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SPRING Baseball, men’s tennis, men’s golf and women’s golf among best in the nation

JUNE 2017


VOL. 26 // ISSUE 8 (USPS 014-373) EDITOR


Donnie Roberts, Brian Westerholt WRITERS

Sam Walker, Stephanie Hudson, Rachael Bari, Lauren Close Design & Layout

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Gold Rush is published eight times a year in August/ September, October, November/ December, January, February, March, April, May/June and July by IMG College in conjunction with Wake Forest Athletics. Periodicals postage paid at Winston-Salem, NC 27102 and at additional mailing offices. The price of an annual subscription is $20. Members of the Deacon Club receive a one-year subscription as part of their membership. Persons wishing to subscribe to Gold Rush should send a check or money order (credit cards not accepted) to: IMG College 540 N. Trade St. Winston-Salem, NC 27101 All material produced in this publication is the property of Wake Forest University and IMG and shall not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes to the attention of Stephanie Hudson, Wake Forest Athletics, 519 Deacon Blvd. Winston-Salem, NC 27105. The appearance of advertising in this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser and/or the advertiser’s product or service by Wake Forest or IMG. The use of the name of the University or any of its identifying marks in advertisements must be approved by WFU and IMG.

ON THE COVER It has been a spring to remember for Wake Forest sports teams with baseball being one of the nation’s top teams and hosting an NCAA Regional, men’s tennis being ranked No. 1 much of the season, and both men’s and women’s golf featuring some of the best players in the nation.


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HISTORIC RUN: The Wake Forest men’s tennis team, which was ranked No. 1 in the country down the stretch in the 2017 season and seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Championship, finished 30-3 with its title run ending in the quarterfinals. It was the deepest run ever for the Deacons, who had made it to the Round of 16 previously. In the individual draws for Wake Forest, Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim (pictured) advanced all the way to the NCAA doubles semifinals before being eliminated. In the NCAA singles, No. 3 seed Petros Chrysochos and freshman Borna Gojo won two matches each before losing in the Round of 16, and Mansouri won three matches before falling in the quarterfinals.

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// 6 BIG BOPPER Gavin Sheets led the nation in RBIs this year as part of a high-powered offense that propelled Wake Forest to a No. 13 ranking in the country and being a Regional host for the NCAA Baseball Championship.

// 12 FOLLOWING A FAMILIAR PATTERN Junior Will Zalatoris is one of the nation’s top golfers and could go pro, but the Deacon standout plans to stay in school and get his degree like former WFU stars Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Kyle Reifers.

// 16 NEW VIEW At one time, Grant Dawson was one of the kids playing on Deacon Hill, but now the redshirt senior has moved through the ranks as a walk-on from local Reagan High School to a starting linebacker position and one of the team captains for the 2017 Wake Forest football team.

// 28 PERFORMANCE NUTRITION BECOMES NEW PRIORITY WFU Athletics, bolstered by the Deacon Club’s Parents’ Athletic Council and the Nutrition Fund, has made a commitment to ensuring that Deacon student-athletes are prepared for success through the best available dietary practices. JUNE 2017



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2017: A standout class in so many ways Dear Demon Deacons,


On May 15th, 82 Demon Deacon student-athletes graduated from Wake Forest. The day before the graduation ceremonies, the Athletic Department hosted a reception for the graduating student-athletes and their families at the Haddock House where we enjoyed celebrating their achievement with them. The 82 graduates achieved much athletically, academically and in serving our community

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over the last four years, so I’d like to share some of the highlights from their time at Wake Forest: • T hey competed in 1,143 contests…and won 622 of those contests.

• A total of 3,300 children were impacted through Santa’s Helper.

• Won three ACC Championships: field hockey (2014), men’s tennis (2016) and men’s soccer (2016).

• S ixteen were named Academic All-ACC: Parker Dunshee, Nate Mondou and John McCarren (baseball); Milan Quinn (women’s basketball); Ellie Abrahamson (women’s cross country); Jessy Silfer and Sarah Thornhill (field hockey); Ryan Janvion (football); Sierra Sims (women’s golf); Ian Harkes, and Jacori Hayes (men’s soccer); Sarah Teegarden (women’s soccer); Kimmy Guerin and Luisa Fernandez (women’s tennis); Charlie Ionata (men’s track); and Casidy Callahan Howard (women’s track).

• F ive were named AllAmericans: Ian Harkes, Jacori Hayes and Alec Farrell (men’s soccer)); Ben Breazeale and Will Craig (baseball). • T welve were named first team All-ACC: Casidy Callahan Howard, Ellie Abrahamson and Amy Collins (women’s track); Sierra Sims (women’s golf); Jacori Hayes, Ian Harkes, and Alec Farrell (men’s soccer); Charlie Ionata (men’s track); Marquel Lee (football); Nate Mondou, Will Craig and Ben Breazeale (baseball). • T hirty-six states were visited for competitions in addition to Mexico, Canada, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. • A total of 100 percent participated in a community service project in their senior year; 97 percent volunteered for a community service project in their junior year; and 96 percent participated in their sophomore year.

• T wo student-athletes – Ryan Janvion and Ian Harkes – were named National Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

• A total of 72 percent were named to the Dean’s List. • A total of 62 percent graduated with a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA. Thank you, Class of 2017, for representing us so well! There are many more successes in your future and we look forward to following your careers.

Go Deacs!

Ron Wellman

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JUNE 2017




// G AV I N S H E E T S




By Sam Walker


erhaps the critical factor in the baseball success for Gavin Sheets was that nobody got in his way.

Baseball was his choice. His father, Larry Sheets, spent eight seasons in the big leagues, including six with the Baltimore Orioles where in 1987 he was named Most Valuable Oriole. But Larry Sheets never assumed his son would pursue baseball, although while growing up, Gavin played and was around the game a lot. The elder Sheets seemed to err on the side of caution and not get overly involved in his son’s athletic pursuits. In fact, he even suggested Gavin might want to focus on golf, a sport in which he was clearly excelling in his early teens. “Golf was something my dad and I played in the spring and summer,” Sheets said. “It’s funny because golf was definitely my best sport going through my early years up to about age 13. I think I got down to about a 4 or 5 handicap. But I always loved baseball more, always loved to hit, and I just knew baseball was what I wanted to do. So when I was 13, my dad said to me, ‘you don’t have to play baseball because I played baseball.’ He told me, ‘if golf is what you want to do, don’t continue to play baseball just to make me happy.’ That was tough, but I knew baseball was what I wanted to do. “There was a lot of frustration because I was really struggling at the time in baseball, playing an age above my own, and I was getting ready to go into my freshman year (of high school). I think it was just his way of letting me know that whatever my decision was, it shouldn’t be because of him. That was something I appreciated

because he never put pressure on me to play baseball. I think that’s why I have such a love for the game. It was never forced on me.” By the time Gavin had finished high school, he wasn’t struggling any longer. He was drafted in the 37th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves. But both Gavin and his father knew it was not the right time to pursue a professional career and that college, specifically the ACC and a school in North Carolina with a baseball program on the rise, was what he had in mind. A look at Wake Forest, the investment the school was making into the program and facilities, and the chance to perhaps immediately contribute created a vision for success as a Demon Deacon. “I knew going into the draft that unless it was very large sum of money I was going to college, and it’s almost impossible to turn down an opportunity to play in a program like Wake Forest’s and get your degree from here,” he said.




// G AV I N S H E E T S

GAVIN SHEETS bio Ultimately it was Gavin’s choice to keep swinging a bat instead of a club, and his relentless pursuit of baseball excellence has paid off in spades with an incredible junior season. He is a first team All-ACC selection, and one of a program-record nine All-ACC honorees this year. At the end of the regular season he led the country with 77 RBIs and was joined by teammate Johnny Aiello in the top 20 nationally in home runs with 19 before adding No. 20 in the ACC Tournament. “He’s had an amazing career, but it’s just been a constant improvement for him,” said Deacon head coach Tom Walter. “Even



CLASS: Junior HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-5, 235 MAJOR: Psychology HOMETOWN: Baltimore, Md. (Gilman High School) FAVORITE FOOD: BBQ ribs FAVORITE BOOK: To Kill A Mockingbird FAVORITE ATHLETE: Ken Griffey Jr. FAVORITE WAKE FOREST MOMENT: Advancing to the NCAA Regional 2016

before the first day of camp, he came in as a primary outfielder, and he shows up on the first day of fall, and I asked him if he had played any first base because we needed a first baseman. He said, ‘My dad and I looked at the roster and figured my best chance to get in the lineup was at first base, so we worked out all summer at first base.’ That just really impressed me that a kid that age had the foresight to ask how do I get myself into the lineup and help this team win. So that transition from outfield to first was a big one for him. But that work ethic and desire every day since then has worked for him.” Sheets said that playing for Walter was the biggest factor in choosing Wake Forest. “When you break down schools like UNC and Wake, there aren’t that many differences,” Sheets said. “At the time UNC, was the better baseball school, but Wake had the academics. But when I met Coach Walter, I felt comfortable in trusting him and knowing what he said was going to be and with the way he runs things.”

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This season, Feb. 24 was when Sheets said he really felt he had made the turn and hit his stride. On that day, he drove in nine runs in a 15-5 victory over Southern California. From that game forward, Sheets’ season has been part of a potent Wake Forest offense. He hit back-to-back homers against Notre Dame, was twice named the ACC Player of the Week and was named Collegiate Baseball Player of the Week Feb. 27. His play helped propel the team to a 39-18 overall record (19-11 ACC), a national ranking of No. 13, and the third seed in the ACC Tournament. Walter likes to tell a story about Halloween night (2015) when WFU was playing Louisville at night in football. “You go to parties, get dressed up, and have fun,” Walter said. “So after the football game, I was going back to the baseball stadium picking up my car to go home, the lights were on, and there were three guys out there hitting. It was Stuart Fairchild (first team AllACC), Gavin Sheets (first team All-ACC), and Johnny Aiello (second team All-ACC). It couldn’t have been but like 25 degrees outside, we’re still three months away from opening day, and these guys are out there working on their craft. That’s why all those guys are allconference players this year and are going to be high draft picks – Gavin and Stuart this year, and John the next year.” Walter noted how Sheets has improved defensively and matured as a hitter in his time as a Deacon. “When he first got here, he didn’t hit the ball the other way a lot and his strike zone wasn’t great, but now he’s a complete hitter, willing to walk, knows what pitches he can handle and the last part of that is he is a leader,” Walter said. “We made him a captain this year so not only does he do it on the field but also off the field with the way he



communicates with teammates and how they look up to him.” Sheets credited the chance to play behind Will Craig last year and watching how he handled the pressures and leadership responsibilities with how he prepared for this season. “That’s an ACC Player of the Year and a huge piece to lose, but it wasn’t just his play, but how he handled things in the locker room and being the clubhouse guy,” Sheets said. “I got to watch and learn from him. I just picked his brain. I had a game plan to watch him to see how he handled things.” And it has turned out to be a dream season for the talented first baseman. “The thing I’m most proud of was leading the country in RBIs because it wasn’t just me that got that,” Sheets said. “I had 19 home runs this year (going into the ACC Tournament), and if I just had 19 home runs with nobody on base, that’s just 19 RBIs. But with 77, the one through three hitters are getting on base. I don’t get there if Jonathan Pryor doesn’t hit .360, Jake Mueller doesn’t hit .360 and Stu (Fairchild) doesn’t hit .350. I did my job getting those guys in, but that doesn’t happen if those guys don’t have incredible seasons themselves. “When I was recruited there was a vision. There was a vision that that building (Player Development Center) was going to be built, a vision we would be hosting a Regional, and the senior class really got it all started. And to be here this year with a good chance to host a Regional, and to be ranked, it’s been an awesome experience. When I was in high school, that is what I thought was going to happen. To see it come to fruition has been awesome.” Sheets was ranked 57th in Baseball America’s early May MLB Draft Rankings. It’s likely Sheets will not be back for a senior season, and Walter doesn’t expect him to be, but the Deacon coach said he has embodied what a Wake Forest student-athlete should be – a classy human being, a student who can handle the academic rigors and a player devoted to fine-tuning his craft. “Since day one, I’ve wanted to be a professional baseball player,” Sheets said. “Right now the goal is to win a national championship, but at the end of the day, I’d like to say I played professional baseball. It’s been the dream since elementary school. At the end of the day, I’d like to say I achieved my dream.” For more on Wake Forest hosting a Regional in the 2017 NCAA Baseball Championship, see Stan Cotten’s column, page 20.

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By John Dell


e might be in the ‘I want it now’ generation, but Will Zalatoris, the All-America junior at Wake Forest, prefers to be old school. It would be easy to see Zalatoris, one of the top college golfers in the country, already on the PGA Tour. Some of his competitors and friends from his junior golf days in the Dallas area are already knee-deep in the life of a PGA player. The 2017 ACC Player of the Year is OK with that. “I think about it (being on the PGA Tour) every day, but it doesn’t consume me,” said Zalatoris, who has a 3.0 grade point average as a psychology major. Zalatoris, with his golf hat fitting snugly on his head in-between classes, looked awfully comfortable at the lower quad on the WFU campus last month. It was “Arnold Palmer Day,” and the school was toasting the late legend, who is perhaps the most recognizable former Wake Forest student. The toast came on the day of the first round of the Masters, a tournament Palmer won four times. It’s easy to see that one day Zalatoris could be teeing off at the Masters as a professional. But not this day. “It was great to stop and see a lot of my friends and teammates and to see Coach (Jerry) Haas give a toast to Mr. Palmer,” said Zalatoris, who attends Wake Forest on the Arnold Palmer scholarship. “I wouldn’t have missed it.” Shortly after the toast, Zalatoris was asked if he might leave Wake Forest early and turn pro. He didn’t hesitate with his answer. “I’ve worked too hard in the classroom, and I’m finishing this thing out with a degree,” he said.

Zalatoris completed his junior season as a Deacon by finishing at 1-under par and just missing the cut for the final round in the NCAA Championships, competing as an individual after Wake Forest narrowly missed out on qualifying for the event as a team, placing sixth in regional play (only the top five teams advanced). It should be noted that Zalatoris is following a path set by other Wake Forest stars who stayed in school to earn their degrees before making millions on the PGA Tour. Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Kyle Reifers, who are established players on the PGA Tour, all played four seasons, earned their degrees and matured while at college under Jerry Haas’ tutelage before hitting a golf ball for a living. When Zalatoris was a freshman in 2015, he was paired with Bill Haas at the Northern Trust Open Collegiate Showcase at Riviera Country Club (Pacific Palisades, Calif.). He said that experience was a great one because he had the chance to pick the brain of Haas, who set the Wake Forest record for most victories in a career with 10. Haas could have probably turned pro earlier than his graduation in 2004 but didn’t do it. “Bill talked about the three kind of lives you live in college from being an athlete to social life to school work,” Zalatoris said. “And Bill said he managed all three of those pretty well, and that’s what I’ve tried to do, although I wish my grade point average was a little higher.” Zalatoris is getting the most out of his college experience, while keeping his goal within reach of playing on the PGA Tour. “I’ve got hopefully 30 years in front of me of playing golf for a living so I’ve thought about that a lot,” he said about the lure of turning pro early. “I realize this isn’t like basketball or football where your window is limited, so I have no regrets, and I’m already looking ahead to my senior season.” The Deacons, who will have all five starters back next season, missed by four shots of qualifying for the NCAAs. Zalatoris wishes it could have been different and the entire team had gone with him to Sugar Grove, Ill., for the championships.

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// W I L L Z A L AT O R I S

Even after his recent NCAA Championship finish, Zalatoris still can do something that neither Haas, Simpson or Reifers could do when they were at Wake Forest. He has a shot at winning an NCAA individual title, something no Demon Deacon player has done since Gary Hallberg accomplished the feat in 1979. Earlier this season Zalatoris was ranked as high as fourth by Golf Week in the college rankings and his 70.0 scoring average entering the NCAAs trailed only Haas, who set the school record with a 68.93 average in 2003-04. Jerry Haas says that Zalatoris, who in 11 tournaments this season had nine top-10 finishes with one victory, is the consummate Wake Forest player. “Will came to us as the U.S. Junior champ weighing about 150 pounds and was skinny but could still hit it a long way,” said Haas, who has coached at his alma mater for the last 20 years. “Now he’s 175 pounds and the thing about him is how consistent he’s become. I think that’s the most remarkable aspect of his game is his consistency.” Zalatoris has three victories in his career and will most likely add to that next season. Before that time, however, he’ll be busy this summer. He’ll go through sectional qualifying for a spot in the U.S. Open on June 5, then play in either a European Tour tournament or a Web.com Tour tournament in July. One of the things he likes best about his time at Wake Forest is how many friends he’s made outside of the golf team. It’s part of the maturing process that he says has grounded him even more. “You come to college to play golf and think that’s all you are going to do but you will be burned out in about a month,” he said. “And the way I view it as being on scholarship at such a great school like Wake Forest is I get to hang out with friends on the golf team, and we get to practice and play in tournaments. So I have the best of both worlds.” John Dell, a multi-award winning journalist, covers Wake Forest golf as well as professional and amateur golfing events throughout North Carolina for the Winston-Salem Journal.

Will Zalatoris CLASS: Junior MAJOR: Psychology HOMETOWN: Plano, Texas FAVORITE FOOD: Italian FAVORITE BOOK: Mindset (by Carol Dweck) FAVORITE ATHLETE: Tiger Woods FAVORITE WFU MOMENT: Going to NCAAs as an individual with Coach Haas


All-America Kupcho 2nd in NCAAs




Sophomore Jennifer Kupcho finished as a runner-up at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship, firing a two-overpar 218 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., May 19-22.

earn first team honors. Her sophomore season featured three victories, three runner-up finishes and a top-10 finish in all but one tourney. Her scoring average of 70.61 set a new Wake Forest record.

Kupcho led the tournament, which was shortened to 54 holes after inclement weather forced cancellation of the second round, by one shot entering the final day and was atop the field until a triple bogey on the next-to-last hole. Her runner-up finish is still the best ever by a Demon Deacon in the NCAAs.

Senior Sierra Sims was also recognized by the WGCA as honorable mention AllAmerica. Her 72.20 scoring average this year is the second-best in school history.

Following the event, Kupcho was named a first-team All-American by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, becoming just the fifth WFU player to




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By Steve Shutt

LOCAL PRODUCT GRANT DAWSON ENJOYS NEW VIEW AS STARTING LINEBACKER FOR HOMETOWN TEAM Grant Dawson POSITION: Linebacker CLASS: Redshirt Senior HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-1, 230 HOMETOWN: Winston-Salem SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT HIM: Named the Athletic Department’s Weight Room Junkie by his fellow studentathletes at the Black & Golden Globes ONE OF THE CAPTAINS: He is one of six captains for the 2017 Deacons. The others are tight end Cam Serigne, defensive end Wendell Dunn, linebacker Jaboree Williams, quarterback John Wolford and center A’Lique Terry.


very Saturday afternoon, Deacon Hill at BB&T Field is teeming with families taking in a Wake Forest football game. Spread out on blankets, it is a relaxing and enjoyable way to catch Demon Deacon football. Youngsters roll down the hill, toss around the Nerf football and chase each other up and down the hill in the shadow of the Bob McCreary Video Board. Little did the Wake Forest football coaches realize it would also prove to be fertile recruiting ground. In 2006, Deacon Hill offered a magnificent view of Wake Forest’s ACC Championship season – from the blocked field goal attempt to beat Duke in September to a November win over No. 16 Boston College and star quarterback Matt Ryan. The Deacon fans on Deacon Hill saw every play. Well, almost every play. For 10-year old Grant Dawson, the Hill was as much about having fun as watching the Deacons play. “We got after it on the Hill,” said Dawson. Fast forward 11 years and now Dawson, the Reagan High School grad, will once again be entertaining youngsters on Deacon Hill with his hard play and heavy hits. The rising senior linebacker has experienced quite the spectrum of emotions over the last 11 years. As the 2017 season approaches, Dawson looks forward to his senior season and, in particular, wearing the prestigious “C” on his jersey that signifies Captain. The son of Harry and Lisa Dawson, Grant got his start in football playing for the Forsyth County Broncos. “We usually played around 11 in the morning so we were done by 12 and even for noon games, we would be there by halftime,” Dawson said. A fullback and linebacker, Dawson’s love of football started on the youth league fields of Winston-Salem. His love of the Demon Deacons started on Deacon Hill. From the Broncos, it was on to Reagan High where the still-new Raiders had yet to post a winning season in their first four years. Under Dawson and head coach Josh McGee, that changed. “My senior year was when that turned,” Dawson said. “We had our first winning season, first time making the playoffs, first time beating Mount Tabor and West Forsyth. That was huge for us. After I left, they won a couple more conference championships.” Despite his success and that of the Reagan Raiders, the college football recruiting process left much to be desired for Dawson. Scholarship offers from a handful of Football Championship Subdivision programs fell through. “(Recruiting) is a business. You kind of learn that during recruiting,” Dawson said. “You hear from coaches on a weekly basis for so long and they’re so interested then at the last second, it’s ‘oh well, we took somebody else’ or ‘we’re not taking another linebacker’ when you’ve been led to believe you’re going to get an offer. It is what it is. As a high school kid, it’s a little bit heartbreaking.” Dawson didn’t wallow in the heartbreak. Instead he turned to Wake Forest where the coaches had been in constant contact but had been honest in stating their desire for him to walk-on.

JUNE 2017



// G R A N T D AW S O N

Dawson made his decision the day after signing day. “I had a decision to make, and I was either going to go to Wingate, or I was going to try and walk on at Wake Forest,” Dawson said. “It was a stressful couple of days. I prayed about it. I didn’t want to cut myself short on anything. I decided to give it a shot. So I called (the coaching staff) and told them I’d like to walk-on. (They) were honest with me, saying that we can’t give you a scholarship, we’ve already signed some linebackers, but we’d love to have you as a preferred walk-on.” Once he arrived in the fall of 2013, much like every freshman on campus, Dawson realized the stakes were higher than they were in high school. “It was a little bit of a shell-shocking experience,” Dawson said. “The speed of the game is so dramatically different from high school to college. It’s just a very quick transition. I think the majority of college football players have that ‘Wow, here we go’ moment. My first scrimmage, I think it was freshmen vs. the first team, and it was (running back) Josh Harris around the corner. He gave me a hard cut, and he totally broke my ankles and I said ‘What am I doing? They didn’t have these guys in high school.’” The transition period didn’t last long for the 6-1, 225-pounder. Following the 2013 season and Dawson’s first year, Dave Clawson and his staff were hired to help transform the Deacons. “That’s when I realized I could do this,” Dawson said. “The spring of 2014 is kind of legendary as far as winter workouts went. They put us through it. I was kind of proud of myself for hard work. I know it stuck out to (strength) Coach (Brandon) Hourigan and (linebacker) Coach (Mike) Elko. I remember meeting with Coach Elko, and he told me ‘you can play with these guys, keep working.’ I started getting in the rotation, in the two-deep. I did move my way up the depth chart, getting some more reps, kept working, kept getting better. I realized I can do this, and I made the right decision. That was a good spring.” After two seasons as a walk-on, Dawson had another arrivaltype moment. “Coach Clawson said you have done the things you needed to do to get on scholarship, that is be in the two deep rotation at linebacker, be on special teams and be productive on special teams,” Dawson said. “He was able to put me on (scholarship) that summer. I was actually with Brandon Chubb, and I had my mom call me back and I told her. It was a really good feeling. My mom started screaming, and I heard my dad in the background screaming.” In 2016, Dawson earned four starts including the Military Bowl victory over Temple. He finished ninth on the team with 35 tackles on the year to go with an interception and 2.5 tackles for loss. In 2017, Dawson realizes his role has changed. Being elected one of six captains for the 2017 season brings along a different set of pressures. “It wasn’t expected, but I was hoping my teammates would see that,” Dawson said. “That was a huge honor, as far as the type of player I am. Leadership and hard work, those are the foundations of the player I am and teammate I have to be. That was big time. (As a captain) you’re held to a higher standard, and everything you do is under the microscope as far as your teammates. I’m always trying to hold myself to a pretty high standard. I’m definitely going to keep that up. “ Dawson’s role as a captain will not begin when camp opens later this summer. That role was assumed immediately after the spring game. “Captains, in the summer, their responsibility is as great as any other time of the year,” he said. “Summer is the most playerled time of the year especially for our defense. We just installed



DAWSON’S ROLE AS A CAPTAIN WILL NOT BEGIN WHEN CAMP OPENS LATER THIS SUMMER. THAT ROLE WAS ASSUMED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SPRING GAME. a new defense, and it is critical for us to get the extra player practices and the extra player reps. We’re going to get these things coordinated with (fellow linebacker) Jaboree Williams. It is optional, but you want to keep the optimism up and stay focused. That’s when I’m going to use my captain responsibilities.” With the knowledge that comes with four years of experience, what would Dawson say to a freshman walk-on this fall that might aid his transition to Wake Forest football? “There’s another kid from my high school walking on this fall,” Dawson said. “I told him things don’t happen overnight. You have to keep working and be consistent with your work ethic. You’ve got some talented guys coming in. Chances are you’re not going to earn a scholarship right away. You have to keep working, keep your head up. Hard work will play off eventually even if it doesn’t seem like it.” For Grant Dawson, that experience has led him down Deacon Hill, over the red brick wall, and right smack-dab onto the middle of BB&T Field.

JUNE 2017



// S TA N C O T T E N

Deacons and Diamonds


By the time you read this, I have no idea where the Wake Forest baseball team will be. Perhaps the season will be over. I hope not. Because with the way this team can swing the bat, the College World Series is a real possibility. But baseball is a fickle dance partner. You just never know. The Deacs were on a high on Memorial Day Eve when it was announced that Wake Forest would host its first NCAA Regional in a decade and a half. It was big news, in more ways than one, and head coach Tom Walter knew it. “It’s huge for our program,” Walter admitted. “We talk all the time about consistency and building a program. Any great team can put together a good year or put up a deep run in the postseason and get to an NCAA Tournament. But when you go to back-to-back regionals and you host one of those years, it means you have a great program. That’s a

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testament to our seniors and their hard work and dedication.” So the Deacons knew their First Step to Omaha, the exact words above the clubhouse door as the Deacons make their way out to the field at David F. Couch Ballpark, would indeed come at home against a field consisting of MarylandBaltimore County, Maryland and West Virginia. I’m sure hoping the Deacons have been able to move on. After a less than auspicious start to the season in Texas when the Deacs lost three of their first four games, this team began to look, well, like a real team – one with few weaknesses. It was a team that could hit, that’s for sure. Heading into the ACC Tournament in Louisville, Wake led the nation with 93 home runs and added more to the total that week. But the Deacs were more than a team that could hit home runs. Wake Forest also ranks in the top 30 nationally in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, slugging and walks. Before the end of the regular season, everyone knew this was going to be a postseason team – beyond Louisville. It was just a matter of how well the Deacs would finish and whether or not they’d be awarded a regional site and get the luxury that only 16 teams in the national field of 64 get. Home field to begin the hunt for a national championship. Heading into the postseason, Wake stayed hot – winning seven of its final 10 regular season games. For the first time in more than a decade, the Deacs were a consensus top-25 team, ranked as high as No. 12 by Baseball America. Prior to the season, Wake Forest was tabbed to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division. All Tom Walter did in his eighth season in the Deacon dugout was lead Wake to the third best record in the entire league. No other ACC team came close to being this much better than predicted. I

thought a terrific case could be made for Walter for ACC Coach of the Year. The Deacons set program records for ACC wins in a season (19), ACC series wins (8) and All-ACC honorees (9). The team also set new season standards in home runs passing the old mark of 90 and strikeouts by Deacon pitchers, leaving behind the old standard of 482 K’s in a season. There were a lot of folks, and I include myself in this group, who wondered how Wake would react to losing two players like Will Craig and Nate Mondou, who both made so many plays for the Deacons during their great careers and consistently produced when the Deacs needed a spark. I’d say they’ve done pretty well thank you very much – but it hasn’t been just one player. It’s truly been a team effort. Much has been made down the stretch about Wake Forest’s home run totals, and rightfully so. But what is really striking is that each player, 1-9 in the order, could take the ball deep. For the first time in program history, Wake had five different players with double-digit home run totals. It had been 16 years since four Deacons hit that many home runs, but in 2017 Gavin Sheets, who also led the nation in RBI’s going into the ACC Tournament with 77, Johnny Aiello, Stuart Fairchild, Bruce Steel and Keegan Maranpot had each watched the ball sail over the fence at least 10 times. And to nearly top that, nine Deacons had hit grand slams. I hope this finds you remembering how the Deacons got to where they are today – still playing. Is this the season Wake makes it back to the College World Series and maybe wins its second-ever national title in baseball? If so, it would be just the third ACC team to win a College World Series. The Deacons would have two. Virginia has one. If not – if between now when I’m writing and your reading the Deacs have been eliminated from postseason play, fear not. Tom Walter has this team back on very solid ground. I don’t have to know where this team is to know where it’s going.


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A Graduation Reflection


In enjoying these warm summer days, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a month since Commencement 2017 occurred. Graduation is a thought-provoking time in many ways, not just for the students, but for myself and the staff, as well. While our graduating student-athletes reflect on their overall Wake Forest experiences and look toward the future to determine what the next step in each of their journeys will be, we are also pondering the past and future, just with a slightly different lens. At the Deacon Club, graduation allows us to reminisce about all of the success the graduating class has achieved, both on and off the field, all while looking ahead, not only to determine how to continue Developing Champions and supporting future student-athletes, but also how we will properly engage each graduating class to keep them connected with the Athletic Department and the University as they transition to members of Varsity Club. As these thoughts transpire, however, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the achievements of each individual that comprises the class as a whole. The Class of 2017, for example, consisted of 82 student-athletes, each of whom took a different path to get to Wake Forest and has their own story to tell about their experience. It is so easy to get caught up in measuring success solely via wins and losses, but our purpose is so much greater than that. We strive to educate our student-athletes and create successful leaders who will excel in all of

their future endeavors, while carrying on the Pro Humanitate spirit. It’s almost unfathomable how many of our student-athletes achieve success across the board throughout their time at Wake Forest. Two recent graduates that immediately come to mind are Luisa Fernandez and Ryan Janvion. Aside from their athletic achievements, Luisa and Ryan were very active on campus and in the community, in addition to succeeding academically. Both were heavily involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and were each named to the All-ACC Academic Team at least once. In addition, they have each been recognized with numerous awards and nominations related to their combined efforts academically, athletically and through serving the community. Luisa was the recipient of the 2016 ITA Carolina Region Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award, as well as a 2017 Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship. As a member of the women’s tennis team, Luisa and her teammates were also recognized as 2016-17 ACC Game Changers for their work with H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Eat), where Luisa helped translate the entire app into Spanish. Ryan was the recipient of the 2016 Jim Tatum Award and was the first Wake Forest player to be named a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. He was also one of 12 finalists for the Campbell Trophy, one of 30 semifinalists for the Senior CLASS Award and a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy. While these are just two examples, all of our student-athletes are truly amazing in a multitude of ways. As Wake Forest student-athletes, these young men and women sacrifice a lot to be able to receive a degree from one of the nation’s top academic institutions, while competing at the highest level in the ACC. As we officially send the Class of 2017 out into the world, and prepare to welcome the Class of 2021, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your support of the Deacon Club. Without you, we would be unable to provide the necessary resources to support these deserving student-athletes. To the Class of 2017 – congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment! Thank you for representing us so well and contributing to the great tradition of Wake Forest Athletics. I look forward to staying connected and wish you the best of luck as you begin your next chapter. Go Deacs!




COMPLETE YOUR 2017 PRE-GAME FIELD PASS APPLICATION A Pre-Game Field Pass is your chance to get an up-close and personal look at Wake Forest football! Only available to Deacon Club members, the Pre-Game Field Pass offers sideline access prior to kick-off at home football games. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enhance your game-day experience at BB&T Field! Submit your application at http://bit.ly/2017FieldPass.

Keep up with the Deacon Club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! For the latest news and information from the Deacon Club and to connect with other members, be sure to find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! @WFUDeaconClub Facebook.com/DeaconClub @WFUDeaconClub | @DeacOnTheRun | @BarryFaircloth




Come celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wake Forest Pro-Am! The reception will be held at Haddock House on Sunday, October 15, with the pro-am taking place at Old Town Club on Monday, October 16. The cost of the event is $3,000. For more information or to sign up, please call (336) 758-6000.

We hope you’ll be able to join fellow Deacon fans, Varsity Club members, Wake Forest coaches and staff on Friday, September 15, and Saturday, September 16. The Deacs will play Utah State at the Homecoming football game on Saturday at 3 p.m. More information will be provided in the coming months.

JUNE 2017



// H U G H L E N E B U R T O N

Dr. Hughlene Burton happy to provide support for future Deacons


n reflecting on your own educational journey, what thoughts cross your mind? Between ups, downs, opportunities and challenges, there are most likely a mixture of emotions that surface. While education is an immensely powerful tool in so many ways, for some, it is a tool that is impossible to obtain without the support of others. As a first-generation college student, Dr. Hughlene Burton (’81) is a true believer in the power of education and has made it a point to help provide the support necessary for others to attend Wake Forest University. Growing up in Hickory, N.C., as an excellent student with an interest in



athletics, Burton’s journey with Wake Forest began as she started looking at colleges to attend. While she was undecided on whether she wanted to pursue a career in law or accounting, Burton sought a university that offered both programs in an effort to keep her options open. Initially drawn in by the academic reputation, Wake Forest happened to check all of her boxes; academics, athletics, community service and a small, family atmosphere. Once she stepped foot on campus for her initial visit, there was no looking back for Burton, who immediately fell in love with the picturesque views and closeknit environment.

Burton had no trouble acclimating to life at Wake Forest, working hard to excel academically, attending football and basketball games, and getting involved on campus in various capacities. As a member of the S.T.E.P.S. society and a little sister for Sigma Pi fraternity, Burton participated in intramural sports, as well as many community service projects, including one of the first fundraisers for Brian Piccolo. During her freshman year, after offering assistance to several of the football players she was friends with, Burton became a math tutor for the University, where she was able to help numerous student-

athletes throughout the entirety of her undergraduate career. Burton’s time as a tutor piqued her interest in teaching and carried over to her professional life. After graduating from Wake Forest, she put her accounting degree to use, where she was presented with the opportunity to instruct continuing education courses for the company she was employed by. After nine years in the professional world, Burton came to the realization that teaching was the field she desired to work in. More specifically, she wanted to be a professor. Equipped with the knowledge that she needed to pursue her doctorate, Burton set out to the University of Alabama, where she ultimately earned her PhD. “I always thought I would go back to graduate school to get a master’s degree in accounting,” Burton said, “but never thought I would get my PhD.” While it may not have been the initial plan, it has certainly worked out well for Burton, who has now been a professor for 23 years and currently serves as

the Director of the Turner School of Accountancy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Once she returned to North Carolina after earning her PhD, Burton began her involvement with the Deacon Club, and through her contributions, has been helping to provide opportunities and resources to Wake Forest studentathletes ever since. “It’s not just about writing and mailing a check for an annual contribution,” Burton shares, “my involvement with the Deacon Club has brought me back to campus more frequently, created relationships and has helped strengthen my overall connection with Wake Forest as an alumna.” In devising a plan for the next several years, Burton, along with her sister, Amy (’92), has recently decided to give back in an even bigger way by creating a scholarship, which will be known as the Hughlene and Amy Burton Athletic Scholarship. Having been the first member of her family to attend college, Burton truly

understands the impact a Wake Forest education can have and wants to help provide that opportunity to others, stating, “It’s not just about athletics, it’s about the student-athletes and it’s a way of supporting those who may not otherwise have the opportunity of an education without our support.” As she sat at January’s fifth annual Stewardship Brunch, alongside her sister and current football studentathlete, Matt Colburn, any doubts she may have had about creating a scholarship were erased. “In talking with Matt and hearing his story, along with the remarks of the panelists, I knew I was making the right decision.” Looking ahead, Burton is excited to see all that Wake Forest Athletics will accomplish and looks forward to developing relationships with the future recipients of her scholarship. “I’m proud to be a Demon Deacon and support our student-athletes who are successful in so many ways, thriving in academics, athletics and community service!”

deacon club photos Deacon Club members are encouraged to submit photos for publication in the Gold Rush. Send your photos in digital format to deacclub@wfu.edu. Submission of a photo does not guarantee that it will be published. Thanks for showing off your Demon Deacon pride!



1 Deacon Club members, including individuals from the 1955 national championship baseball team, enjoy the Wake Forest vs. App State baseball game in Shelby.

2 Ron Wellman, Director of Athletics, delivers a toast to graduating studentathletes at the 2017 Athletics Graduation Reception.


3 N  early 300 donors, coaches and studentathletes attended the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Shah Basketball Complex and Sutton Sports Performance Center.

JUNE 2017






n each issue, Where Are They Now showcases a former Wake Forest student-athlete. Michael Altieri (’03) was a member of the Wake Forest men’s track and field/cross country team from 1998-2003. Altieri competed in cross country as well as multiple track events including the 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m steeplechase and 4x400m relay. He had a standout final season from 2002-03 where he finished as a top runner in all seven regular-season cross country races, while also finishing 15th at the ACC Championship and seventh at the NCAA Southeast Regional, earning All-Region honors. In the 2001-02 season, Altieri was named to the 2002 Indoor All-ACC team for his third-place finish in the Mile Run at the ACC Championship. He also finished fourth in the 1500m and fifth in the 3000m steeplechase at the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Though he did not compete in the 2000-01 season, in his first two seasons as a Demon Deacon from 1998-00, he recorded multiple top10 finishes and several event titles.

Michael Altieri When did you graduate from Wake Forest? 2003 What was your major and/or minor? Communication What does being a Demon Deacon mean to you? It means being a part of a family that shared an experience unlike any other, at an extraordinary place. When I meet other Wake alumni for the first time, there is an instant camaraderie and fellowship knowing that we both have this amazing thing that bonds us. I have many close friends, but none closer than those special people whom I’ve met during my time at Wake. No matter how far we go or how busy we get, we will forever be bonded as fellow Demon Deacons. Why are you still involved in Wake Forest Athletics? To support the student-athletes. Wake Forest is a special place that finds and molds special people. I am so fortunate to have been chosen as one of those few, and more fortunate to have represented the University as an athlete. All members of the student body are stewards of the University, but the student-athletes are its most visible ambassadors. That is a heavy weight and those student-athletes need as much support as our alumni can bestow upon them. Why do you feel it is important to give back to the University? The University always supported me. I owe so much to so many teachers, deans and staff of the college. Giving back to the University is as important as giving to the Athletics programs. What is your current occupation? Commercial Real Estate Broker



What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest? Meeting my wife (although technically it was in “overtime”). What makes you most proud of Wake Forest? Wake Forest is committed to excellence in athletics without compromising academics, student development and growth. Wake is focused on producing graduates with the highest levels of character and integrity. When you come back to Wake Forest, you always… Marvel at the changes around campus! The growth since I’ve left is impressive!

I was there when… Sadly, when the towers fell. I will never forget leaving Benson that morning after watching the unimaginable on the television in Shorty’s. I walked to Wait Chapel, and as I looked up to that steeple, I remember being so sad and confused. I walked upstairs and sat in the balcony for a long time that day. Who is your favorite coach at Wake Forest, current or past? Bill Dellinger – a true legend. Coach Dellinger came to Wake for only one cross country season to fill a void between coaches, but I will never forget that semester. Arguably, my peak season and I undoubtedly owe it to Coach Dellinger.



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// P E R F O R M A N C E N U T R I T I O N

Performance Nutrition becomes new priority


he link between healthy eating and performance is no secret. Proper nutrition is critical, not only for optimal athletic performance in competition, but also for enhancing recovery efforts. Since 2014 when the NCAA lifted restrictions on how much and how often Division I schools can feed student-athletes, collegiate athletic programs across the country have begun to reevaluate their approach to nutrition and make significant investments in the fueling of student-athletes. Wake Forest Athletics recognized the need to do the same, and thanks to the establishment of the Nutrition Fund and fundraising efforts led by the Deacon Club’s Parents’ Athletic Council, the department has made great strides in its efforts to ensure that student-athletes are fueling themselves in a manner that prepares them to perform at their best. The driving force behind the nutritional efforts is Kate Ruley, Director of Sports Nutrition, who joined the athletic department staff full-time in January. Ruley was no stranger to working with Wake Forest student-athletes, having worked closely with many of them over the past 14 years in her role as a sports dietician for the University, yet her impact was felt immediately. Working in collaboration with the Sports Medicine and Sports Performance staffs, Ruley’s vision for Performance Nutrition at Wake Forest is starting to take shape. “We are striving to be a progressive, strategic program utilizing the latest evidence-based protocols, tools and information to develop world-class athletes,” Ruley said. “Our approach will be a food-first (whole foods) model focused on eliciting the most out of our available resources to guide and support student athletes. The Performance Nutrition team works closely with athletes and coaches to promote nutrition as an essential component in performance, as well as overall wellbeing.” Since January, Ruley has not only been evaluating each team’s current nutrition programs – looking for ways to enhance their efforts while also streamlining and finding cost efficiencies – but she also spends much of her time counseling and educating individuals and teams on nutrition strategies, reviewing and recommending nutritional supplements, working with vendors to create menus for team meals, assisting coaches with meal planning when teams are on the road, creating and overseeing fueling stations in several athletic facilities, and developing plans for the future nutrition center which will be located in the Sutton Sports Performance Center. Ruley is also working hard to develop a small team of interns and volunteers who assist her with day-to-day tasks such as preparing sandwiches and snacks on game day and restocking the fueling stations. “It’s exciting to see the emphasis being placed on Performance Nutrition within the athletic department,” Ruley explained. “There is a lot to accomplish, but we are making



great progress, and this is definitely an area in which there is so much opportunity to provide countless benefits to our athletes and teams.” “We are thrilled to have Kate on our staff full-time,” Director of Athletics Ron Wellman said. “Proper nourishment of our student-athletes is a high priority and is crucial to the successful pursuit of our mission of ‘Developing Champions,’ and we are already beginning to see the fruits of Kate’s efforts. Her expertise and ability to equip our teams with healthy nutritional strategies are undoubtedly having a positive impact on our program both competitively, and from a recruiting standpoint as well. “ The Wake Forest baseball team has been one of the beneficiaries of the department’s focus on Performance Nutrition this season. When the new Baseball Player Development Center at David F. Couch Ballpark opened in February, the nutrition area was an immediate hit. With Ruley’s guidance and expertise, the kitchen is stocked with a variety of foods ranging from healthy grab-and-go items that athletes can turn to for a pre- or post-workout energy boost, to ingredients for smoothies, to a chocolate milk machine that can aid in recovery. Ruley and her team of interns and volunteers can also often be found in the nutrition area on game day making peanut butter and banana sandwiches and turkey roll-ups and preparing snacks for the dugout to help keep the team fueled and performing at their best during games that often last more than three hours. “With the addition of the nutrition area, our team’s ability to be properly equipped to make the necessary gains in

strength and conditioning has improved dramatically, and it has also helped us on game days,” senior captain Parker Dunshee expanded. “The schedule of a college athlete sometimes means guys are coming straight from class to the field or straight to tutoring after practice, so the nutrition area allows us to be properly fueled before and after practice and eliminates missing meals. Thanks to availability of quality and sufficient nutrition, we are able to maximize our efforts in practice and workouts and keep our energy up during games.” Tom Walter, the head baseball coach, recognizes the significant impact the nutrition area and Ruley’s efforts have on his team. “The ACC is the No. 1 baseball conference in the nation, and the difference in talent from one program to the next can be negligible. The teams that win are the teams that find a competitive advantage off the field. Kate Ruley and the Performance Nutrition program provide a significant competitive advantage that sets us apart from the rest,” Walter explained. In time, that competitive advantage will be evident throughout every Wake Forest athletic program. When construction of the Sutton Sports Performance Center is complete in late-2018, it will feature a nutrition area that

will serve as the central hub for fueling and educating student-athletes. It will ensure that all Wake Forest studentathletes have convenient access to nutritious snacks and the resources necessary to develop sound nutritional strategies and make healthy choices. “Performance Nutrition at Wake Forest will be an integral component of the Sports Performance Team, which was established in January within WFU Athletics,” Ruley said. “Working collaboratively with Sports Medicine, Strength and Conditioning, coaching staffs, and administration, the Performance Nutrition team will ensure our athletes have the foundational nutrition elements to prepare for and recover from training and competition. We will bring the best of science and nutrition practice together to optimize the performance of our athletic teams, as well as care for overall student athlete wellbeing. “I want to express my gratitude to the members of the Parents’ Athletic Council who acknowledged the need for investment in this area and were instrumental in bringing our vision for Performance Nutrition to life,” Ruley said. “Their commitment to ‘Developing Champions’ and the generosity of those who continue to support the Nutrition Fund is overwhelming, and I, along with the entire Performance Nutrition team, am committed to making sure that that their support continues to have a tremendous positive impact on the success of our student-athletes and athletic programs.” If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the Nutrition Fund, please contact the Deacon Club at (336) 758-5626.

JUNE 2017



// T O D D H A I R S T O N



The summer months are a time when student-athletes all over the country are looking for ways to make a little extra money before returning to school in the fall. There is often confusion about the rules regarding the employment of student-athletes. Given the number of recent high-profile cases involving impermissible benefits to student-athletes, many Deacon supporters, as well as other local employers, are left wondering whether they can, or should, hire current student-athletes. NCAA rules do permit student-athletes to be employed, and unlike years past, there are no limits on the amount of money they may earn. There are standards that govern the process by which student-athletes are hired and how they can be compensated, however. The first stipulation is that a studentathlete cannot be hired strictly based on his or her reputation as a student-athlete. All normal hiring practices (e.g., completion

of application, interview) must be followed and all prerequisites and qualifications for the job in question must be met. Further, student-athletes can only be paid for work that has been performed at the time payment was received. Compensation must also be commensurate with the going rate for the particular type of work performed. Additionally, any perks associated with a job, such as a company car, free meals, entertainment, etc., must be available to all employees. In cases where student-athletes are hired to perform odd jobs on a temporary basis (e.g., moving furniture), such opportunities must be publicized and open to the general public. While student-athletes are not precluded from these types of opportunities, they may not be handpicked for these jobs. For other questions related to this issue, please contact me at hairstct@wfu.edu.


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Profile for Wake Forest Athletics

Gold Rush - June 2017  

The official publication of Wake Forest Athletics

Gold Rush - June 2017  

The official publication of Wake Forest Athletics

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