Marvin "Skeeter" Francis
Names like Bob Bartholomew, Jack Murdock, Brian Piccolo and Len Chappell are familiar to every Wake Forest fan. The exploits of these former athletes and many others during the 1950s and 1960s were recorded, publicized and promoted by Marvin "Skeeter" Francis, who gave his life to intercollegiate athletics - first as a sports information director at Wake Forest, then as service bureau director and assistant commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
One of the most popular and highly respected individuals in his field, Francis served as the Demon Deacon sports information director from 1955 until 1969. During that time, his efforts led to All-America recognition for four Wake Forest football players, including Bartholomew and Piccolo. Twenty-five Deacons were named first team All-ACC and three head coaches were honored as league Coach of the Year during that time.
In basketball, his list of accomplishments as a publicist included All-Americans Murdock and Chappell, along with 11 all-conference first team performers and three ACC Coach of the Year selections.
Francis, who attended Wake Forest in the early 1940s prior to entering the United State military, became service bureau director of the ACC in 1969. As the league's chief public relations official, he contributed significantly to the growth of the conference on the national level. His work as director of the ACC Tournament in basketball established standards for dealing with the media that have been adopted by other conferences and the NCAA.
Francis' association with the ACC began as a sportswriter, and ultimately, assistant sports editor of the Durham Morning Herald covering the inaugural ACC Tournament in 1954.
A past president of CoSIDA, the national organization of college sports information directors, Francis has also served on the board of directors of the Football Writers of American and the U.S. Basketball Writers. He retired form his position with the ACC in 1990 but remained active in assisting the league and the Wake Forest sports information office with a variety of special projects.
He was inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 25, 1995. He was also inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame as well as the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame for Sports Information Directors.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Sports Media Association began the annual Marvin "Skeeter" Francis award in 1990 recognizing individuals for distinguished service to the ACC. He was also a member of the CoSIDA Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Francis was born January 10, 1922 and passed away on July 6, 2004.
Arnold Palmer, Curtis Strange, Jay Haas - and Gary Hallberg. These are the four Demon Deacons who have captured the individual crown of the NCAA Championship. Hallberg earned his title in 1979 at the Wake Forest-hosted event at Bermuda Run while leading the Deacs to a third-place national team finish. While that was perhaps his single most outstanding accomplishment at Wake, it was by no means the only one.
After winning a state high school championship in his home state of Illinois, Hallberg joined the WFRU program in the fall of 1976. He won three tournaments as a freshman and earned a spot on the 1977 Walker cup team. Four more individual event titles came his way in 1978 and 1979 (two each year), along with back-to-back North -South Amateur Championships. As a senior in 1980, Hallberg added ACC medalist honors, thereby earning his fourth straight all-conference selection.
Hallber, who is also one of six former Deacon golfers to win the Arnold Palmer Award as the school's top male athlete (he received that honor in 1979), turned his attention to the professional tour after completing his career at Wake Forest. He made an immediate impact by being named the PGA's Rookie of the Year by Golf Digest magazine. In his second pro outing, he finished tied for third in the Quad Cities Open.
Overall, Hallberg has won three tour events including the 1983 Isuzu-Andy Williams San Diego Open, the 1987 Greater Milwaukee Open and the 1992 Buick Southern Open. He carded a pair of top-10 finishes in majors, finishing tied for sixth at 1984 PGA Championship and the 1985 Masters.
He was one of 12 Wake Forest golfers recognized on the ACC's 50th Anniversary men's golf team in 2002.
Hallberg was born May 31, 1958 in Berwyn, Ill. He resides in Castle Rock, Colo.
Jackson attended Wake Forest for non-athletic purposes. She was a Carswell Scholar who was attracted by the school's size and academic reputation. Once on campus, she became familiar with the women's basketball program and was encouraged to try out for the squad. She would leave that program four years later having written the school record book.
Four consecutive years, the name Jane Jackson was atop the Demon Deacons statistics in scoring. Her total of 1,339 ranks her eighth on the school's all-time list, but her career average of 15.8 points per game is the second-highest by a Wake Forest player. She also served two years as team captain.
Off the court, Jackson succeeded as well and her achievements were duly recognized. In 1979, she received the June Galloway Award for excellence in athletics and scholarship from the North Carolina chapter of AIAW (the precursor to the NCAA for women's athletics). As a senior in 1980, she was the first recipient of the prestigious Marie James Scholarship from the Atlantic Coast Conference for her accomplishments as an athlete and student.
After graduating with honors, Jackson went on to law school at the University of Virginia. Now a partner with the Winston-Salem firm Robinson and Lawing, she has concentrated her practice in the area of civil litigation and is recognized as an expert in the field of employment law.
Jane Jackson was inducted in the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame on February 25, 1995.
The Barberton, Ohio native first became a Deacon in 1961. He earned prominence as a senior starting quarterback, when he and backfield mate Brian Piccolo sparked a team that had won only one game in two seasons to five victories, including four ACC wins. He was the 1964 league leader in total offense and an Academic All-ACC selection.
This ability to reverse the fortunes of football teams has been a continuous part of Mackovic's career. It was never more evident than in 1979, when in his second year as head coach of his alma mater, he guided Wake Forest to a Top-20 ranking and the Tangerine Bowl - the first postseason experience for the Deacs in three decades. For that effort, he was named national "Coach of the Year" by The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation.
Mackovic's talents as a coach were obvious and the lure of the National Football League took him to the Dallas Cowboys following the 1980 campaign. In 1983, he became head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Three years later, he led that organization to its first playoff appearance in 15 seasons.
After a year away from coaching, Mackovic returned to the college ranks as head coach at Illinois in 1988, where he took a program that had won seven games the previous two years and directed it to four consecutive winning records and four straight bowl games. He was twice named Big Ten Coach of the Year and his 1990 team was a conference co-champion. The title was Illinois' second since 1963.
Mackovic followed with a six-year stint at the University of Texas, winning a Southwest conference championship in 1995 and the Big 12 championship in 1996. His college coaching career came to a close at Arizona after the 2003 season.
John Mackovic was inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame on February 25, 1995.
The records and statistics from John Polanski's career at Wake Forest are not as complete as those from other more recent eras, but those who knew him best, this was one tremendous football player.
Before coming to Wake Forest, Polanski was a three-sport start at Riverside High School in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1936, as the Most Valuable Player on the football team, he led Riverside to an undefeated season and the city championship. When notified that Polanski had been selected to the WFU Hall of Fame, the living members of that outstanding squad issued a tribute to their former teammate.
That tribute read in part, "We will sit a little straighter as we bask in the reflected warmth of this honor, and we will say that `Johnny, you have made the old gang at Riverside awfully proud.' "
Polanski gained additional notoriety during his three-year career at Wake Forest (1939-1941). After transferring from Cornell, he received national attention as a sophomore, leading the country in scoring with 91 points, and in rushing by gaining 882 yards on just 137 carries - 6.4 yards per rush. The Deacon standout was selected as a second-team All-American that year.
There is a single-game record that has existed on the Wake Forest record book now for 71 autumns. On November 30, 1939, Polanski scored 28 points in a victory over Davidson, scoring four touchdowns and kicking four extra points. No Deacon has ever matched that one-game achievement.
As a junior, Polanski again placed in the top 10 in the country for rushing in leading the Deacs to a second straight 7-3 season. Following his senior year, he played competitively while serving in the U.S. Navy, then enjoyed a brief professional career as a fullback with both the Detroit Lions of the NFL and Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Conference.
John Polanski passed away in Ann Arbor, Michigan on March 11, 1956 after living in the Detroit area for seven years. He was inducted into the Wake Forest University Sports Hall of Fame on February 25, 1995.
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