Jeremy Burleson. Photograph by Lauren Carroll.
Like a number of alumni NC State sends into the sport of NASCAR, Jeremy Burleson came to college thinking he wanted to be an engineer. But he soon discovered that a career in electrical engineering didn’t allow him to apply his skill set as a people person as much as he’d like.
So he made a turn and got a business degree, a move that paved a different path for him to take into motor sports.
Burleson now works at Richard Childress Racing, one of NASCAR’s longstanding teams, as managing director of partnership marketing and communications. (RCR is, in fact, full of Wolfpack alumni — Scott Frye as its chief financial officer, Mike Brown as its vice president of licensing, and Luke Lambert as crew chief for driver Jeff Burton.)
And though Burleson does not work on making Burton’s car go faster, the sponsorships he deals with are critical to making the car go. “We can’t do our jobs from the business communications side of things without competition doing well on the rae track,” he says, “and competition can’t do what they do without having the monetary support. It’s really a bit of a revolving cycle.”
RCR has more than 40 sponsors, whose money makes it possible for the race cars to be designed, built, transported and raced for 38 races during a NASCAR season. Burleson is responsible for how the sponsors, like Caterpillar and Cherrios, are presented at the race and on the car.
And he’s always looking for new sponsors, which has become more challenging in the current economy. “These days, more often than not, it’s how do we get more for less,” Burleson says. “Rarely do you have a primary sponsor that is going to pick up an entire race season.”
But it’s a challenge that Burleson welcomes because it enables him to use his personality to keep those sponsors happy on race weekends. The key is to expose the people who represent the sponsors to something they’ll never experience in a sport like football, where a fan can’t stand in the huddle and listen to a team talk before it runs a play.
“The access in our sport is second to none,” he says. “[In NASCAR] you’re literally taking a picture with a driver before he gets into the car. You’re literally down with the crew. You’re within arm’s reach of the crew chief. You’re wearing a headset. You’re listening them to call the plays.”
In the summer issue, NC State magazine profiles the jobs of Wolfpack alumni finding success in NASCAR, the professional stock car circuit, as engineers. Be sure to check out how they use the latest technology to find faster speed for their drivers on Sunday.
Photo courtesy of Abe Harman.
The NC State men’s rugby club team took on UNC’s club team a couple of weeks ago in what was supposed to be another close affair in what’s been a fairly even rivalry.
But the contest ended up being something so much more. First off, the Wolfpackers beat the Tar Heels in historic fashion, downing them, 100-0. “It’s usually not like that,” says Abe Harman, NC State’s club president. “All credit to Carolina. They usually have a competitive side.”
And on top of hitting the century mark and securing a shutout, the club team saw in that game the culmination of its efforts to grow the last couple of years. Three years ago, the club team was competing against smaller club teams, like Duke and East Carolina, on the Division II level. But they finished eighth in the nation in 2010 and qualified to movie up to Division I. The Carolina game was validation that they now belong.
“We’ve been building as a club the last couple of years,” Harmon says. “We’re starting to get really competitive at the Division I level now.”
Photo courtesy of Kyle O'Donnell.
NC State’s club rugby team has been building for a while, in fact. Dating back to 1965, they are one of the oldest teams in NC State’s club sports program, which is housed under University Recreation and welcomes student, faculty and staff from across campus to participate. Having such a rich heritage is very profitable for the current team. “We have a really big group of alumni,” Harman says. “We have a great index. They help us out as far as funding travel.”
Harman says several of the club’s alumni are still in the area, having gone on to play for the rugby club the Raleigh Vipers. One of those alumni, Jim Latham, serves as NC State’s club team’s head coach. While filling that slot was easy, Harman also says that its recruiting players that sometimes presents its challenges.
Photo courtesy of Kyle O'Donnell.
“We’ll get good athletes [coming] out,” he says. “They’re not rugby guys. They’re football guys and soccer guys. So that first year they play, there’s a lot of them getting the intricacies of the game.”
Currently, the team has its sights set on the Collegiate Rugby Championship that will be held in Philadelphia in June. And it’s the first collegiate rugby championship in the United States to be covered on television. It will air on NBC Sports.
Harman says it’s just another example of how far the club team has come. “We’re at a unique position where a lot of those things are coming to head,” he says.
For more on club sports at NC State, check out the Spring 2013 issue of NC State magazine. We profiled the rich program at the university and featured different club sports teams, some of which are the most successful and the best-kept secrets on campus.
There was a time on NC State’s campus when basketball was an afterthought. In fact, until 1911, there was no thought given to the sport that came to define so much of Wolfpack athletics’ history, according to Bill Beezley, author of The Wolfpack: Intercollegiate Athletics at North Carolina State University.
“Until then, the student newspaper reported, athletics hibernated for the winter between football and baseball seasons,” Beezley writes. “Even with an intercollegiate team, student interest in basketball grew slowly. A&M had no gymnasium on campus. Besides, many students, especially athletes, thought it was a ‘sissy’ game.”
But a sea change started to take place on this day in 1911, when A&M traveled to Wake Forest to play its first intercollegiate basketball game. “The Farmers lost 33-6, but the concensus [sic] was that the A&M squad had played well considering they had no coach and no regular practice gym,” Beezley writes.
The 1910-11 N.C. College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts basketball team.
Five days later, the Farmers welcomed the Wake Forest Baptists to play the first intercollegiate basketball game ever played in Raleigh, according to Beezley. The teams played in Pullen Hall auditorium, whose floor was in slippery shape after hosting a student dance the prior evening.
That night marked the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts’ first win in basketball, with the team edging Wake, 19-18.
Bryan Jones never thought he would be a writer.
“I can’t even spell,” Jones says. “I’m atrocious at grammar.”
But 14 years after graduating NC State with a degree in political science, Jones finds himself creating children’s books with Hootie Bowman, who graduated from NC State with a textiles degree in 1997.
The die-hard Wolfpackers Jones and Bowman are the creators of Collegiate Kids Books, a company based in Hickory, N.C. It started with the idea that avid sports fans can be cultivated at a very early age.
Go … Wolfpack … Go! is just one book in the collection. Currently, there are five books in the collection, but Jones plans on expanding. The books are interactive, with scratch-and-sniff items and textures for children to feel. They are tailored to include the landmarks, mascots and well-known establishments of beloved ACC schools.
There’s even one for UNC-Chapel Hill, which wasn’t easy to write, Jones says, even though his mother and wife both went there.
“I still feel like I need to go wash my hands,” Jones says. “It was a little difficult. But really, I want Carolina kids to grow up to be passionate Carolina fans and hate State. I want them to be just as passionate about beating State as we are about beating Carolina.”
Jones was inspired with the idea for the books when his daughter Lauren was born. He was looking for good books to read her before bed. He read books like the N.C. State-centric Hello, Mr. Wuf, by Aimee Aryal and Pat the Bunny, a touch-and-feel book, and realized he could fuse the State themes of the one with the interactive qualities of the other to create his own concept.
“You want your child to love NC State,” says Jones. “I thought I could combine those ideas.”
So he did. Now, Jones and Bowman’s book collection is steadily growing to expand into other conferences besides the ACC.
“We’re coming out with South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and Clemson maybe as early as March,” says Jones, who adds that the company will eventually produce books about professional teams and even smaller schools. “We’re also going to do the military and Harley-Davidson. We want to do it if there’s a passionate group of people that want to pass that on to a younger generation.”
Now the father of two girls and one boy on the way, Jones hopes to take advantage of his product to get his children invested in the Wolfpack. If they like any other school, he’ll attribute it to a job well done.
“If they like UNC better, maybe I did my job too well with the Tar Heel book,” says Jones. “But, having both of these books kind of negates for one of them to sway (my children) to the other side.”
The winter edition of NC State magazine serves as a tribute to the 125th anniversary of NC State University. In researching the different stories in the magazine, from a tale of an athlete lost to history to the story of the first freshman class in 1889, we found a treasure trove of artifacts, pictures and documents that weave together an important tapestry of the university’s past.
We couldn’t include everything we found in the magazine, so we’ve compiled some of the more interesting finds and information for the blog as a way to look back just a little more. We hope you enjoy what we found.
S.M. Young and Walter Jerome Mathews were two of the longest living members of the Class of 1893. Young ran a hardware store in Raleigh for years, and Mathews was the first student to arrive on campus in 1889, a young man from Buncombe County, N.C., ready to study mechanics. He is remembered every year when the Alumni Association awards the Mathews Medal, the highest non-academic award given to students, in his honor. Below, they both stand with Chancellor John T. Caldwell in 1959.
From left to right: S.M. Young, Walter Jerome Mathews and John T. Caldwell.
Alexander Quarles Holladay was the first president of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts when the first 72 students arrived in 1889. He apparently stayed connected to some of the graduates in the Class of 1893, as we found a letter of recommendation for a job written for Louis T. Yarbrough. In the letter, dated August 16, 1895, Holladay lauds Yarbrough’s mathematical skills and knowledge of machinery.
Below is a photograph from a 1943 NC State College News issue. In it, some of the members of A&M’s first graduating class stand as they gather to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1943. Joining six of the members in the photograph is Exum Taylor, one of the first African-Americans to set foot on the university’s campus. He’s listed in the photo as the first class’ valet when classes and lodging were both held in Main Building (now Holladay Hall).
Front row, from left to right: Mathews, Yarbrough and Young. Back row, from left to right, Taylor, unidentified, C.B. Williams and W.H. Turner.
A 1951 column by H.E.C. "Red Buck" Bryant.
A&M’s first freshman class produced men who pursued a variety of careers in engineering and agriculture. But it also held two future wordsmiths, neither of whom are listed in archives as graduates from A&M, who left their marks on the pages of newspapers around the state. H.E.C. “Red Buck” Bryant was a well-known columnist for the Charlotte Observer in addition to writing about politics in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York and Raleigh. Baxter Clegg Ashcraft was an editor for the Monroe Enquirer for 25 years before dying in 1922. Upon his death, the paper published his last editorial, seen below, which he wrote some time before he died to serve as a reflection on his life.
Ashcraft's last column, re-printed here in the News & Observer in 1922 after his death.
Ashcraft, in his later years.
Jeramy Blackford ’04 was about to receive a call he’d been waiting for since he’d been at NC State studying business at the Poole College of Management in the early 2000s.
Back then, he had felt something had been missing in his life, so he auditioned for several plays and rekindled his love for acting, which he had first felt in high school.
A job at the Alumni Association running student programs followed graduation, but Blackford still felt that longing. So he released an album with his band, Kennebec, in 2007 and hired an agent. He started acting in some shorts and independent films. He left his job to pursue acting full time.
And then on a Monday last November, the phone rang offering him his first high-profile acting job.
The casting directors of ABC’s Nashville wanted Blackford for a part playing guitar in the band for one of show’s main characters. “I actually heard back from them on a Monday at 5:30 p.m.,” he says. “They were telling me I needed to be in Nashville at 6:30 [p.m.] the next day.”
And so Blackford was on his way to Nashville and to pursue his Hollywood dream.
It’s a 540-mile drive from Blackford’s home in Raleigh, and as soon as he hung up the phone, he was in his 2007 Mini Cooper, embarking on his nine-hour trip on I-40 West to Nashville. But it was valuable time considering the homework assignment the directors had given him. “That was one of the scariest things when I found out I got the role,” he says. “They tell me, ‘By the way, you need to learn these three songs. The role was for a lead guitar player, and I’m more of a rhythm guitar player. So for nine hours, I’m trying to learn these mp3s of my guitar parts turned up.”
Blackford made it to the set in Nashville, schooled in his parts. He found the show’s stars, like Hayden Panettiere, to be gracious and welcoming. He got his first taste of Hollywood, as he got a different hair and makeup artist than the rest of the backing band for Panettiere’s character because Blackford had a speaking part. And his scene went off without a hitch.
The episode aired January 16, and Blackford hopes it’s just the start. “Kind of the way that show has worked is that guitar players have jumped around from band to band,” he says. “I’m holding out hope that it will turn into more.”
But he can at least cross one goal off of his list for now. “That was a goal of mine, to land a large profile role, like on an episodic,” he says. “Just to experience it on a bigger stage, just to see how the bigger machine works.”
Nashville is one of the South’s most famous cities, sitting proud atop its rich cultural and music history. Most probably know that it’s the birthplace of country music and a vibrant sports town. But when we caught up with some of our Music City-based NC State alums to serve as guides for those heading to the city for the Music City Bowl matchup between NC State and Vanderbilt, we found out that Nashville is also home to the best restroom in America.
Luanne Price Howard
That’s the honor which Luanne Price Howard ’83 says was given in 2008 to the men’s room at The Oak Bar in the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. Price Howard, a freelance graphic designer, says the Oak Bar is one of the best places in town to get a drink and unwind.
But, she says, any visitor should focus on food. And in Nashville, she says, that means getting used to “meat and three” restaurants, where a patron gets a choice of one meat and three sides. Arnold’s, located on 8th Avenue South, is one of the best in the city, Price Howard says, and the owner, Jack Arnold, is from North Carolina.
When it comes to something more unusual, Price Howard says to stop by Las Paletas, made famous by their gourmet Mexican popsicles. “Keith [Urban] and Nicole [Kidman] are rumored to go there when they want to celebrate,” she says.
Ben Schmidt ’04, a researcher in the chemical and biomolecular engineering department at Vanderbilt University, says there are other great choices for eating downtown, like Rotier’s on Elliston near Centennial Park. He says if you want burgers, check out Gabby’s Burgers and Fries and The Pharmacy Burger Parlor.
But, Schmidt says, it’s music that visitors will end up wanting to devour.
“I think visitors should just spend some time wandering through downtown and experiencing all of the music options,” he says. “There are great live country, rock, and blues bands all within a few blocks, and it’s easy to spend the day passing in and out of places. ”
Schmidt is particularly fond of The Station Inn, a bluegrass venue near downtown around 12th Avenue South and Division Street. “Last time I was there, an 11-year-old violinist performed solo and got a standing ovation from the crowd,” he says.
Brock Slagle with Scotty McCreery.
Brock Slagle ’98, one of the owners of BlueSky Filmworks in Nashville, says visitors should not miss out on Nashville’s old standards, like the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
But he says the best thing about Nashville is the feel of it. “I have been here 13 years and am still discovering new things about the city,” he says. “You can feel the creative juices flowing all the time, and it is obvious by the amazing things that Nashville produces.”
Price Howard, Schmidt and Slagle all plan to be at the Music City Bowl, and all feel good about the chances for a Wolfpack win.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I will be rooting for the Wolfpack!” Schmidt says. “Black and gold [Vanderbilt's colors] reminds me too much of Wake Forest, and I’ve been against them for years. Even though Vandy trounced Tennessee, who we struggled early with in the year, I expect State to put up a strong showing and win by a touchdown.
The former chancellor’s house will be filled to the brim with local artists and musicians this Sunday as more than 2,000 people are expected to gather to see the future home of NC State’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design.
Art Outside the Box is a free event that is open to the public from 12-4 pm and was designed for audiences of all ages. Guests will be able to tour the chancellor’s house, view renderings of the future museum and enjoy demonstrations of art forms such as pottery, painting, jewelry making, origami, calligraphy and digital art. Light refreshments will be provided and a variety of musicians will perform.
The chancellor’s house was constructed in 1928 and has been a sort of hidden landmark in the Raleigh area. The Gregg Museum of Art and Design staff came up with the idea for Art Outside the Box as a way to introduce the public to the new location.
Art Outside the Box will be held at the historic chancellor's house on Sunday from noon to 4pm.
“I got together with some friends from different areas of my life that were interested in NC State and art and we started kicking around a few ideas,” says Anna Ball Hodge, a local artist at Roundabout Art Collective and member of the Art Outside the Box team. “The renderings of the new addition include a box-like structure, so we decided to call the event ‘Art Outside the Box.’
“We wanted to make the event a different art experience than the usual and wanted to include artists who would engage or tempt the public to try different art,” Hodge says.
The Gregg Museum of Art and Design currently is located on the second floor of Talley Student Center and will be there until April. However, various pieces of art have already been moved and are on display at the chancellor’s house. In the coming years, the full museum will be housed at the historic residence as soon as the funds are raised.
Last November, the NC State University Board of Trustees approved the proposal to renovate the chancellor’s house and create an adjoining gallery and educational wing. The total project is a $7.5 million endeavor and nearly $3 million has already been given to NC State and the Gregg Museum of Art and Design through non-state funds. However, approximately $4.5 million still needs to be raised in order to make the 16,700-square foot addition to the chancellor’s residence a reality.
“We wanted to have a party to introduce its new location to the public,” Hodge says. “They wanted it to be free to the public and be a ‘friend raiser.’”
Pearl Fryar, a self-taught topiary artist, is internationally known and will give a demonstration at Art Outside the Box.
The special guest artist at the event is Pearl Fryar, a self-taught topiary artist from South Carolina who has used his own techniques to create a living sculpture garden. Fryar will be demonstrating his art form at 2:30 pm.
“Frayer is the coolest,” Hodge says. “He has such a positive, hopeful, encouraging spirit that goes beyond his creations.”
As guests make their way through the house, Hodge hopes people get a greater idea of what the Gregg Museum is all about.
“The Gregg Museum collection has 26,000 pieces of art and continues to grow,” Hodge says. “We want people to leave the event with a sense of excitement about the Gregg Museum.”
NC State fans were accustomed to being able to just watch Wolfpack football in Riddick Stadium. And in the fall of 1950, that experience had only yielded the viewing of a mediocre performance against Catawba College.
Walt Schacht, top, and Elmer Costa, bottom, played tough on defense to stifle Maryland.
Add to that disappointment of two road losses in Chapel Hill to UNC and in Clemson, S.C., to Clemson University, and there wasn’t a lot to brag about for head coach Beattie Feathers’ squad.
Once again, the Wolfpack was hitting the road to take on the Terrapins for Maryland’s homecoming. But State fans back in Raleigh would be able to see an away game for the first time.
On this day in 1950, NC State’s first televised game went out over the airwaves, transmitting a 16-13 Wolfpack win to fans back home in North Carolina.
The defense was an integral part of NC State’s victory that day, as guard Walt Schacht ’53 called masterful defensive signals all day and tackle Elmer Costa ’52 wouldn’t allow Maryland’s offense to move the ball effectively.
“It was a black day for the Maryland homecoming fans who saw their team bite the dust,” the Agromeck reported in 1951. “The Feathers strategy was a credit to himself, the entire team, and the coaching staff.”
Alumni in Seattle and Portland will be among wolves this Saturday, both figuratively and literally. They will gather to volunteer at Wolf Haven International for National Wolfpack Service Day, an annual event that allows alumni networks to engage in service projects in their communities.
Wolf Haven International is a nonprofit organization located in Tenino, Wash. Its mission is to aid in and promote wolf conservation, and it has served as a sanctuary to protect wolves and their habitats since 1982.
Wolf Haven International rescues displaced, captive-born wolves and is currently the home to 51 wolves, including gray wolves, wolfdogs, coyotes, red wolves and Mexican gray wolves.
Ryan Hester ’02, leader and one of the founders of the Pacific Northwest alumni network, moved to Seattle after graduation and quickly became homesick, with the absence of Wolfpack fans in the area. After finding out there are more than 900 NC State alumni in the Seattle area, he helped form the alumni network in November 2011.
For the last year, members of the Pacific Northwest alumni network have had several social mixers, networking events and game-viewing parties. But Saturday will mark their first service project. More than 20 people are expected to attend as the alumni will work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. pulling weeds, painting and cleaning up the grounds at the sanctuary.
Hester learned about Wolf Haven International while attending an auction on its campus with his wife. Soon after, he began thinking about volunteering at the wolf sanctuary with the alumni network.
In February, a Wolf Haven wolf was featured as the "Photo of the Day" in National Geographic
“I felt that a service day on Wolf Haven’s campus would be a great way to show our Wolfpack pride in the Pacific Northwest,” Hester says. “Volunteering at a wolf sanctuary is so uniquely NC State.”
The Pacific Northwest alumni network’s National Wolfpack Service Day project was selected as the “Most Unique” service day event out of all the national alumni chapters at NC State. As a way to award the network, a local Starbucks will donate hot coffee and the Alumni Association will provide lunch for all volunteers.
Ellen Richardson ’01,’10, the director of outreach with the NC State Alumni Association, will help with the service project and eat lunch with the alumni afterward. A special group photo opportunity is also planned.
Cody, one of the two coyotes living at Wolf Haven International
During his time as an undergraduate, Hester participated in Service Raleigh events and personally organized programs that benefited local organizations and inner-city community programs while he was a resident advisor. Today, Hester believes National Wolfpack Service Day is a benefit for all NC State alumni.
“National Wolfpack Service Day is a valuable opportunity to support our local community while showing our support and love for NC State no matter how far from Raleigh we live,” Hester says.