The period from February to July, 1983 was, in hindsight, the most pivotal five month period in my life. Most of my career direction and life trajectory came from the events of this time....
It began with a shocking and complete surprise when I was named to a lead role in my first-ever high school musical, "The 1940's Radio Hour", the story of a rundown New York City radio station trying to get ready to produce its Christmas spectacular in late 1942 during World War II.
Walking into Webb Auditorium cast as the host/producer of the show was a daunting task as I was surrounded onstage by juniors and seniors with ages upon ages of experience. I drank it all in, tried not to be in awe of my fellow actors and actresses, and hit the ground running.
A couple of weeks later, I participated in my first-ever Central Region forensics competition in the Original Oratory category, parlaying a love of college basketball into an expose of the problems besetting big-time athletics in the early 1980s (which seem somewhat faint compared to today's multi-billion dollar behemoth that is the NCAA).
I was stunned when I was named second place winner in the category, which meant a trip to the State Championships at UVA a few weeks later.
In the meantime, my beloved North Carolina State Wolfpack were about to embark on a little journey of their own. Having just gotten guard Dereck Whittenburg back from a foot injury suffered against Ralph Sampson and Virginia several weeks earlier, the Pack went to the ACC Tournament the #4 seed, but, in reality, needing to win the whole thing in Atlanta in order to punch a ticket to the then-52 team field of the NCAA Tournament.
And there is where we pick up the story.....
Friday, March 11, 1983: A typical 10th grade Friday at Patrick Henry High (sans all of those roofs they have today...hee hee), where I sat in my final class of the day wondering how my Wolfpack, who had a 2pm tip against Wake Forest, were doing.
Remember, kids, no Twitter, no Smartphones, no internet, no WatchESPN app.
The school day ended, I got on the bus for the long hour ride home to Beaverdam, and.....
.....lookie what we had here. Somehow, someone managed to have a 5 inch, battery-operated black and white TV on the bus. And, better still, our driver let it play. :)
NC State beat Wake the previous weekend 130-89.....but NOTHING came easy in the post-season. I watched frantically as the Pack hit critical free throws down the stretch to begin what we all know now as "Survive and Advance", a 71-70 win that set up a match in Saturday's semis against Jordan, Perkins, and North Carolina, the defending National Champions.
See you tomorrow, from the living room in the parsonage in Beaverdam.