Summer’s a dead season for many sports fans. The NBA season will have wrapped up shortly. Major League Baseball’s 162-game schedule seems more tedious to some than pure sports spectacle. And golf is really no more than an on-again-off-again holdover on Sundays until the NFL returns in the fall.
But for alumnus Sears Bugg, summer’s the time of year where he turns up the training that has netted him the honor of being one of North Carolina’s best badminton players.
Bugg won a gold medal at the 2013 North Carolina Senior Games last September and is currently the state’s top male player in the age bracket of 55-59. And although he’ll miss the chance to defend his title at this year’s games in September due to a registration mix-up, he’s already training for his return to competition in 2015.
“I try to play twice a week,” he says. “Badminton’s fast and keeps you in shape. We play a power game. My brother and I love to slam. It won’t hurt the other person. If you hit it hard, it’ll stay on the court.”
Sears Bugg, after a silver medal win at the N.C. Senior games in 2009.
A graduate with an agriculture economics degree in 1976, Bugg split time between classrooms and fierce hardcourts of Wolfpack club sports. He was the president of the NC State badminton club his senior year and led his dorm to a badminton championship.He took his talents to Duke, where he earned an M.B.A in 1981 and he reached the apex of Blue Devil badminton stardom until he was supplanted by a surprise player. “I was the number-one player on the team,” he says. “Out of the blue, we had a tournament to see who was the best player on campus. And this soccer player ran me all over the court. I’ve never seen him before or since.”
And he adds that his brother, Smitty, who graduated from NC State in 1977, also took to the sport on campus, even helping to teach it to physical education classes for enjoyment with an ulterior motive. “This was the mid-1970s,” Bugg says. “There was not really many women on campus. My brother wanted to meet someone, so he started teaching badminton. He met his future wife there.”
Badminton was just one sport loved by Bugg, who operated his family’s trucking business for 25 years before retiring and becoming a fee-only financial planner. There was golf, swimming and tennis. The Warrenton, N.C., native says it was his mother who first instilled that love of competition in her sons when they were kids. “My mother was athletic. So she was good about teaching us to play different sports,” Bugg says. “She believed in lifetime sports. And NC State was real good about teaching those same sports in physical education classes in those days.”
Bugg turns 60 next year and will have to enter a new age bracket when he returns to the Senior Games. But he feels he can once again be number-one.
That is if his playing partner stays healthy and Bugg can stay focused on badminton. “Have you heard of pickle ball?” he asks excitedly. “It’s a fast growing racquet sport. You take a badminton court and lower the net to about tennis level. And they use a wiffle ball and oversized ping-pong paddles. If my partner’s legs give out, I’ll be making the switch to pickle ball.”
The new students are about to show up at NC State, and the university is ready to make sure they feel welcome.
Wolfpack Welcome Week kicks off on Friday with a grand opening extravaganza for the new Harrelson Hall location of the NC State Bookstores, an intra-squad scrimmage by the women’s soccer team and a showing of the movie, Inception.
The festivities continue on Saturday, when students and fans can meet their favorite Wolfpack football players at Carter-Finley Stadium. Students are also invited to join the Panhellenic Association for an ice cream social and catch an outdoor screening of Toy Story 3. (A poignant choice, at least for the parents sending their children off to college.)
The Alumni Association will host its annual Legacy Luncheon on Saturday for incoming freshmen whose parents or grandparents are NC State alumni. Sorry, but registration has already closed for that popular event. (Check back here next week for more coverage of that fun and emotional gathering.)
On Sunday, new students will get a chance to take part in a campus scavenger hunt and a recreation festival. And, let’s not forget that students (with the help of their parents) will be moving into their dorm rooms throughout the weekend.
Tired yet? Well, there is still plenty more to come throughout next week — including, of course, the first day of classes on Wednesday.
For more details on the schedule and events for Wolfpack Welcome Week, check out the website.
(Photo courtesy of Brian Webb)
Players’ Retreat has been a familiar watering hole in Raleigh for NC State alumni for years. Many, many years.
The venerable bar is turning 60 years old this year, according to a recent account in The News & Observer. Chances are you’ve heard of the bar, located close to campus near the corner of Oberlin Road and Hillsborough Street, or been one of its patrons through the years.
Players’ Retreat (affectionately known as the “PR”) was on the verge of closing when alumnus Richard “Gus” Gusler ’72, ’80 MPA bought it in 2005. He has made a few menu changes since then but stayed true to the bar’s character.
Read more on the bar’s history and 60th year celebration in the N&O story. And share with us your favorite story from the PR.
(Photo courtesy of Zipcar)
Students, faculty and staff at NC State have another way to get around campus (or just about anywhere else they want to go): The Zipcar.
Zipcar is the world’s largest car-sharing network, and NC State is one of more than 225 colleges and universities partnering with the program.
You can join Zipcar for $35 a year, with membership entitling you to rent Prius hybrids and Scion XB crossovers for $8 an hour.
There are four Zipcars at NC State, located in the Dan Allen carriageway near the Cates/Dan Allen intersection and Bragaw Hall and on Dunn Avenue near the Coliseum parking deck.
If you sign up before March 1, you’ll receive free driving credits to use during your first month of service. The code for the promotion discount is backtoschool2011.
The Bulletin also reported this week on the Zipcar service and other ride-sharing options available on campus.