Graduation day always stirs up fond memories of the past four years for me, as I watch our student-athletes go through Commencement and walk across the stage on Hearn Plaza to receive their diplomas. It also serves as a poignant reminder of our primary mission here in the Deacon Club – providing scholarship funds for our student-athletes.
Seeing our 71 student-athletes this year receive their degrees was truly gratifying. Some are household names, like C.J. Harris, while others may be less familiar. Each of our student-athletes, however, is prepared to meet the challenges they will soon face in the real world. Undoubtedly, their athletic experience at Wake Forest enhanced their development of discipline, teamwork and the ability to overcome adversity. They all had a coach or coaches that served as an additional teacher, helping shape their experience and positively influence their lives.
Recently, I have also had the privilege of attending all the Spring Coaches Tour stops in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh. These events provide a great experience for Wake Forest alums and fans to gather and discuss the vision of our programs with our Athletic Director, football and basketball coaches. A special guest, Alphonso Smith, has joined us for several of these events. Alphonso is a 2008 alum, ACC champion, All-American and reigning ACC interception leader.
The story that Alphonso tells about Wake Forest saving his life is very impactful. He recounts an interaction with Coach Dean Hood, where Coach Hood told Alphonso that he does not judge his success as a coach by the wins and losses or how well the defense played, but that he ultimately judges his success by the kind of husband, father, neighbor and friend that his players, including Alphonso, become 10 years after graduation.
As Alphonso says, it was that moment that changed and saved his life. Before that conversation with Coach Hood, Alphonso had not been excelling off the field; it provided the spark to propel him to be a better person. Alphonso is now a devoted husband and proud father. If you live in Lewisville he is undoubtedly a great neighbor as well. While Alphonso’s professional playing career has come to an end, there is no doubt that he will be successful in any career he chooses to enter.
Stories like Alphonso’s happen every year in the athletic department. Our coaches are changing and saving the lives of countless student-athletes. The Deacon Club Athletic Scholarship Fund provides the resources needed for these student-athletes to pursue their dream of competing at the highest level while earning a degree from one of the top institutions in the country.
We certainly appreciate your support in the Deacon Club and hope you will consider renewing, joining the 110% club or even upgrading your membership. We realize you have choices with your philanthropy and appreciate the priority you place on supporting our student-athletes at Wake Forest. Our mission of Developing Champions would not be possible without your support.
Take care and GO DEACS!!