Wolfpack Club gets members excited for basketball season

Lindsay CravenStaff Writer

September 12, 2012

Myers Auction House in East Bend was decked out in red on Sept. 6.

The Yadkin County chapter of the North Carolina State University Wolfpack Club gathered to celebrate the athletic programs at NC State and let alumni and supporters meet and discuss the upcoming year with the men’s and women’s basketball coach and the rifle team coach.

The NC State Student Aid Association or Wolfpack Club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It began in 1936 as a fundraising method for NC State athletics. The organization provides financial support for student athlete scholarships and athletic facility improvements.

A recent Forbush High graduate was in attendance to show the club where their donations and club fees go. Jessica Baity is one of the newest Wolfpack soccer team members and is attending the university on an athletic scholarship funded through the Wolfpack Club.

“It’s an absolute honor to represent Yadkin County at NC State,” Baity said. “I’ve always been playing soccer and other sports and I’ve always wanted to do something with it and God really blessed me by allowing me to go to NC State. Getting to play in a big environment and getting to represent Yadkin County is more than I could have ever asked for.”

Baity said that she started playing soccer at five years old when her cousin introduced her to the sport. Soccer was a family affair for Baity for many years until she started joining teams.

“It was a family thing really and we just played on weekends,” Baity said. “As [my sister and I] got older it got more serious and we started traveling…I got to play for the Forbush High School team and my sophomore year of I started getting recruited by different colleges and when NC State called me I said ‘Absolutely, I’m so there’.”

Baity was able to line up her teaching fellow, class and soccer schedule and realized that NC State was going to be the choice for her. It also didn’t hurt that her father was a NC State alumnus.

Baity said that her experience on the team has been a positive one so far.

“Coming in as a freshman is always interesting experience because you get to join in with the team dynamic and see where you’re going to fit in,” Baity said. “It’s a lot to balance school and friends and being in a new place and college athletics but it’s been an awesome experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wolpack Club members also got the opportunity to discuss the upcoming seasons for

NC State basketball and rifle teams. Women’s basketball coach Kelly Harper was on hand to share what was in store for the team.

“We feel like we could have the best team we’ve had in four years,” Harper said. “We need a little luck, who doesn’t? We only have 11 players on our roster but we feel really good about those players.”

Harper also share information about her newest team members to get the Wolfpack Club members excited about the upcoming season.

“We only have one freshman and she is from Texas,” Harper said. “She’s a great teammate and she’s a winner. She won two state championships in Texas. The kid understands basketball and she’s very smart; she’s going to do some great things for our team.”

Then Harper moved on to the clear favorite recruit of the year.

“The other kid ya’ll, she’s six foot four, 257 pounds of muscle and her hands are bigger than your plates,” Harper said. “She’s everything and more than we expected. Just watching her and being with her in workouts has been tremendous and she will make a huge difference because we’ve not had that presence before.”

Rifle team coach Keith Miller took the microphone next to confirm that NC State did indeed have a rifle team and lead the crowd through an entertaining yes or no test that addressed questions he’d actually received about the team.

Miller informed the crowd that the team does in fact exist and that team members do receive scholarships thanks to the club, the team does not twirl rifles and they don’t use squirrel guns.

“The events we shoot are just like the events they shoot in the Olympics,” Miller said. “We shoot three positions and we shoot with .22 rifles.”

Miller also shared that the team also has women members and that those women team members were just as good as the male members.

“It’s not exactly half and half but it’s close,” Miller said. “I believe it was two years ago at the championships there were seven women and one guy in the top eight. The guy was in first place with seven women to his right. That man had some pressure on him.”

Finally, men’s basketball head coach Mark Gottfried took the lead. He shared that the team recently returned from a trip to Spain.

“I will tell you that not only did our players get to play but it was great for our players culturally, they really liked it,” Gottfried said. “I think what they liked most was that we went down to the beaches there and we didn’t realize it right away but the beaches were topless and we couldn’t get the guys off the beach.”

After a few laughs, Gottfried got down to the business of discussing the season ahead.

“We’ve recruited a lot of really good players but our team will be much different because we lost some maturity and we’re replacing them with some guys who haven’t played a lot. We have to get better and then we have to find a way to replace that age that we lost.”

Gottfried share that ESPN plans to do a live broadcast of College Gameday on the campus on the day of NC State’s game against Carolina.

“Our students will be there and it should be a really fun day all the way to the game at 7 p.m.,” Gottfried said. “We’ll also be having our own version of midnight madness, it’s called Primetime with the Pack and it will be our first official practice. ESPN is going to televise it live. They only pick five schools around the country and we’re one of the five. It’s a great night for exposure for our program and our university.”

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.com.