Lisa Shannon visited Abilene Christian University on March 3, 2014, to speak at the ACU Peace Conference sponsored by the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution. Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women, was the first national grassroots activist in the United States working to raise awareness of the forgotten humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since her lone 30-mile trail run in 2005, thousands have joined Run for Congo Women, now an international movement which has sponsored more than 1,400 war-affected Congolese women through Women for Women International. Shannon’s first book, A Thousand Sisters, targets mainstream audiences, detailing her journeys into war-affected eastern Congo in January through February 2007 and in May 2008.
These days he also finds himself influencing United States diplomacy in the nation’s capital as the only Abilene Christian University graduate working in the State Department for Secretary of State John Kerry.
His office has a view of the Washington Mall, and his responsibilities to Kerry are groundbreaking as the special advisor of the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives. A recent profile in Religion & Politics, a website of the John C. Danforth Center at Washington University in St. Louis, gives an excellent portrayal of the ACU graduate.
As a “portal for engagement with religious leaders and organizations around the world,” Casey’s office “reaches out to faith-based communities to ensure that their voices are heard in the policy process, and it works with those communities to advance U.S. diplomacy and development objectives,” according to the State Department’s website.
His work was praised recently by President Barack Obama in remarks at the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast.
A native of Paducah, Ky., Casey served as a sportswriter on The Optimist newspaper while earning his bachelor’s degree at ACU. He later received M.Div. and Doctor of Theology degrees from Harvard Divinity School and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Casey is on leave from Wesley Theological Seminary, where he is professor of Christian ethics and director of the National Capital Semester for Seminarians.
Abilene Christian University announces the addition of three members to its Board of Trustees: Bill Minick (’82) of Dallas, Rick Atchley (’78) of North Richland Hills and Marelyn B. Shedd of Abilene.
Bill Minick is president of PartnerSource, the largest consulting firm on alternatives to workers’ compensation. He graduated summa cum laude from ACU in 1982 with a B.B.A. in finance, received his J.D. degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1985 and then earned a Master of Laws degree in taxation at Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Minick practiced law for nine years before starting PartnerSource in 1994. In addition to work in recent years on the ACU University Council and the College of Business Administration’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Minick serves on boards and committees for Pepperdine University and the City of University Park, and is an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scouts of America.
He has three children and is married to Dr. Melissa Tonn, who serves on the Board of Regents for Texas Woman’s University.
Rick Atchley has been the preaching minister for The Hills Church of Christ since 1989. He graduated as valedictorian from ACU in 1978 with a B.A. in communications and a minor in Bible. After interning at various congregations in Dallas, Atchley became the preaching minister for Abilene’s Southern Hills Church of Christ in 1978. He continued his education at ACU, earning an M.A. in religious communications with a minor in Bible in 1982.
In February 2014, he was named ACU’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.
Atchley and his wife, Jamie (Lyda ’81), have three children.
Marelyn Shedd serves as regional president at First Financial Bank for Abilene, Odessa, Albany, Clyde and Moran, Texas. She graduated with a B.B.A. in finance and economics from Baylor University in 1983 and has worked for First Financial Bank since 1991.
Shedd is on the board of Abilene Arts Alliance and also serves as board chair of the Community Foundation of Abilene and the Hendrick Medical Center Foundation, and vice president of the Development Corporation of Abilene. She previously served on the boards of Goodwill Industries of West Texas, United Way Abilene, historic Paramount Theatre, Abilene Ballet Theatre, and the Advisory Council of Hendrick Home for Children.
She and her husband, Glen, have two daughters.
ACU’s Board of Trustees is the governing body for the university and trustees are elected at the board’s February meetings each year. They are eligible, if elected, to serve up to five three-year terms. Trustees are asked to contribute to various committees in which their leadership, expertise and influence are best utilized to set policy, guide the institution’s long-term direction and ensure it fulfills its mission to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.
One of the highlights of the political career of U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (’74) was realized Feb. 6 when she co-chaired the 62nd annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
A California congresswoman, Hahn was co-chair with U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas. She introduced President Barack Obama to the audience, and led the closing prayer.
“For centuries, faith-based communities from all around the world have played a crucial role in guiding and strengthening our spiritual health and development,” said Hahn. “This remarkable breakfast provides a rare and special opportunity for leaders to come together, put aside our labels and divisions to unite in prayer and fellowship. I believe in the power of prayer and its ability to unlock doors and soften hearts. It was a humble honor to pray with the President, my congressional colleagues and world leaders in the spirit of Jesus.”
Obama thanked Hahn and also recognized the work of another Abilene Christian University graduate, Dr. Shaun Casey (’79), who is special advisor for faith-based community initiatives in the U.S. State Department. A story about Hahn in the upcoming Spring-Summer 2014 printed issue of ACU Today will provide some insights into her experience.
Although the overall event is a gathering chiefly covered by C-SPAN and other major media on Thursday morning, the National Prayer Breakfast also includes a Wednesday night banquet, and breakfast, luncheon and dinner meetings the next day. Hosted by the House and Senate Prayer Groups the first week of February each year, each meal event draws more than 3,200 people from more than 100 nations to the Washington Hilton.
Two ACU alumni have been featured at the National Prayer Breakfast: Curt Cloninger (’76) in 2012 and Max Lucado (’77) in 1999. Lucado, a minister and best-selling Christian author from San Antonio, was a keynote speaker at the Thursday breakfast, while Cloninger presented his dramatic monologue, “Jesus Speaks,” at a Thursday lunch. Cloninger is an artist-in-residence at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, Ga., where he is an actor and writer.
Founded by President Abraham Lincoln, the National Prayer Breakfast began became an annual event in 1953 in Washington, D.C., at the suggestion of newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said the White House was “the loneliest house I’ve ever been in.” One of the hosts and speakers at that first gathering was hotel pioneer Conrad Hilton. “It took a war and the frightening evil of Communism to show the world that this whole business of prayer is not a sissy, a counterfeit thing,
The latest most Excellent Adventure of David Ramsey (’81) will end Feb. 23 when the XXII Olympic Winter Games conclude. An award-winning sportswriter for The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo., he is covering his fourth Olympic Games, this time in Sochi, Russia. He writes about professional and collegiate sports in and around Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Olympic Training Center, and for ACU Today magazine when he can. You can follow his daily coverage here.
Photos of Ramsey from Sochi are courtesy of veteran photographer Mark Reis, whose coverage can be seen here, including a video of him explaining how he befriends people at Olympic venues, smoothing the way for him to do his job.
What was involved in traveling from your home in Colorado Springs to Russia?
The journey to Sochi was the wildest of my career. I woke up on Monday, Feb. 3, in New York City after covering the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl and had to return to Denver by Tuesday morning to begin my journey to Russia. One problem: It snowed 10 inches in New York. Two of my flights were cancelled, forcing me to take a train to Baltimore to catch a flight to Denver. I arrived in Denver at 8 p.m. Monday night after a full day of travel and awoke at 6 a.m. the next morning to start 17 hours of air travel to Sochi.
What’s involved in getting around Sochi and to the various competition venues?
I rode a gondola on the final segment of my epic trip from a hotel room in Manhattan to a hotel room in Sochi. It’s the only way to arrive at the Panorama Hotel, which deserves the name. I sit in that gondola at least twice a day, and the ride never fails to dazzle me. On a few late nights/early mornings last week, I was sitting in that gondola at 2 a.m. after a long day of work while looking out at the mountains glowing in strong moonlight. An inspiring view.
Buses carry us to competition. I spend a lot of time on buses. It’s a two-hour journey, via gondola and bus, from my hotel in the mountains to the skating and hockey and other events at the Olympic Park on the edge of the Black Sea. I’m sitting on a bus while typing these words. It’s 1:52 a.m., and I’m about halfway home.
Hotel accommodations in Sochi have made headlines for not being up to par. What is yours like, and what does it lack?
I’m a little embarrassed by my hotel. On my other three Olympic trips (Athens, Beijing and London) my rooms were basic, similar to dorm rooms. And I am a dorm expert after living in college dorms for seven of my eight semesters. The room in Sochi is plush and the hotel features an outrageously beautiful Olympic-length pool along with a full Euro-style sauna. Not all of my sportswriter friends have been so lucky, and I’ve tried to keep my magnificent hotel and room a secret.
Describe the view outside your hotel window.
One complaint: Did not get one of the full-view rooms at the Panorama, but this probably is a good thing. Much of my writing is done in the room, which boasts a blazingly fast Internet connection. If blessed with a view room, I would spend all my time staring out the window at those mountains. I can see the mountains out of a corner of the window, but have to work at it.
What are the security issues you face each day, and how do you weigh the potential risk with doing your job as a journalist?
Those Chechen rebels/terrorists are a terrifying gang, and I’ll freely admit fear followed me around for a couple months before arriving in Sochi. But once I arrived here, the fear lessened. The feel here is comfortable, and in many ways the Sochi area reminds me of Southern California. I go through multiple security checks each day and get patted down frequently and thoroughly. (This is one of those good news, bad news kind of things.) I don’t feel totally safe. I do feel mostly safe.
Water out of the tap is unpredictable, and I don’t drink it. The food has been fine. My trip to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics was the dining highlight of my life with tremendous French, Vietnamese and Spanish food. (No tremendous Chinese food, strangely enough.) Sochi reminds me of the Athens trip in 2004. Almost every restaurant offers the same menu. Haven’t endured a bad meal in Sochi. Haven’t celebrated a great meal, either.
How would you describe the Opening Ceremonies experience?
Let me offer a confession: I do not enjoy the Opening Ceremonies of any Olympics. Watching Danny Boyle’s mega-bizarro ceremony at the 2012 London Games remains four of the longest hours of my entire life. The Olympics are full of authentic drama and heart-gripping surprise. I feel blessed to have covered four Olympics, but consider myself a survivor of the Opening Ceremonies. Had a good seat, with a strong view of stone-faced Vladimir Putin, and was happy with the column I wrote after the Opening Ceremony. Still, those three or so hours will rank as the most excruciating of these Games.
Which competitions will you be covering, and how do you determine what to write for The Gazette while covering such a complex event?
I am covering just about everything as the lone reporter from The Gazette. I will write about snowboarding and hockey and figure skating and bobsledding and Alpine skiing and X-Games style snowboarding and skiing, and that’s just a partial list. This keeps me busy, and the travel to and from venues can make for a long day. Last night I climbed into bed thinking it had been an easy day, but soon realized it had been a 12-hour day. It still had been my easiest day of these Games. Not complaining. Can sleep when I return home.
Our coverage decisions are a group effort; I am covering these Games with photographer Mark Reis, and this is his eighth Olympic journey. He offers sound advice. At any Olympics, there are times when I’m sitting in a venue while wishing I was sitting in a different venue, but this frustration isn’t the norm. What I want to do is usually what my bosses want me to do, too. I plan to be, for instance, at the gold-medal hockey games, both men’s and women’s.
How does Sochi compare to the other Olympic venues you’ve experienced?
If smarter, I would have been an architect. The Olympic parks at Athens and Beijing were spectacular, and staggeringly expensive. I doubt future Olympic parks ever will match those historically gorgeous efforts by the Greeks and the Chinese. Sochi’s Olympic park reminds me of the park in London: Impressive, but nothing close to Athens and Beijing. The mountain venues in Sochi are stunning, no doubt about that. I watch competitions while surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. They are absolutely beautiful.
What has surprised you most – in a good way – thus far?
I have been happily surprised by the feeling of safety. When the rebels/terrorists blew up those buses and killed those three dozen innocents, it shook me up. My heart mourned for the victims, but my heart also trembled for the dozens of friends who would join me in Sochi. Peace has replaced the fear. I wake up each morning and look out the corner of my window and see the mountains and can barely wait to start my workday. It’s a blessing to be here, doing what I do. Truly, it is a blessing.
Last night, the Harlem Globetrotters made their 33rd appearance in Abilene since 1952 including their 10th in ACU’s Moody Coliseum, where their basketball schtick showed new inspiration but seemingly never grows old with fans of all ages.
Their New Rules Tour gives fans an opportunity to vote online for variations on the game, including Make or Miss (adding players to each team on the floor for every basket made, subtracting them for each missed shot), Hot Hand Jersey (player wearing it is credited with double points for each basket), Trick Shot Challenge, Six-on-Five (five Globetrotters play a six-man team) and Two-Ball Basketball (two basketballs in play at once).
Nicknames are still prevalent on the team, from 5-foot-2 “Too Tall” Hall (the shortest Globetrotter ever) to 7-foot-4 “Stretch” Middleton (the third tallest Globetrotter in history). In 2014, three of the team’s players are women.
Some of the characters who made the Globetrotters known around the world since 1929 include: Meadowlark Lemon, Fred “Curley” Neal, Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, Reece “Goose” Tatum, Marcus Haynes and Lynette Woodard (the first woman named to the team), among others. Some may recall that eventual Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain, the only NBA player to score 100 points in a single game, began his professional career as a Globetrotter in 1958; his No. 13 jersey was retired by the team in 2000.
But Lemon, also known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball,” was the face of the Globetrotters for 24 years and 16,000 games (including more than 7,500 in a row). He was last on campus in 1989, when his Harlem All Stars played in Moody Coliseum. In 2003, Lemon was inducted into basketball’s Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Today, he is an 81-year-old motivational speaker, author and ordained minister who preaches the gospel with a mission of “changing lives, to change the world.”
You may not know that a former Wildcat center – one of the captains of the 1986-87 ACU men’s basketball team – played in 1990-91 with the Globetrotters. James “Jumping J” Joseph (’88) also played with a professional club team in Australia in 1995.
Thanks to photographer Jeremy Enlow for a look at the fun the Globetrotters brought to a large crowd in Moody last night:
Laughter and tears were shared Sunday afternoon when Abilene Christian University honored its most recent major alumni award winners in an Alumni Day Luncheon in the Teague Special Events Center.
Rick Atchley (’78), minister of the Word at The Hills Church of Christ in the Fort Worth area, was honored as the 2014 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, while the Young Alumnus of the Year award went for the first time to a couple, Randy Brown, M.D. (’94) and his wife, Anda (Adams ’95).
“You guys make us sound really good,” Randy Brown told a crowd of more than 400 people in the McCaleb Conference Center of ACU’s Teague Special Events Center. “I want to meet us, actually.”
The Browns minister in the low-income Como neighborhood of Fort Worth – mentoring, tutoring and loving children and teens in an environment beset by gangs and drugs. Read more about their story.
Among the speakers paying tribute to the Browns’ service was Corey Boone, a high school senior whom Randy Brown had mentored – and who will enter ACU as a freshman in Fall 2014. Boone stood on stage, flanked by two others of what are known as “Dr. Brown’s Mighty Men.”
“He [Randy] saw something in me and the rest of my brothers that we didn’t see in ourselves at the time,” Boone said, stopping to collect himself before addressing the Browns directly. “I am one of many people y’all have touched. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to be a mighty man of God.”
Randy Brown returned the favor, telling Boone from the stage, “We do lots of ministry, but you guys aren’t ministry. You guys are family.”
The Browns grew up together in Midland and became a couple while they were students at ACU, he studying to go into medical school and she majoring in English education. In 2006, after earning a medical degree and opening a family medicine practice, they moved to Como, trading in a life focused on the American dream for one focused on following Jesus’ call to serve the needy.
“Anything good that comes out of our lives is all Jesus,” Anda Brown said. “We’re thankful to ACU because this is a place where we learned to passionately follow Jesus.”
Likewise, Atchley – who preached for Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene for 11 years upon graduating from ACU, then moved to Richland Hills Church of Christ 25 years ago – was praised for his devotion both to his congregants and his God. Read more about his story.
“He is privately what he asks all of us to be from the pulpit,” said Chris Hatchett (’88), minister of the The Hills’ Southlake campus.
“Many of them do it every bit as faithfully and steadfastly as I do,” he said. “In many ways, I stand here for them.”
The biggest laugh of the afternoon came courtesy of a pre-recorded message from Atchley’s ACU roommate, Max Lucado (’78), the best-selling author and San Antonio minister who was himself Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2004. Lucado congratulated Atchley for his success in the field of anesthesiology, before correcting himself. “Anesthesiology, theology,” he quipped. “They both put people to sleep!”
“Seriously, Rick,” he continued. “You’ve been a great friend. You’ve done so much for so many, inspired millions of us with your example, with your written word and with your spoken word.”
Atchley grew up in racially divided 1970s-era Dallas, and the experience molded his mission in the subsequent decades. He has spent decades seeking reconciliation – among races, faith traditions and congregations – and preaching the unifying grace of Christ.
“One of Rick’s greatest gifts [is] helping to focus people’s eyes on Jesus,” said Chris Seidman (’92), senior minister at The Branch in Dallas. “Rick’s focus on Jesus is tied to this university’s influence on him.”
You can tell it’s spring again – or at least it’s not far away – by the sound of baseball at Crutcher Scott Field at Abilene Christian University. ACU wraps up its season-opening series with Arlington Baptist College this afternoon with a game at 1 p.m.
A familiar voice is missing, however, but not reminders of one of the Wildcats’ most loyal benefactors.
Altus “Al” Victor Scott (’61) died Oct. 6, 2013, at age 75 after years of supporting the ACU baseball program. Scott Field bears the name of his late father, Crutcher (’24), a former ACU trustee. Fans who visit the Wildcat ball yard this spring will now have a reminder of Al’s influence, as well. New graphics on the fence in left-center field bear the Scott name and the number 91 – not Al’s uniform number but the year (1991) that intercollegiate baseball returned to campus after an absence of more than a decade.
ACU has yet to retire a uniform number in its baseball program, but 91 is one they will never issue to a student-athlete. In a few weeks, graphics also will be added to the fence to thank former Texas Rangers’ icon Nolan Ryan for his role in making Scott Field a reality.
But in the meantime, Al’s role in the resurgence of Wildcat baseball can be seen on the fence and on the back of the team’s batting practice jerseys, which feature the same number as a reminder of an enduring legacy on the Hill.
It’s Valentine’s Day 2014 on the Hill, where some selfless people are putting their money where their hearts are.
In all the excitement of today’s announcement of the largest single gift ($30 million) and largest collection of gifts ($55 million) ever made at one time in Abilene Christian University’s history, we should not lose sight of the people and relationships behind this remarkable news. Their roots run several generations deep at ACU, and in the case of the Anthony and Onstead families, with each other.
Kathy (Gay ’78) and David D. Halbert (’78) of Colleyville, Texas, are clear about the inspiration for their $15 million commitment to build the Halbert-Walling Research Center: the late Dean Walling and his wife, Thelma.
David’s grandfather was known as “Mr. Integrity,” a giant among those who led ACU’s sprawling Design for Development fundraising campaign more than 50 years ago. Dean Walling was the founding chair of the National Development Council and a trustee from 1976-83. He used his considerable influence to secure major gifts from donors who made it possible for iconic buildings such as Moody Coliseum, Brown Library, McGlothlin Campus Center, Walling Lecture Hall and the Don H. Morris Center rise from the red West Texas soil, helping turn a college into a university. David’s mother was the late Jo Ann (Walling ’54) Halbert, namesake of ACU’s Halbert Institute for Missions, and his father, David Halbert, M.D. (’54), is an Abilene physician. Kathy and David met while taking classes in the College of Business Administration.
Walling led one of the world’s largest geophysical exploration companies and considered himself a scientist. He mentored young David, whose successful career has largely been in the health care field. David’s company, Caris Life Sciences, and his and Kathy’s Caris Foundation, work together to bring health and hope to people around the world. The couple sees potential synergy between their aspirations and the work their alma mater does to prepare students for graduate school and careers in science and health professions.
April (Bullock ’89) Anthony remembers sneaking with friends into the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building being constructed on campus while she was a senior, never imagining her success in business would allow her 25 years later to enable other major facilities to transform the campus she loves. She met former Wildcat golfer Mark Anthony (’86) on a blind date negotiated by her late father, Joe Bullock. The couple married in 1991, and today, their $30 million commitment allows ACU to plan for significant science and athletics facilities, and benefit the College of Business Administration (COBA) where they, like the Halberts, both once studied.
An ACU trustee, April is CEO of Encompass Home Health and Homecare Homebase, both of which she founded. Mark Anthony is senior vice president for sales and marketing of Homecare Homebase, and is a founding board member of the Encompass Cares Foundation, which supports worldwide medical mission efforts.
Kay Onstead saw April the day she was born, having been present in the hospital waiting room when Joe and Jo Lynn Bullock’s daughter arrived in 1967. When April and Mark marrried, they entered a circle of friends that included Mark’s parents, Jim and Jane Anthony, and the Onsteads. Kay’s late husband, Robert, was a legendary Houston and Dallas businessman, respected community leader, church elder and devoted father. His and Kay’s leadership – and leadership gifts – have helped build Teague Special Events Center, Hunter Welcome Center Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and scholarship and faculty endowments in the College of Biblical Studies and the College of Business Administration.
Five million dollars of Mark and April’s $30 million gift benefits the Robert R. Onstead Center for Science and Humanities, to which Kay is contributing an additional $10 million. The Anthonys’ generosity also includes $15 million for Wildcat Stadium, ACU’s first on-campus football game venue since A.B. Morris Stadium in the 1950s. Mark and April are providing another $7 million for COBA and $3 million in undesignated funds.
The numbers are remarkable and unprecedented in their scope. The construction projects will build three science facilities and two on-campus stadiums while changing the north and south ends of campus in ways that will energize students, faculty, staff and alumni; attract new students and other visitors; build community; and hopefully, inspire others to similar philanthropy. It’s the start of a new day at ACU, with cheers raining down in Moody Coliseum this morning at the news.
“From my perspective, it started with one man, Dean Walling. And that one man passed it on to his daughter, who passed it on to my family, and I think that defines ACU,” said David Halbert. “That’s why you have so many families who have had three, four, five generations that have attended the university with the hope and belief they could support one another, lift up one another, so they can pass it on to the next generation. That’s what I’m hoping to be a part of.”
“We got to the place where we are today as a university because of generation after generation who supported the consistent mission of ACU,” said April Anthony. “We’re excited to be part of that next generation of giving back to an ACU, to a university that gave so much to us.”
Twenty million dollars remains to be raised on the $75 million “Vision in Action” initiative but three families have stepped forward in a big way. That’s how colleges become universities, and for generations, how this one A.B. Barret founded in 1906 has grown in size, reputation and influence.
Perhaps it was the presence of an ESPN crew, broadcasting games from Moody Coliseum to a nationwide audience Jan. 25 for the first time ever. Maybe it was the Chapel credit for attending. It could just be a new-found, long-overdue interest once more in basketball.
Whether one or all three, the re-emergence of students sitting (or standing, actually) in Section F at men’s and women’s basketball games at ACU is a welcome sight for coaches and players, and a pain in the neck for opponents.
ACU roundball is making a resurgence on the Hill, and that has a lot to do with it. Women’s head coach Julie Goodenough and men’s head coach Joe Golding (’99) have teams that are competitive every game. Their teams have turned in upsets (women’s basketball vs. Texas Tech) or near-upsets (men’s basketball vs. TCU) and the talent on the floor each game has made watching games fun again for Wildcat fans. Goodenough and Golding have coaching experience for other NCAA Division I programs and know well the effect a Game Day crowd, led by an enthusiastic student section, can have on opponents, and sometimes, the outcome of a game.
“The energy students bring to the game is contagious,” Golding said. “It makes our players realize they are playing for more than just themselves, they are playing for their university and the student body. It changes everything inside Moody Coliseum and makes it difficult for our opponent.”
Most universities have sections of inspired students who act out (or up, at times). Golding and his team team saw that earlier this season with the Wolf Pack at St. Bonaventure University in New York, in particular.
Duke University is the acknowledged originator of such behavior. Cameron Indoor Stadium is the home of the Cameron Crazies, who camp outside for days to acquire a ticket to the 1,200-seat section near the court where they cheer with abandon their beloved Blue Devils. Crazies invented the derisive cheer of “Air Ball, Air Ball” in 1975 to serenade an opponent whose shot attempt hits neither backboard, rim nor net. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has to remind his faithful to “Stay Classy” each year, as he deplores profanity, but the clever students find ways to circumvent some strict guidelines laid down by the university and still get their humor – and point – across.
Along with inventing the “Air Ball” chant, there have been countless memorable moments from the Crazies. UNC guard Jeff Hale, who had suffered from a collapsed lung, heard “In-Hale, Ex-Hale” all game and when Roy Williams made his debut as UNC’s coach at Cameron in 2004, many students dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz and set up a makeshift yellow brick road outside the opponent locker room to let Williams know he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. ESPN.com’s Page 2 staff compiled a top 10 list of Crazies’ exploits in 2002 that include the Hale chants among others including yelling “Urkel, Urkel,” as a skinny Lehigh player with knee-high socks and goggles went to the free throw line. Shaquille O’Neal was a target of several chants on his visit to Cameron [Alternating “Shaq can’t dunk” and “Boomshaqalackalacka”] and even Grant Hill’s parents weren’t above the cheers when the Crazies begged them to have “One more kid.” Other than those in trouble with the law, another favorite target of the Crazies are the shorter players on other teams. The “Webster” chants have been yelled at several players and likely started with 5-3 Muggsy Bouges from Wake Forest. A 5-7 player from the Australian National Team during an exhibition contest heard “Shrimp on the Barbee” chants.
“Duke’s crowd may or may not be the best student section,” writes Blue Devils’ sportwriter Al Featherston, “but it is the standard by which all others are measured.”
Section F thrived during the era of Wildcat men’s basketball when Mike Martin was head coach. From 1984-85 to 1987-88, the Wildcats averaged nearly 19 wins a season, won three Lone Star Conference titles, made two NCAA regional tournament appearances, and won 44 consecutive home games. Section F expanded to Sections E and G as well, as students made life miserable for opponents, and they always seemed to save their best for longtime nemesis West Texas A&M.
A capacity crowd of 4,300 watched ACU beat the Buffs on Feb. 28, 1987, for their third straight LSC championship, and even ACU president Dr. William J. Teague (’52) got in the act, leading Section F cheers at halftime. The fans chanted “Taco Bell, Taco Bell,” to taunt the maroon-and-yellow-clad Buffs whose warmup suits and uniforms were reminiscent of the Mexican food eatery’s wait-staff. WTA&M head coaches Gary Moss and Mark Adams were targets of Section F’s heckling, as were their players.
The antics were all in fun, and sometimes they strayed a bit too far for the dean of students’ comfort or general civility, but Section F’s brand of unique enthusiasm was contagious.
Sophomore Bryan Maier, a mathematics-teaching major from St. Louis, Mo., brings a lot of hard work and energy to organizing the cheering section. Student volunteers set an Optimist on the back of each chair back for use during the introduction of the opponent’s starting lineup (“Who’s he?” they scream in unison between pretending to read the student newspaper); distribute posters, pompoms and T-shirts; organize cheers; and clean up afterward. Maier said the posters alone can take up to three hours to prepare before each home game, which they promote through social media and word of mouth.
“We want Moody to be the hardest place for opposing teams to win in the Southland Conference,” said Maier. Section F organizers do not tolerate profanity or sexist or racist comments, but Maier said one of their goals is to have fun and still get under the skin of opposing teams. “We get lots of compliments from our men’s and women’s teams – players and coaches – and everybody has been appreciative of the support we’re trying to provide.”
“Seeing the revival of Section F and the increase in student interest at basketball games is a great boost to our programs and the atmosphere we want for Game Day,” said ACU athletics director Jared Mosley (’00). “I’m grateful to the student leadership and to the Students’ Association and Rodney Johnson (junior finance major from Odessa, Texas, and SA executive vice president) for their support of and hard work to help engage our student body. There are so many organizations on campus and partnerships with other departments throughout the year that have made this a true team effort. Having a home-court advantage through excited fans is a huge encouragement to the young men and women representing ACU.”
Section F is not yet ready to be mistaken for Duke’s legendary student section, but their energy is a welcome sight and sound in Moody once again.