Remembering Jack Jensen

I just learned that Jack Jensen died yesterday, at age 71. I knew Jack a bit when I was a student at Guilford College in the late ’60s. (Class of ’69, to be precise.) Jack wasn’t much older than the rest of us then. When I was a freshman, Jack was a 26-year old assistant basketball coach under Jerry Steele. My involvement with athletics then consisted of running the scoreboard for the football team (sitting next to Carl Scheer, who did the play-by-play for the radio) and playing pick-up basketball in the college’s only gym when the team wasn’t practicing. After Jerry left (the year after I graduated), Jack took over as head coach. In 1973 he did what Jerry came close to doing: winning the NAIA national tournament, with a team that included World B. Free (who then went by his given name, Lloyd) and M.L. Carr. I remember what Jack said about the victory to Sports Illustrated at the time. While not verbatim, it was basically this: “We give the ball to Lloyd.” No BS about it.

Jack went on to coach Guilford basketball for 29 years, and was still coaching the golf team — which he led to three national titles — when he died, after returning from a golf tournament

From the email sent out by the college:

The most decorated coach in Guilford’s history, Jack was enshrined in the NAIA, North Carolina, Guilford County, Guilford College and Wake Forest University Sports Halls of Fame, as well as the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. He was only the second person to coach two different sports to NAIA national titles. In 2009, Guilford‚s main basketball floor in the Ragan-Brown Field House was renamed Jack Jensen Court.

From Allen Johnson of the Greensboro News & Record: “He richly deserves the title legend.”

By all accounts he was an even better guy than the ace I remember. My best to his family, friends, and the thousands of others who knew him better than I did.

[Later...] More about Jack’s death (of a heart attack, on the phone, at the wheel of his car — but with no others hurt), funeral plans and more, here, here, here, here and here.

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1 comment

  1. Nicole Witten’s avatar

    Doc,
    I was going to email you today to let you know about Jack and the funeral arrangements, but seems you are on top of it. It was really nice to see this blog entry about Jack. Thank you for including this and remembering Jack and Guilford College. I look forward to reading more on here.

    Take care,
    Nicole

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