Today portion of the program, is a senior member of the Wake Forest field hockey team and recipient of the WF Athletic/Academic Excellence Field Hockey Scholarship Fund provided by Robert and Anne Bowman. The three-year captain has had a tremendous impact on the field hockey program, starting in every game for the Deacons over the past four seasons. Anderson helped propel the Deacs to the Final Four in 2018, leading the ACC and NCAA in assists per game en route to becoming Wake Forest’s all-time assist leader. In addition to her on-field success, Anderson—a health & exercise science major—has been recognized on the Dean’s List seven times and was named to the All-ACC Academic team four times.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Anderson shared how quickly Wake Forest felt like home despite being thousands of miles away from where she grew up, and reflected upon her decision to attend the University. “Something that was really attractive about Wake was the great ability to combine sports and academics together,” she stated. “Through my scholarship, I was able to continue my dream and I didn’t have to make a sacrifice. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the support of my donors.”
Speaking to Tomorrow was former men’s basketball standout, Justin Gray, who was the recipient of the Leslie M. Morris Athletic Endowed Scholarship and the Roy and Grace Nifong Men’s Basketball Endowment. Finishing his career as the eighth-leading scorer in program history with 1,946 career points, the three-time All-ACC selection helped lead the Demon Deacons to three NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2003 ACC regular season title. Upon graduating with a degree in communication, Gray played professionally for 12 seasons overseas. This summer, he returned home to Wake Forest to serve as the Director of Basketball Development.
“You took a kid who had nothing going on for himself; I wanted to be a truck driver,” Gray recalls. “I came to Wake and my eyes opened. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people, broaden my mind, and once I was out of school, I was prepared for anything.”
Now ten-plus years post-graduation, Gray has traveled around the world, but has never lost touch with the Wake Forest family. Eternally grateful for the ability to receive a world-class education and compete as a Demon Deacon, he shared his appreciation with all the donors in the room. “Thank you for everything you have done, not only for me and my teammates, but for all the current student-athletes as well,” he shared. “The selflessness that you have shown, it shines bright.”
Rob Knapp rounded out the main program as the Forever speaker. A former men’s tennis student-athlete, he graduated from Wake Forest in 1968 with a degree in history. Upon graduating, he served more than ten years with the U.S. Navy Reserve as Naval Aviator, achieving the rank of Lt. Commander. Rob then went on to have a 34-year career with Merrill Lynch before creating Supernova Consulting, LLC, where he still serves as president.
Along with his wife, Marcia, Knapp has supported a variety of Deacon Club initiatives—from capital projects to the Annual Fund—throughout the years. One of the couple’s greatest joys, however, has been giving back through scholarship support. Not only do the Knapps have their own athletic and academic scholarships at Wake Forest, they have also initiated the Knapp Family Scholarship Matching Program, helping create the opportunity for ten other families to establish athletic scholarships of their own.
“Most of us live life and it goes so fast, but did we spend our lives with purpose?” he asked. “Giving back is the answer to our life and our life’s purpose. Giving others the opportunity to achieve, grow and become the people they’re capable of being is the greatest gift you can give.”
Bringing the program full circle, Anderson offered her closing remarks to donors, stating, “You don’t just put us through school for four years—you inspire us for life. What we learn throughout our four years will carry us through and we will never forget the lessons we’ve learned and the people we’ve become. That wouldn’t be possible without your effort to us and us being here at Wake Forest.”
In addition to the three speakers, Ann Johnston (MBA ’81) and her late husband Larry (JD ’73) were recognized as the 2018 Deacon Club Members of the Year. The Johnston family has avidly supported the Deacon Club for more than 40 years and has participated in every capital campaign along the way, in addition to supporting the M. Larry and Ann A. Johnston Athletic Scholarship that was established in 2005. Joining Ann to accept the award were her two sons, Bart (’12) and Riley (’12), as well as other family and friends.