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Bound for the FedEx Orange Bowl: story ideas from Wake Forest

December 14, 2006

WAKE FOREST WEB SITE DEVOTED TO ORANGE BOWL — Wake Forest’s Office of Public Affairs has launched a new Web site dedicated to Wake Forest’s appearance in the FedEx Orange Bowl Jan. 2. The site offers fast facts and figures about the university, story ideas and details about Wake Forest’s winning combination of academics and athletics, downloadable photographs (including shots of fans rolling the university’s quad), and much more. Here’s the link:

The site complements the Orange Bowl Central Web site created by Wake Forest’s athletics department.


WAKE FOREST PRESIDENT REFLECTS ON HIS ORANGE BOWL EXPERIENCES — In his years at the University of Notre Dame, Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch experienced the excitement that an Orange Bowl invitation can spark, but Hatch said Wake Forest’s enthusiasm over its FedEx Orange Bowl bid beats anything he has seen. “There is something about this year at Wake Forest, something so extraordinary and unexpected,” said Hatch, who joined Wake Forest as president in 2005 after a three-decade career at Notre Dame. “Here, there is a sense of exhilaration that surpasses anything I have ever witnessed.” At Notre Dame, where he ultimately served as provost, Hatch attended three Orange Bowls – 1990, 1991 and 1996. There, expectations were routinely high for football and dedicated fans generally anticipated they would see Notre Dame in bowl games. At Wake Forest, Hatch said he has been moved by fans’ appreciation for the team’s achievements, recalling that he saw fans brought to tears after the Deacons won the ACC championship in Jacksonville. On Jan. 2, Hatch will join Wake Forest fans in Miami, where he said he expects to be surrounded by people who are passionate in their devotion to Wake Forest and its aspirations. “This is a place of great loyalty and commitment, win or lose,” Hatch said. “It is a wonderful community.”

Contact: Kevin P. Cox, or (336) 758-5237.


ATHLETICS WINS ARE BY-PRODUCT OF QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE — Richard Carmichael, professor of mathematics at Wake Forest University, has been an ardent supporter of athletics at the university throughout his nearly 50-year association with Wake Forest. No stranger to academic and athletic success himself, Carmichael was a key frontcourt reserve as a sophomore on the 1962 Wake Forest basketball team, which won both the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament conference titlesand went on to the Final Four, finishing third in the national tournament. Carmichael graduated in 1964 and attended graduate school at Duke University before returning to Wake Forest as a faculty member. He said the university has been able to achieve a high level of success in the classroom and on the field because of quality leadership and realistic expectations from supporters. “The leadership provided by the president and the director of athletics is fundamentally important,” Carmichael said. “These leaders insist that our student-athletes be students first and have control over the program. Everyone associated with the university wants our program to be first-rate, both academically and athletically. At the same time, I believe most of our fans have a reasonably good outlook as to what can be accomplished with respect to wins and losses. Most of our fans simply want to see competitive teams first, with wins coming as they will.” Carmichael serves as the university’s faculty representative to the athletics department, a position that allows him to bring a faculty perspective to athletics decision making. He also serves as a statistician at home basketball games.

Contact: Jacob McConnico, or (336) 758-5237.


SCREAMIN’ DEMONS WEAR TIE-DYES, LOVE DEACS — Wake Forest students who profess to be enthusiastic fans of Demon Deacon athletics come in a variety of stripes, but a large number of them come in black and gold tie-dyed streaks, body paint and an astonishing variety of Wake Forest-inspired hats. The student-run group, Screamin’ Demons, has been around at Wake Forest for more than a decade, but in the past three years the group has more than doubled in size, counting about half of the entire undergraduate student body as members. Students in the group pay $30 and are guaranteed tickets to all home football and basketball games, with choice seats reserved in the student section. In return, students agree to attend all home games, including basketball exhibition games, with few exceptions. As part of their membership, students are given a black and gold tie-dyed T-shirt to wear to all games. “Screamin’ Demons began as a faction of the Wake Forest student section at football and basketball games,” said Lauren Grove, a junior at the university and a leader for Screamin’ Demons. “Their membership quickly expanded until they overtook the entire student section in the 2004-2005 season. The Screamin’ Demons are now a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic Coast Conference.” The group was recently recognized by on its list of “Top 65 Reasons to Watch College Hoops.” It was the only student section featured on the list. The black and gold tie-dyed T-shirts are now worn by Wake Forest fans, including many alumni, to most varsity athletic competitions. The success of the tie-dyed shirts at Wake Forest has inspired other schools to produce licensed apparel tie-dyed in their school colors. Members of the group will be in the stands when Wake Forest plays Louisville in Miami.

Contact: Jacob McConnico, or (336) 758-5237.


FANS FLOCK TO DEACON SHOP — At Wake Forest’s Deacon Shop, black and gold tie-dyes are still popular, but ACC championship T-shirts have become the hottest seller, said Buz Moser, director of University Stores. Orange Bowl-bound gear is also moving quickly, Moser said. Transactions at all locations are up more than 100 percentfrom this time last year. Online orders reached an all-time high on Monday, Dec. 5, more than ten times the volume from the same date in 2005. “While the football team’s success is certainly a huge factor, we’ve had remarkable success in many of our other sports,” he said. He opened a temporary store in a hotel in Jacksonville during the ACC championship. Wake Forest is also one of the few universities in the country to operate a store in a shopping mall. The Deacon Shop in Hanes Mall has also seen a sharp increase in sales. The store is getting new merchandise in every day. “This surge is quite similar to when the men’s basketball team was ranked number one a couple of years ago,” Moser said. “Our core group of Wake Forest fans have always been loyal to our teams and, indirectly, to our stores. So to them, thanks. And to our new fans, welcome.”

Contact: Cheryl V. Walker, or (336) 758-5237.


BOWL GAME EXPECTED TO DRAW LARGEST NUMBER OF ALUMNI IN HISTORY — The trip to Miami may be the largest gathering of alumni in Wake Forest history.  Welcome centers, happy hours, a tailgate party, a fan fest and a pep rally are planned for the thousands of Demon Deacons who will head to South Florida for the game.  And, there will be hundreds of informal meetings of smaller groups of classmates.  The alumni office has set up an online registry to help old friends connect when they get to Miami.  Welcome centers will be set up at the Hyatt Regency in Miami and the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa and New Year’s Day gatherings are planned at hotels in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.  For help connecting with Wake Forest alumni in the days leading up to the game, or to arrange an interview with Minta McNally, director of alumni activities at Wake Forest, or James Bullock, vice president for university advancement, contact the News Service.

Contact:  Kevin P. Cox, or (336) 758-5237.


CELEBRATING WAKE FOREST WINS: TOILET PAPER TRADITION — Wake Forest students, alumni and other fans celebrate sports victories by “rolling the quad,” covering the center of campus with toilet paper. The tradition is relatively new, considering the university’s 172-year history, and began shortly after the university’s 1956 move from the town of Wake Forest, N.C., to Winston-Salem. “On the old campus, students used to ring the bell in Wait Hall,” said Ed Hendricks, professor of history at Wake Forest. “There was a bell pull that anyone could access. When the university moved here, there were bells in Wait Chapel but no bell pull. Students had to find a new way to celebrate,” Hendricks said. They most likely adopted the tradition from R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, whose students had been rolling the trees on their campus in the 1950s. On occasion, rolling the quad has been a way to celebrate non-athletic successes, too. Following the 2000 presidential debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Wake Forest’s Wait Chapel, students, faculty and staff rolled the quad with red, white and blue streamers. Wake Forest’s math club rolled the quad in celebration of winning an international math contest in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Students and other fans bring their own toilet paper, but some students apparently take rolls from the residence hall bathrooms. Facilities Management staff normally stock the bathrooms before the weekends, but not for rolling purposes. Of course, they often have to restock on Mondays.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, or (336) 758-5237.


TEAM UNITY: WAKE FOREST PSYCHOLOGIST EXPLAINS HOW TEAMS WORK — In contrast to popular belief, teams often do not function as well as individuals, said Catherine Seta, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University. “Putting people together in groups often produces negative effects and they do not perform up to their potential,” said Seta, who studies social psychology. “Good leaders can limit the negative effects by creating an atmosphere in which individuals are united for a common goal and have beliefs that working hard will lead to success,” she said. “This is what the coach of the Wake Forest football team has accomplished. When members of teams are united, group-oriented goals become more important than standing out as an individual,” she said. Research by Seta and her students at Wake Forest have found, for example, that when group members become more collectively focused, they incorporate the values and characteristics of the group within their self-concepts. They develop a sense of social identity that transcends their individual goals to compete with other group members. This allows groups to function in a coordinated fashion, and reduces conflict within the group. Individuals with a team social identity work hard, she said.

Contact: Cheryl V. Walker, or (336) 758-5237.


COACHTALK: THE HIDDEN MESSAGE OF COACH COMMENTARY — Ever notice that no matter the sport, coaches and athletes seem to say the same things whether their teams win or lose? Wake Forest Associate Professor of Communication John Llewellyn says you are not imagining things. “After a while, you begin to think you’ve heard it all,” Llewellyn said. “The odds are you have." Llewellyn researched 20 years worth of coach commentary for “Coachtalk,” his chapter in the book “Case Studies in Sport Communication.” He said the research reveals a pattern in what coaches and athletes say about games and game performances that reflects respect for each other and the world of sports. One part of the chapter addresses the quips coaches make to offset the immense pressure they face to win. Llewellyn used the following quote from Doug Dickey, former University of Florida football coach, as an illustration: “The fans talk about the games you won following a 7-3 season. When you go 9-1, they talk about the one you lost.” An expert on rhetoric, Llewellyn has experience talking with broadcast and print media. He is available for interviews about his research and to analyze coaches’ comments during the FedEx Orange Bowl. Contact Llewellyn directly at or (336) 759-7229.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.


ADMINISTRATORS COMMENT ON WINNING BLEND OF ACADEMICS AND ATHLETICS — Nathan O. Hatch, Wake Forest’s 13th president, said the football team’s success has drawn considerable attention to the quality of both the academic and athletic programs at Wake Forest. “A lot of people are asking how a small school known for its academics is able to field NCAA Division I athletic teams that consistently rank among the best in the nation,” Hatch said. “My answer is: Wake Forest is the kind of place where excellence thrives. We have made a commitment to high standards in both academics and athletics. And, the result is a distinctive educational environment focused on exceptional academic programs, with the excitement of athletic competition at the highest levels.” Wake Forest Director of Admissions Martha Allman commented on the team’s effect on admissions: “Prospective students visiting campus this fall cheer when I mention the football team. Their enrollment decisions are based first and foremost on the academic quality of the institution, the faculty, the resources and the opportunities, but they also understand that they are in the process of choosing their home for four years. They want to feel community, school spirit, positive energy and excitement and that is demonstrated in a very real sense through athletics."

Contact: Kevin P. Cox, or (336) 758-5237.

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