BUIES CREEK — While her senior classmates were walking the stage and hoisting their diplomas in the air on Saturday, Campbell golfer Teresa Urquizu was in Norman, Okla. wrapping up a 19th place finish in the NCAA Regional Tournament … tops on her team.
Sarah Forgacs was playing her final softball game in the Big South Tournament, going 2-for-4 with a double and 3 runs scored.
And David Olson and Nick Ray were simply making big contributions in the nationally ranked baseball teams’ 4-2 win over Liberty to clinch the Big South North Division title and top last year’s school record with win No. 42. Olson picked up his third save of the year and Ray was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Their contributions to Campbell Athletics meant the four couldn’t make the two graduation ceremonies on Saturday, but the University awarded their sacrifice with a commencement of their own on Tuesday at Butler Chapel. With family, friends, a few teammates and their coaches on hand, Urquizu, Forgacs, Olson and Ray walked the stage, received their degrees, shook hands with Campbell President Jerry Wallace and enjoyed their big day like everyone else.
For Ray, the experience was much appreciated.
“It feels special for all of us that the University went out of its way to make this happen,” the business administration major from Gulfport, Miss., said after the ceremony. “It means a lot to all of us, and it speaks of lot to what kind of school this is. They definitely didn’t have to do this for us.”
Vice President for Student Life Dennis Bazemore said the idea for a mini-commencement for senior athletes began five years ago when three softball players had a private ceremony in Wallace’s office. A few years later, the ceremony was moved to Butler Chapel and as many as seven athletes have taken part in what is now a twice-a-year occurrence.
“[These athletes] have been ambassadors and emissaries for Campbell, and have represented the Orange and Black both at home and in distant places,” Wallace said during the ceremony. “This ceremony has become an annual part of our commencement season, because our teams have become so successful. We’re proud of you all.”
Story by Billy Liggett, photo by Bennett Scarborough