Berry Academy Basketball TeamMembers of the 1964-65 Berry Academy Falcons basketball team returned to campus in December to commemorate the golden anniversary of one of the greatest seasons in Berry history.

Fifty years ago, these men dominated their competition as one of the most formidable high school basketball teams in Georgia. Thriving under the strict leadership of head coach Jerry Shelton (58C), the Falcons soared to a 30-5 record that included a 17-game winning streak to start the season, a four-game sweep of the Rome News-Tribune Invitational Basketball Tournament (now called the Holiday Festival), and a seven-overtime win over Cartersville that propelled them into the state tournament for a second consecutive season.

Five decades later, the bonds of brotherhood that made them such a powerful unit were still evident as team members, fellow alumni and friends gathered for a reunion luncheon in the Berry Alumni Center. Later, the Falcons took the court together once more to be honored before a packed house at Berry’s own Cage Center during halftime of the final game of the 2014 Holiday Festival tournament.

Jerry SheltonThe players were effusive in their praise of Shelton, a standout athlete during his college days at Berry who went on to a distinguished career as an educator and administrator, eventually serving as director of the basketball tournament he’d won as a coach at Berry Academy. They also remembered his late wife, Joyce (63C), the team’s “greatest, most loyal” cheerleader.

With obvious respect and good humor, they painted a picture of a man meticulous in nature, rigorous in his training methods and creative in his coaching. Jerry Chastain (65A), for example, recalled a practice in which Shelton armed defenders with tennis racquets to help his shooters prepare for a particularly tall opponent.

“He made us winners,” declared team captain Tom Butler (65A). “He taught us that we were worthwhile and powerful, to shoot beyond what we thought were our limits, that we were somebody because we were men of Berry. And because of this, we found out who we really, truly could become.”

Bill McWhorter (65A, 69C) added, “Through [Shelton's] guidance and with a student body that supported a team that loved to play basketball and loved each other, we were able to make the Berry schools proud, not just the high school but the college as well. It’s an honor for me to say that I’m a graduate from Berry Academy, and I was a member of the greatest team ever.”

The reunion was spearheaded by Bob Williams (62H) and his wife, Kay.

More on the 1964-65 Berry Academy Falcons.

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Jeff JahnJeff Jahn (07C) describes himself as an “insatiable digital enthusiast and entrepreneur,” but rising star also applies. DynamiX, the company he founded in 2005 while a sophomore at Berry, has grown into one of the most respected website development companies in Atlanta, last fall earning seven international Davey Awards for creative excellence. He’s also co-founded several funded start-ups including Home Elephant, Dwellio and Think App Studio. His work has been featured by numerous national media outlets, and he remains engaged with Berry, routinely sharing his expertise with current students. You can bet we will be hearing more about him in the future!

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Collin McHughCollin McHugh (09c) enters 2015 as one of the hottest pitchers in Major League Baseball after capping his first season with the Houston Astros as the No. 4 finisher in American League Rookie of the Year balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. McHugh posted an 11-9 record in 25 starts for Houston, leading the Astros with 157 strikeouts and tallying a sparkling 2.73 earned run average, best in the majors for first-year pitchers who threw a minimum of 150 innings.

The first Berry player to reach the majors returned to his old stomping grounds in mid-January for a quick visit with longtime Vikings coach David Beasley and current players. Soon it’ll be off to the Astros’ spring-training home in Kissimmee, Fla., to begin preparations for the new season. Look for more on McHugh’s amazing journey in the next issue of Berry magazine, due out in February. In the meantime, let us be the first to say PLAY BALL!

McHugh’s blog.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Astros

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Berry BeautyNational lawn care blog LawnStarter has affirmed Berry’s scenic reputation with the No. 1 ranking on its list of the 10 Best-Landscaped Colleges in the South. Other schools making the cut included the University of Georgia, Florida State University, Texas A&M and Emory University. The criteria included amount of green space, prevalence and uniqueness of landscape installations, and attention given to lawns and landscapes. Lauding its size, natural beauty and ornate landscaping, the writer concluded that “Berry College is well deserving of the No. 1 best landscaped college in the South.” We heartily agree!

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications student assistant

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Holden Wilbanks: Berry BeesAs a business major, junior Holden Wilbanks never thought he would need to worry about getting stung on a regular basis.

A double major in management and economics, Wilbanks has always had an interest in entrepreneurship and a desire to start his own business. Through the student Work Experience Program, he is now CEO of Berry Bees, one of 14 student-operated enterprises on the Berry campus.

“As far as getting stung goes, I’m pretty confident in my bee suit. I have only been stung a couple of times, so it protects me pretty well,” he said.

Wilbanks haHolden Wilbanksndles all the administrative duties of the enterprise including product deliveries, customer relationships and hive management. The enterprise program hones skills such as leadership, professionalism, public speaking and others necessary in the post-graduation workplace.

“I think it is so important to work at Berry because you need to find value in what you do. Every job on Berry’s campus is meaningful and fulfills an important role,” he said.

Every student at Berry has the opportunity to work regardless of family income, and more than 95 percent of students take that opportunity.

In addition to his work with Berry Bees, Wilbanks serves as a spokesperson for the enterprise program, sharing information with groups such as Leadership Georgia, the Berry College Board of Trustees and Berry Alumni Council.

By Nic Diaz, student public relations assistant

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Fall GraduatesThe Berry alumni family welcomed approximately 60 new members at fall commencement. Speakers included Tyler Julian (14C), a double major in management and marketing, and Dr. Bob Frank, assistant professor and longtime chair in the Department of Communication.

Bob FrankFrank, who will be retiring after spring semester, delivered an entertaining and inspiring message to the graduates. With characteristic wit, he focused on those things he’d like them to forget, as well as one very important thing he hopes they will remember.

“I do want you to forget about the lesser worries in life immediately in front of you,” he implored. “I do want you to forget about racing to the pinnacle of success in your life, and I do want you to forget about your major determining your future. All that I ask you today is that you not forget that, at Berry, you got one of the best educations a college graduate could ever want, and I hope you … make the most of it.”

This was Berry’s last December commencement, as fewer students are opting for a fall graduation.

Additional coverage.

View the ceremony.

By Carey Blankenship, philanthropic communications student assistant

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Viking FusionStudents representing Viking Fusion and the Department of Communication made waves again last fall, earning recognition in a trio of national contests. Berry received a total of six nominations, winning two Pinnacle Awards (presented by the College Media Association) for The Takeover, an audio thriller by sophomore communication major Michael Shaw.

Other nominations (listed by contest) included:

EPPY Awards
(presented by Editor & Publisher)

National Student Production Awards
(presented by College Broadcasters Inc.)

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications student assistant

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Berry Model United NationsBerry’s Model United Nations team did fantastic work at November’s Southern Regional Model United Nations Conference in Atlanta. Students from more than 60 colleges and universities provided representation for 77 different countries during the various simulations. The Berry team split into delegations for two countries, Germany and Argentina. The students representing Germany fared particularly well, claiming one of 10 position paper awards for pre-conference research and one of five distinguished delegation awards for their work in committee.

By Carey Blankenship, philanthropic communications student assistant

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Berry Bell RingersBerry student-athletes know what the Christmas spirit is all about. For 12 days in December, representatives of the college’s 20 varsity teams took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer as bell-ringers for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. This marked the second consecutive year that Berry student-athletes have volunteered in this way. In that time, they have collected more than $13,000 – second among all groups serving in the Rome area – while volunteering hundreds of hours in support of the campaign.

The student-athletes’ involvement in the Red Kettle campaign resulted in one of two service awards presented to Berry by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators. Also honored was the softball team’s 2014 “Pink Day” effort, which raised more than $5,000 to fight cancer.

Story by Carey Blankenship, philanthropic communications student assistant; photo by student Blake Childers

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Old MillIn the most recent edition of the Alumni Accent poll, we asked you to weigh in on your favorite outdoor activities at Berry. The No. 1 answer was hiking to the reservoir with 35% of the vote. Next with 22% was taking it easy (you’ll get no argument from us!), followed by walking/jogging on the Viking Trail and horseback riding (each with 11%). Intramural sports (8%), mountain biking (5%), ropes courses (5%) and disc golf (3%) rounded out the list.

For our first poll of 2015, we’ve decided to focus on the iconic landmarks of the Berry campus, one of which recently showed up on the cover of  Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget report. The photo, taken by Georgia artist George Hernandez, was selected to hang in the Office of the Governor as part of “The Art of Georgia” rotating exhibit. Visit www.gaarts.org for more information.

Scroll to the blog footer to vote for your favorite Berry landmark.

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