Dear Demon Deacons,
This time last year, I described the 2014-15 season as “foundational” for our program, and now, as I look back on the 2015-16 season, I am extremely proud of the progress and improvement we’re seeing as we continue to strengthen that foundation.
It was an exciting year that gave us much to celebrate. In his first season as our head men’s soccer coach, Bobby Muuss, led his team to the top of the national rankings as they earned a regular season ACC title and the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They advanced to the Elite Eight before falling 2-1 in overtime to the eventual national champion.
Men’s tennis also had a remarkable season, setting a school record for wins by going 31-6, climbing to No. 5 in the nation, our program’s highest-ever ranking, and capturing their first-ever ACC Championship title by defeating No. 1 Virginia.
We also saw several teams return to the postseason this year. Women’s tennis made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. Baseball earned its first NCAA tournament berth since 2007. Men’s golf advanced from regionals to make its first appearance at the NCAA Championships since 2009. Women’s basketball reached the second round of the WNIT. Field hockey continued its outstanding record as it qualified for the national tournament for the 15th time under head coach Jennifer Averill.
We also celebrated many individual achievements throughout the 2015-16 year. We had two ACC individual champions in Robert Heppenstall (men’s indoor track, 1500m and men’s outdoor track 800m) and Jessie Merckle (women’s outdoor track, javelin). Will Craig was named the National Player of the Year by D1Baseball.com. Jack Harrison (men’s soccer) was named ACC Player of the Year and also earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors along with Petros Chrysochos (men’s tennis) and Robert Heppenstall (indoor and outdoor track). Two of our outstanding coaches were recognized as ACC Coach of the Year (Bobby Muus, men’s soccer and Tony Bresky, men’s tennis). We also added 15 All-Americans, 17 first team All-ACC performers and 33 All-ACC Academic selections.
Although their records don’t necessarily reflect it, our football and men’s basketball programs also continued to make strides throughout the 2015-16 year. Both teams were very young, yet they worked hard, gained valuable experience and showed many signs of improvement. Both teams are moving in the right direction, and I’m enthusiastic about what the coming year holds for our flagship programs.
Our student-athletes also continued to make us proud with their hard work in the classroom. More than half (54%) made the ACC Honor Roll and eleven teams posted perfect Academic Performance Rate (APR) scores of 1,000. Women's golf earned an APR Public Recognition Award for having an APR that ranked in the top 10% of their sport nationally.
The past year also provided many reasons to celebrate when it comes to our athletic facilities. The 2015-16 year not only saw the completion of both McCreary Field House and the Haddock House, but the “building boom” continued as we began construction on the new baseball Player Development Center, permanent seating at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex, and renovations to the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex. We also made significant progress in the fundraising for the new Sports Performance Center thanks to a generous matching gift initiative presented by Ben Sutton and Bob McCreary.
Wake Forest student-athletes and coaches gave us all many reasons to be proud over the course of the 2015-16 year, and I thank them for their hard work, dedication, and passion. With their continued progress and the positive impact that we’re already seeing as a result of our recent facility upgrades, we have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year. It’s going to be exciting, and I especially look forward to cheering the Deacs on to many victories and championships with you!