Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Last week against the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Manny Lawson made two big plays, one a sack and one a forced fumble. Given Lawson’s professional career, which stretches back to 2006, those types of plays have become routine for the veteran playmaker.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed is his enthusiasm for such plays.
“I enjoy them more so now that I’m invested in the league,” Lawson says when asked if his big plays evoke the same joy as they did when he was in high school in Goldsboro, N.C., or when he made a name for himself at NC State from 2002-2005. “It shows me I still can do it, that I’ve still got it. Veterans know it’s not going to last forever.”
Now in his seventh year in the NFL, Lawson is one of the more seasoned former Wolfpackers in the league. He was a first-round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006 and left the Bay area as a free agent in 2011 to play in Cincinnati. He says that a key to a player like himself carving out a long NFL career is adaptability. And Lawson has had to adapt his entire career, playing defensive end for the Wolfpack but being drafted to play a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. And with the Bengals, he’s had to adapt again, moving into a 4-3 scheme that he says is more cerebral.
“You have to read,” Lawson says. “You have to look for your keys. You have to read the fullback. Playing this type of linebacker is done more mentally and with more studying.”
Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
Talk to Lawson for any given amount of time and his emphasis on studying becomes apparent. He talks of how education was stressed to him early on in his family. He came to NC State to be an architect but instead studied industrial engineering. And he discusses how his future pursuits after pro football will take him back to studying.
“I actually plan on coming back to school and see if I have the passion for architecture,” Lawson says. “I like that I could create something, put something on paper. And that someone may like it.”
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The Norm Sloan era was over. The Jim Valvano era was about to begin.
NC State hired Valvano, the coach at Iona, as its head basketball coach in 1980 after Sloan resigned to take the head coaching position at the University of Florida.
Valvano brought a different style to NC State, both on and off the court. It all began on this day in 1980, when Valvano coached his first game for the Wolfpack.
The game was against UNC-Wilmington. NC State was led in scoring by sophomore Dereck Whittenburg (24 points) and in assists by sophomore Sidney Lowe (8). NC State easily won the game, 83-59.
The team went on to finish the year 14-13, but Wolfpack fans were encouraged by what they had seen. This is what the 1981 Agromeck had to say about Valvano:
“He is the man who upon his arrival in March of 1980, danced the usual illusions of grandeur in front of State followers’ eyes.
“He is the man, who with his rich Italian brogue and witty one-liners spoke his mind with the media during post-game interviews.
“He is the man who transfused life back into a basketball program that under Stormin’ Norman was turning as stale as a six-week old loaf of bread.
“He is the man who said he didn’t mind his players drinking beer and having a good time as long as they didn’t disgrace the name N.C. State and who professed that basketball was just a game.
“He is the man that took the bridles off the horses and let them run.
“He is the man that at the end of his first ACC season said: ‘I think the quote where the philosopher said ‘Expectations are greater than realization’ never coached in the ACC.’
“He is James T. Valvano — alias coach Valvano or quite simply Coach V — and he was Wolfpack basketball in 1980-81.”
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Michael D. Anthony is director of the Cultural Center at the University of Louisville, where he has worked for nine years and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees. But visitors to his office quickly learn that Anthony is a Wolfpacker at heart.
Michael D. Anthony, in his office at the University of Louisville
His University of Louisville business cards are held by a Mr. Wuf statue, while photos of the Bell Tower, Witherspoon Student Center, the Court of North Carolina and other NC State landmarks hang on his office wall in a montage arranged by his wife. That’s because Anthony, a 2003 graduate of NC State, has never forgotten his roots.
“NCSU is and always will be where my heart lies!” Anthony wrote in an email.
So Anthony was thrilled when he learned this week that Louisville will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, saying that Louisville is a strong replacement for the University of Maryland. And Anthony was not alone. Several NC State alums who live in Louisville are excited that it will soon be easier to follow their beloved Wolfpack teams, on television and in person.
“I am ecstatic about Louisville joining the ACC,” wrote Timothy Anderson, 1997 NC State grad who is an IT consultant with Ashland Inc. “In an ideal world, I would love to see the Wolfpack and Louisville in the same divisions so that I can see my Wolfpack teams in person more often. I don’t have any allegiance to U of L but I might consider season tickets to U of L now that ACC teams will be visiting.”
Katheryn Markham, vice president of information systems planning and field services for Kindred Healthcare, has lived in Louisville since 1998. But she says the news that Louisville is joining the ACC made her feel like she was “coming home.”
Markham, a 1980 NC State grad, says she roots for the Louisville basketball team but only when they are not playing NC State. “Still rooting for NCSU every time they play,” she wrote. “Even when they play Louisville…but love both teams.”
Katheryn Markham at an NC State football game in 2010
She noted that both teams share a fondness for the color red and have rivals, Kentucky in Louisville’s case, that favor the color blue. “Did you notice that Louisville fans wear the same strong color – RED?,” she wrote. “It was very comfortable for me to join the Cards fans.”
Margie Bower, a 1990 NC State grad who is a human relations/payroll specialist for a heating and air company in Louisville, says she will not be divided in her loyalties. “I am really looking forward to U of L joining the ACC,” she wrote. “The ability to see more games on TV will be great. Also, Louisville’s athletic facilities are great and I think the teams there will enjoy playing here.”
“Just be assured I will always have my Wolfpack gear on when they play, be it here or there.”
Anthony says Louisville’s fans are passionate, but that his colleagues at the university respect his commitment to NC State.
“They understand how it is,” he wrote. “NCSU is a first love, like Louisville is to many folks here, so they get it. Plus they respect loyalty and commitment.”
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Lou Holtz has a memorable line about his time coaching William & Mary from 1969-71. “We had too many Marys and not enough Williams,” Holtz often says.
And it was on this day in 1971 when Holtz left all those Williams and Marys behind, along with his job in Williamsburg, Va., to become the head football coach at NC State. He led the Wolfpack to a 8-3-1 record during his first season in 1972, culminating in a 49-13 throttling of West Virginia in that December’s Peach Bowl.
Bryan Wall was a linebacker on that ’72 team and wrote his estimation of Holtz’s first season in the 1973 Agromeck. “We’re probably as well coached as anyone in the nation,” wrote Wall. “The big difference this year would have to be attitude. Ninety percent of our winning is due to attitude.
“The greatest thing Coach Holtz has done is convince us that we can play on an even par with anyone, yet he still cusses and throws his clipboard.”
Holtz, who now works as a college football analyst for ESPN, coached at NC State from 1972-75, compiling a record of 33-12-3 before leaving Raleigh to take a job in the NFL with the New York Jets.
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For Steve Garrett ’85, teaching classes such as drafting, electronics and applied physics at Topsail High School in Hampstead, N.C., has been a part of his everyday routine for the past 26 years. However, when asked about his true passion, Garrett will tell you his love comes in the form of an electric vehicle.
Twelve years ago, Garrett formed Topsail High School’s Electric Vehicle Program, and approximately 125 students have been through the program since then. Each year, about ten students enroll in Garrett’s class and meet for an hour each day before school to work on the vehicle and prepare for the Electric Vehicle Challenge at the N.C. Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) facility in Garysburg, N.C.
Having the program available to high school students is an expensive endeavor that requires the help of community partners. For every car that is converted into an electric vehicle, an average of $12,000 is needed.
Garrett’s students work to collect all of the funds needed through fundraising, raffles and sponsorships from local businesses. A total of five vehicles have been purchased or donated to the program. This year, students received a 1991 Toyota MR2 and a 2001 Ford Ranger Edge to use in competition.
On a typical morning, students have a briefing with Garrett to establish goals. Then, the work begins. Teams within the group work independently to achieve the goals of converting the vehicle and spend much of their time maintaining or repairing current conversions. Once students begin working on the vehicle, the goal is to remove the internal combustion engine and replace it with electric power.
“During the year, the goal is to provide students with the opportunity to work as a team and become successful in competitions,” Garrett said in an interview conducted by email. “I want to teach them to convert gas-powered vehicles to electric power while learning teamwork and engineering practices that are needed to complete a conversion.”
While in Roanoke Rapids for the Electric Vehicle Challenge, Garrett’s students compete in seven different categories, including Oratorical, Troubleshooting, Vehicle Design, Range, Community Involvement and Electric Vehicle Jeopardy.
On October 22, the Topsail High School team was recognized as the most organized and most motivated group and came home with 10 trophies in a variety of categories. Topsail High School has received 162 trophies since they began competing in 1999.
“The competition is an amazing, comprehensive competition,” Garrett says. “My students always strive to win, but at the same time, help other schools. When necessary if other schools do not have enough team members to fill an event, we will offer students to fill them in so they can compete.”
Seeing his students succeed has been the most rewarding part of his experience in the electric vehicle program. Upon completing the program, Garrett has seen many of his students continue on to universities, enroll in community colleges and continue their work on electric vehicles in the industry. Twenty-five have gone on to become a part of the Wolfpack family and two have received Park scholarships.
“Without a solid foundation, you have nothing to build upon,” Garrett says.
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For Ginny Hager ’08, babysitting is in her blood. Since she was 13 years old, Hager has surrounded herself with children and gained experience in child care through babysitting and teaching swim lessons. Today, Hager’s love for childcare has continued to grow as she has started her own childcare placement service, Simply Sitting, LLC.
During her years at NC State, Hager babysat as a means of income and began networking with families in and around Raleigh. After graduation, Hager became a real estate agent for a local realtor. With less time to put toward babysitting, Hager spent her free time networking for families to help them find babysitters.
As Hager heard about the challenges mothers experienced trying to find good babysitters for their children, a business idea clicked. “I decided that networking babysitters and helping families was something I loved to do,” Hager says.
In December 2011, Simply Sitting was born.
Simply Sitting aims to provide an easy-to-use service by connecting families to the best babysitters in the area. Simply Sitting has a network of over 200 babysitters who work as independent contractors in North Carolina cities and towns such as Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Wilmington, Atlantic Beach/Morehead City, Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem.
“The sitters I use are all personal referrals to me and come with strong recommendations,” Hager says. “I emphasize with every family that each sitter I send is ultimately an extension of myself and I would never send someone out that I do not trust myself.”
Hager is the sole employee at Simply Sitting, but she plans to hire representatives in each city in 2013. In the upcoming years, she plans to expand her business and help more families throughout North Carolina find trustworthy babysitters for their children.
“The biggest reward is hearing the compliments about the sitters I send to families everyday,” Hager says. “I understand the fears parents have leaving their children with babysitters and nannies, so when families grow to trust and love the babysitters I send them I know that my job is well worth it.”
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No one ever said students at NC State weren’t a creative bunch.
That ingenuity was on display on this day in 1934 when a power outage caused the lights to go off in the 1911 Dormitory. But then there was also the little matter of safety, too.
When the lights went out, students decided to build a fire in front of the building to provide some light inside the building, according to an account in Historical State, an online archive maintained by NCSU Libraries.
But the fire brought more than light. It also brought a couple of trucks from the Raleigh Fire Department, which worked to put out the blaze.
While the firefighters worked, students formed cheering sections to encourage their efforts.
No one ever said students at NC State weren’t a spirited bunch.
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Did you know that Santa Clause is a Wolfpacker?
Well, he will be for at least one night at The Streets of Southpoint in Durham, N.C. The mall, located just off Interstate 40, is hosting an NC State Spirit Night from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, that will feature Santa dressed in his best Wolfpack gear. Sounds like a perfect photo opportunity for all the Wolfpups out there.
The Alumni Association will be there as well, so stop by our table for a chance to win prizes and learn more about our alumni network in Durham.
We will also be hosting a toy drive that night for local children through the John Avery Boys & Girls Club of Durham. We appreciate any donation you can make.
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NC State halfback Dick Christy scored 13 touchdowns, two extra points and one field goal during the 1957 campaign, according to the 1958 Agromeck. That’s a total of 83 points in a season for the native of Chester, Pa..
But 29 of those points came on this day in the last game of the 1957 season, when Christy’s scoring carried the Wolfpack to a 29-26 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks and secured the school its first ACC championship.
Dick Christy. Photo courtesy of NCSU Libraries.
Christy was part of an attack that led State to a 7-1-2 record that year, only falling to William & Mary and tying Miami and Duke. But the final and seventh victory gave head coach Earle Edwards a conference championship after four years of coaching the Wolfpack.
“This game was best summed-up by Bill Workman (Charleston News & Courier),” read an account of the game in the 1958 Agromeck. “‘Dick Christy played the University of South Carolina today. Christy won 29-26.’ Our hats off to you, Dick — All Conference, All American, and the South’s number one back.”
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Tom Higgins spent the majority of his career as either a professional football player or coach in the Canadian Football League. He even spent some time in the front office as a general manager. But he never worked a CFL game as a referee or official.
So that makes it a bit unusual that for the last five years, Higgins, 58, has served as the CFL’s director of officiating. He says his playing, coaching and front office experience has added a different dynamic to what once was a traditional post.
“Most directors of officiating come from the ranks of officials,” he says. “[The CFL] deviated and wanted someone from football. I bring a different perspective to the referees and a different perspective to the coaches.”
Higgins, who played nose guard for NC State from 1972-1975, is now in his 30th year of being associated with the CFL. He played for the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 1970s and 1980s. He spent the 1990s and 2000s in various general manager and coaching positions in the league, even winning the 2003 Grey Cup, the CFL’s version of the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy, as head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos in 2003.
Higgins at NC State in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
One of the common misconceptions, Higgins says, is that officials aren’t held accountable. He oversees 42 on-field officials, and 10 supervisors and evaluators. Every week during the CFL season, which runs from June until November, Higgins watches all the games live (with eight teams in the league, there are never two games on at once). He interacts with the coaches on a daily basis. And he ensures that all the referee crews are graded for every play in a game, which is about 155 on average.
The referees that grade out at the top get to work the prestigious Grey Cup game, which is the CFL’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. That game takes place this Sunday, Nov. 26, and is a national event.
“It brings the country together,” Higgins says. “It’s a week of celebration. It’s going to be hosted in Toronto. The city will be very similar to the Vancouver Olympics.”
Higgins, who also wrestled at NC State, says that even though it’s a thankless job, he’s learned one valuable lesson — officials are a lot like players.
“It’s basically a complaint department,” he says. “But what I’ve learned is that we can’t play the game without officials. If you make a mistake as an official, you have to have the same mindset as an athlete. Move on.”
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