The 5th Quarter

 

            For almost all my life, after the age of three, I have been associated with Wake Forest, either as a kid growing up on the old campus in Wake Forest, North Carolina, moving with my family to the new campus in Winston-Salem in 1956, going to school there in the sixties Except for a brief respite in Chapel Hill for three years of law school, I have been devoted to all things “old gold and black”. 

 

            I remember the fall of 2006, when our football team started winning and amazingly didn’t stop until we beat Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville, Florida.  I couldn’t help but remember when I was in school, we had the longest losing streak of football programs in the nation. The band used to play the fight song when we made a first down.

 

            But that is not the story here or the purpose of writing this note.  In February, 2006, a young man, not quite fifteen years old, Luke Abbate, the younger brother of a Wake Forest football player Jon Abbate, was tragically killed when another teenager, driving some boys home from high school football practice, crashed his car after driving more than 90 miles an hour.  Jon did not want to play football any more.  But he finally decided to play that fall, and his parents attended every game.

 

            At the end of each game’s 3rd quarter, he would look for his parents in the stands and raise one hand with all five fingers extended.  His parents did the same back to him.  You see, the number “five” was Luke’s high school number, a number Jon now wore for Wake Forest. 

 

            It wasn’t long before more and more fans, and eventually most everyone in the stadium did the same, including the players on the other team.  And Wake continued to win…even after losing through injuries a number of their best players.  It was as if the 4th Quarter belonged to them.

 

            And now there is a movie named “The 5th Quarter” which just recently premiered at the Long Island International Film Expo. It is set to be released this fall.  The physical setting for much of the movie is Wake Forest, and it is a film in part about football. But it is of course much more than that.  It is the story of rising from the ashes of tragedy and making something good come out of it all…not the winning of games, but the winning of life.  You can check out a brief clip of the movie by going to the Wake Forest website that is www.wfu.edu.

 

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