May 18, 2006

Senior utility man Grant Achilles has played his final home game at Gene Hooks Stadium. And as the baseball season begins to wind down, so will the Achilles love affair with Wake Forest - at least in body, but certainly not in spirit.

Grant is the last in the line of the Achilles brothers who have made their mark on Demon Deacon baseball.

It all started with Dr. Chad Achilles, an Atlanta physician, in the early 1990's. Chad's interest in medicine brought him to Wake Forest in 1992 where he was involved with the Deacs as a student trainer for the baseball team as part of his work study. He also helped out with the team as a volunteer as a sophomore before his class load in pre-med forced him to focus solely on academics.

But the door was cracked, and Chad's two younger brothers would soon be Deacons, too.

During Chad's freshman season as a student trainer with the Deacs, Wake and Virginia played a game at Lynchburg's City Stadium, home to the Lynchburg Red Sox. Two youngsters were asked to be bat boys for the Deacons that night - Todd and Grant Achilles.

When it came time for second brother Todd, a local Lynchburg baseball standout, to choose where he wanted to attend college - there was only one choice. Todd came to Wake Forest and hoped he could be on the baseball team. During his sophomore year, he made the team as a walk-on and now has two ACC championship rings to brag about with Chad and Grant.

Brothers will be brothers.

Grant was soon to follow his brothers to Winston-Salem, completing a 3-for-3 for the Achilles boys. Grant has seen it all during his tenure with the Deacs.

"It's really been a family experience," says the youngest Achilles, who knows a little about family. "Starting with my freshman year up until now I've loved all of the guys and it's been a great experience. But it has been a rollercoaster ride. In 2002 we played in the NCAA Regionals, and that has been the pinnacle of my baseball career to date. But then we took a nosedive, and things just weren't coming together. Now we're getting back to where we have a little swagger like Wake Forest baseball is supposed to have."

And through the ups and downs in the Deacon dugout since Grant's arrival on the Wake baseball scene, he's also had to handle physical injury and personal loss.

"I've torn my knee up, I've had hand surgery and I've lost my father," Achilles said. "But through all of it, one thing has remained consistent - win or lose, on or off the field, we've always remained a family. And that's what I'd like to call my Wake Forest baseball experience."

As early as age 9, Grant Achilles was exposed to Wake Forest baseball. By the time he got to high school the Deacs were in his blood.

And we all know how thick blood is.

"Wake is the only placed I even considered when picking a school," says Achilles. "I saw the tradition. I saw the excellence that was here, and I feel like I've been a part of the family since Chad was here. And whether it's been as a younger brother or a player, I just keep getting closer and closer to this place."

And we are better for the Achilles having been here. A tip of the cap to Chad, Todd, Grant, Marie and Doug. You have all taught us just how much family matters.

Spring Game