Senior discusses Wake Forest sports

Former OGB Sports Editor reflects upon Wake Forest memories


Wexler with the Demon Deacon before the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Samantha Wexler, Senior Writer

This is going to sound dramatic, but my experiences working for and being a fan of the various sports teams at Wake Forest have been the highlight of my collegiate career. It seems fitting now, with just a few more weeks before graduation, that I write one final article summarizing some of the highlights that I have experienced.

From serving as sports editor of the Old Gold & Black to interning in everything from Sports Communication to Development and Marketing, anyone who knows me probably thinks of me whenever anything remotely sports-oriented comes up. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’m thrilled to begin my career in sports working for Learfield IMG College right here in Winston-Salem. If you thought you had seen enough of me at Wake Forest sporting events, I regret to inform you that you will be seeing much more!

To start this article off, I want to highlight some of the amazing experiences that I was able to have as a student, reporter, employee and fan since the fall of 2017. For my Introduction to Journalism class in the fall of 2018, I worked out with the women’s golf team at 6 a.m. in McCreary Field House before interviewing members of the staff and a variety of players for my longest story ever.

In March 2020, I was able to work for the ACC Communications staff at the Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro for two wild days before COVID-19 shut everything down. I will genuinely never forget sitting on the press row as the tweets unfolded about Rudy Gobert, the NBA, the SEC and the Ivy League and waiting to hear about what the ACC would do.

After a sleepless night planning potential flights home, I drove to Greensboro as I normally do and, two hours later, watched the trophy be handed off to the regular-season champs, Florida State, before everyone put on a ton of hand sanitizer and zoomed away. Through my roles with sports communications, marketing, football recruiting and more, I got to attend and work so many fun games and events throughout my years on Reynolda Campus.

So, on to the sports memories we go! Looking back on my time at Wake Forest, we definitely have to begin with Coach Clawson’s football team. In addition to being their number one fan, I also had the honor of working in the recruiting office and helping to sell Wake Forest, the football program and the 40-year decision you are making when you come to one of the top academic and athletic programs in the nation. On the field, we went to four straight bowl games and I was able to attend the Belk Bowl in Charlotte in 2017 and the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium in 2019.

Clawson’s turnaround was nothing short of remarkable, as I have never experienced a losing season as an undergraduate student — and the team is 9-2 at Truist Field over the past two years. From working my first ever football game for the Sports Communication department to streaming games at 3 a.m. while studying abroad in Spain in the Fall of 2019, there was nothing better than Wake Forest football in the fall. As dreadful as this year has been as a student given COVID-19, the few football games we were able to go to in the fall were a highlight of the whole year. I will never return to my regular volume level once we don’t have to wear masks. Oops!

Looking at basketball, there were definitely some highs and lows throughout my time at Wake Forest and I am very much looking forward to the future under Coach Forbes. I will never forget the day we beat Duke in double overtime and stormed the court approximately one month before COVID-19 shut the whole world down.

Another highlight was the ACC Championship reunion night, where I was involved in honoring one of the greatest teams in Wake Forest history, including legends like Tim Duncan, Rodney Rogers and Randolph Childress. I had always wanted to meet Rodgers, as he took philosophy with my dad at Wake Forest and this has been one of the stories I remember most about my dad’s time as a Deac. Let’s just say they both were not meant to be philosophy majors, hence the office hours they bonded over.

Speaking of basketball and personal ties to the team, living in South Hall with Gina Conti and Ivana Raca and recently cheering them on in the NCAA Women’s Tournament in 2021 was yet another highlight. Those girls were always the hardest workers, and because things didn’t go their way for the first few years, seeing it come together for their senior seasons before getting drafted/graduate transferring was the cherry on top.

We can’t go any further without discussing the sheer dominance of the men’s soccer team under Head Coach Bobby Muuss throughout the past few years. Aside from Stanford (don’t get me started), this team has been one of the most dominant forces in all of college sports. Last week marked 85 consecutive weeks in the top-25 and 65 weeks in the top-10. Genuinely remarkable.

Another highlight has been watching players my age go on to do great things at the professional level. From South Hall to First Year Seminar to the MLS, it’s been fun to see Machop Chol, Justin McMaster, Omir Fernandez and more make it to the biggest stage.

The baseball team was on a winning streak when I came in as a freshman and hasn’t played as high of a level since, so if I’m a bad luck charm, I am sorry.

Anywho, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017 capped off with a Super Regional appearance in 2017 were fun to watch. I will never forget the 12-8 victory over West Virginia at the Couch during the 2017 season in which Stuart Fairchild hit multiple home runs in a single game. I feel good things happening again soon for baseball, though, given the outstanding new facilities, and how amazing the Kona Ice Truck is at the games. Hot tip, make sure you get the cream cap on top of your Kona Ice.

From field hockey making the final four in 2018 to Jennifer Kupcho winning the NCAA Tournament in golf and then the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur before leading the women’s squad to a runner-up finish, just about every sport you can think of has left me with fond memories over the years. Both the men’s and women’s golf teams have been so fun to follow, which makes sense given that Wake Forest is the home of Arnold Palmer. I have always been a big golf fan — watching with my dad since I was younger — so being able to watch the Wake Forest teams in the ACC and NCAA tournaments has been amazing, too. It’s such a special and unique experience to be able to watch players you had classes with, like Emilia Migliaccio, compete in huge tournaments such as the Augusta Junior National.

We obviously cannot forget about the sustained excellence of the men’s tennis team. Where do I even begin? They won the ACC Championship every year I have been here (except this year, sadly) and won both the ITA Championship and NCAA Championship in 2018 along with Petros Chrysochos winning the individual title in 2018, too. Not only did the Deacs take the team and individual title, but it was the first individual title in school history — and he won it by defeating teammate Borna Gojo in the finals while in Winston-Salem.

If you’ve gotten to the end of this whole stream of emotional consciousness, thank you. Thank you for reading my stories, supporting me and this amazing publication and probably following me on Twitter for the past few years. I have absolutely loved getting to meet so many people throughout my Wake Forest experience. From classmates to professors to bosses and coworkers in the athletic department and life-long friends, there are so many people that I have met who have shaped my collegiate experience and life to this point. This has gotten really sappy here, which makes sense given my refusal to admit that I will become an alumna in three weeks, but my heart genuinely is so full from the amazing four years I have had at Wake Forest.

There is nothing quite like the Demon Deacon Faithful, and I am so excited to cheer on the Deacs for many years to come. Go Deacs!