Oct 16 / jmusport

Guest Post: JMU Sports Memories From a Lifelong JMU Fan

Another week, another terrific guest post. This week it comes to us courtesy of Jeff, who won the most recent prediction contest. Here’s his fun look back at a lifetime of JMU sports memories.

Wow! What an awesome 4th Quarter! The Dukes allowed me to nail the final score with my prediction of 38-24. My 15 year old son, Philip, and I predict the scores with each other every week. Philip’s prediction was dead in the 3rd quarter (JMU 24-21.)  Mine was still alive but I was not too confident going into the 4th! Daka, Dinucci to Polk, MJ Hampton pick 6 and welcome to stardom Latrele Palmer! Next thing you know, I am celebrating and writing this blog. By the way, a lot of luck goes into this picking. Last week, I predicted JMU 31-13 over Stony Brook (no where close!)

So, who is your guest blogger? I am a former townie. My parents (Jack ’68 and Mary Lynne) moved to Harrisonburg so Dad could attend JMU after getting out of the Army. I was born at Rockingham Memorial Hospital (now Student Success Center), took my first steps in Shorts Hall (Dad was in charge of men’s housing) and learned how to swim in Keezell Hall. I grew up watching JMU football games on the hill (including watching a guy come down the gully in a canoe with a keg selling beers to people for a $1!) and we played football on Godwin Field during the games (now F lot where we tailgate-come join us!) My dad was the scoreboard operator at football games and official scorekeeper at all JMU basketball games for almost 40 years (retired in 2017) and my mom worked at JMU for 27 years. I was lucky enough to attend all the JMU Men’s Basketball NCAA tournament games in the 1980’s.

In high school, I still attended all JMU sports in between my own games. There were lots of JMU connections but my favorite was guarding future JMU basketball superstar and coach Kenny Brooks. I did score on Kenny but who won the match up? Let’s just say there is a reason Kenny Brooks is a legend and I played intramurals! Future JMU baseball player and VT Athletic Director, Whit Babcock also played in those games. At JMU, I had an awesome experience and was lucky enough to live with 2 JMU football players, Keith Johnson and Jermel Harris. I can tell you first hand how hard it is to be a D-1 athlete. Please remember how hard our athletes work to juggle school and classes when we cheer them on. I was also blessed to work all 4 years in Sports Information with Gary Michael, Milla Sue Wisecarver, David Taylor and the now famous voice of JMU Madizone, Curt Dudley. They were all great professionals and taught me so many life lessons.

A few highlights of being a JMU Grad—I proposed to my wife, Beth, on the kissing rock on the quad in 1995. We have been married 23 years and have 4 kids who all know the JMU fight song and have grown to love JMU. I have stayed involved with JMU by serving in roles like Alumni Board President, Duke Club Board and our latest is serving on the JMU Parent’s Council (Caroline ’23 is a 3rd generation Duke!).

I thought I would give you my Top 10 favorite JMU sports memories as a lifelong Dukes fan–

  1. JMU-UNC Men’s Basketball game in 1982 NCAA – Bittersweet game but great to see JMU on the National Stage. Yes, I was one of the folks throwing toilet paper on the floor. I hope the statute of limitations is up for any punishment. Still feel bad about our cheerleader getting hit.
  2. 1990 JMU crushes UR in Midnight Madness game at JMU; only home basketball game I did not work in my 4 years at JMU.
  3. 2004 Football National Championship with my Dad. He taught and coached defensive star, Akeem Jordan. They hugged after the game on the field and it still makes me smile!
  4. 2008 JMU beating Appalachian State in football 35-32 at JMU…probably most exciting game ever!
  5. 2016 JMU Football National Championship in Frisco with my then 13 year old son, Philip
  6. 2016 JMU vs. LSU softball regional. Attended with my Dad and Philip; electric atmosphere
  7. 2018 JMU National Championship for Women’s Lacrosse-watched with all 4 of my kids. Thanks to Rob for the preseason interview on JMU Sports Blog Podcast. He asked Coach Klaes-Bawcombe if the Final Four was her goal for the season. She did not miss a beat and said yes. This made me follow the team and what an awesome ride (I am still not sure I know all the rules but I will cheer loudly! 
  8. Both JMU College Game Days with my family but 2017 was better since we won! Caroline went on her JMU tour that day—great day to be there for a tour!
  9. 2019 JMU beating Villanova on Parent’s Weekend. First time I have been to JMU as a Parent for Parent’s Weekend—awesome to create new memories with Caroline
  10. Favorite Weekend—Dec. 1994—met my wife’s (then girlfriend’s) parents as we helped her move into a new apartment in Richmond. They wanted to take me out to lunch, dinner or brunch. But I declined as I was the host of the JMU watch party for the JMU-Marshall football game in Richmond. We lost a heartbreaker but played great. I then hopped in the car and went to Harrisonburg to watch JMU beat Purdue and Glenn Big Dog Robinson at the Convo. The next day I went to UVA and saw us lose to UVA in the Sweet 16 in Men’s soccer. My future in-laws thought I was very nice but maybe a little obsessed with JMU. Well, 25 years later, I am still happily married to Beth (a W & M grad but has learned to love JMU) and I am still a crazy JMU fan.

Finally, a huge heartfelt thanks to Todd and Rob for all they do to promote JMU. I now challenge you the reader – what can you do to make JMU greater? Here are some ideas:  Go to a JMU Alumni or Duke Club event. Offer to mentor a JMU student or alumnus. Most of all, consider donating to JMU. We are in need of more scholarship money to continue to attract top-notch students. Wear your purple as often as you can to be an ambassador for JMU!
Go Dukes! I hope to see you in Harrisonburg or Frisco where we will create some awesome new memories.

One Comment

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  1. Don Earman / Oct 18 2019

    I share most of the football and basketball experiences with you. I even learned to swim in Keezell Hall in the early 1960’s. I remember ice skating on Newman Lake in the early 1960’s.

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