Tomorrow is the first day of classes at Wingate for spring semester. And because I spent the fall semester off campus, it has the identical feel for me as the start of the school year. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of folks I haven’t seen in a while.
I like the energy of the beginning of the semester and the idea that everyone has a “clean slate” in their classes and an opportunity to excel. Reminds me of the old sports cliche that everybody’s unbeaten at the start of the season.
It’s also a fresh start for faculty, and a chance to do it better than we did the last time and to try some new things. Not every job offers that, so I feel fortunate.
I’ve already resumed my “other job” since returning to the States on Dec. 13, covering sports events on a part-time basis for the Charlotte Observer. This time of year, I’m either filling in as a backup person for covering the Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team, or working as the primary beat reporter covering the Queens University men’s basketball program. I’ve done that since the 2004-2005 season.
Queens, like Wingate, competes in NCAA Division II, and I’ve found a lot of connections between the two institutions and my own personal history developing over the last couple of seasons.
Brian Good, who coached the Queens men’s basketball team for the last four years, is now my colleague at Wingate, having taken the vacant head coaching position at our school during the summer.
He was replaced by one of his assistants, Wes Long, who at 28 is probably one of the youngest head basketball coaches in any NCAA basketball division. He’s a fellow Clemson graduate and his mother, Kathy Long, was a high school classmate of mine in Clinton, S.C.
Kathy’s youngest sister, Barbara Nelson, became Wingate’s head women’s basketball coach last season after a long and successful career as a high school coach in Charlotte. She led Wingate to the Division II Elite Eight in her first season here. I remember writing newspaper stories about her when she was a feisty starting point guard as an eighth-grader at Thornwell High School in Clinton and I was a young reporter for my hometown newspaper.
I guess what all this proves is the longer you live, the more dots there are to connect in your life.