Thursday, July 26, 2007

Skip Prosser (1950-2007): Rest in Peace

It's a sad day to be a Demon Deacon. I depart from my more medieval-oriented blogging to report that Wake Forest Basketball Coach Skip Prosser passed away today, after apparently having a heart attack. I found out approximately five minutes ago, here in ZSR library. This article confirms it.

I don't know how to react -- Prosser was coach for most of my time at Wake, and he managed to pull together a team (and a school, really) still a bit lost from losing Dave Odom. I remember him as a classy guy -- he never let the fans get out of hand in the games I attended, and I know I respected him for that.

It was one of my joys, each time I was home, to see him at the nine AM mass at the church my family attends. Invariably, he was always there.

Coach Prosser had 2 sons, about 2 and 3 years older than me respectively. He was one of the best coaches Wake Forest ever had, and I know we'll all miss him. I offer my condolences to his family and friends, and know that the WFU community will remember them, and Coach Prosser in their thoughts in the coming days and weeks.

Sigh. Not a good day to be a Demon Deacon. Not a good day at all.

EditLink to Coach Prosser's Bio. He was 56 years old.

Further edit The Winston Salem Journal has an article up about Coach Prosser's death.

Further edit: I know this is an odd story to follow so closely, given that this blog is oriented toward the medieval. However, as an alumna, and someone who spends nearly all of her time at the university when there's a chance to do so, I also know how close-knit the Wake Forest community is, and I know that we're all going to feel this in the coming days and weeks. ESPN has coverage of Coach Prosser's passing, and also some beautiful tribute footage. Again, my heart goes out to his family.

Wake Forest's Press Release, and the front page at the University's Website.

Another Wake Forest Demon Deacon mourns the sudden loss of Coach Prosser. Remembers one of Coach's signature lines, too -- "Meet me on the quad at midnight" -- referencing the Wake Forest tradition of rolling the quad after a big game.

Final Edit, Sunday July 29th. Funeral plans for Coach Prosser have been announced, with the viewing Monday and funeral Tuesday evening. I found a tribute to Coach on facebookwhen I logged in today. The final picture is very moving -- at midnight, about 200 students, professors, alumni and members of the community met on the quad, to roll the quad one last time for Coach Prosser. I never really participated in that tradition -- it wasn't really me during university, to put it mildly -- but Thursday night it seemed important to be there.

It's strange to watch this community mourn a loss, and simultaneously celebrate the man who occasions such mourning. In some ways, I thought I'd left Wake Forest three years ago, and that my pilgrimages back to Reynolda campus in winter and summer were a matter of convenience only -- after all, my parents still live in here. This week, however, I realized that Wake's a bigger part of me than I knew. Friends, in town this weekend for a wedding, reminded me of the strange friendships that crop up in Wake Forest -- linking members of classes as far removed as '97, '98, and '04 -- not to mention the older generations of professors and graduates (sometimes professors who were graduates!) who have their own interconnections in addition to our little group of friends. I hate that I only realized these wonderful connections at such a sad time. But I'm grateful to have them. And in some ways, it's reassuring to know that I haven't left Wake Forest, not really -- because I take it with me, regardless of where I go.

Things will slowly return to normal on campus -- the TP on the quad is already disintegrating from the rain this weekend, and the world of college life will go on as the freshmen come to campus in a few weeks. But I know the community -- Wake Forest, Winston-Salem -- will be different from now on, though perhaps the change will in time become invisible, a sort of rift not quite seen but always felt. Skip Prosser was a man who had time for other people -- regardless of their inclination towards sports. And I hope our small community has learned the lessons Coach taught us -- most of all, never to delay gratitude. And I'd imagine that when we meet -- in person or in spirit -- on the Wake Forest quad at midnight after a game in the coming years, a part of that atmosphere will always be gratitude for a person who really did make a difference in a community. Not by saving the world -- but simply by making the place where he lived and moved a little better by his presence.

And in those moments where his quick wit or kind wisdom would have been most appreciated -- we'll always know how much Coach Prosser means to Wake Forest. And when we meet on the quad at midnight after a game -- we'll always remember, and be grateful.

And now, I return to blogging Old English and the final countdown to my exams.