125 Difference-Makers VIII
by Chuck Gordon

NBA Tone-Setter: Junior Harrington

Junior Harrington shoots a jump shot

A somewhat overlooked high school player with a suspect jump shot, Lorinza “Junior” Harrington ’02 gave everything he had on the court. When Wingate’s head coach at the time, Jeff Reynolds, brought Harrington in for a visit and to play against his current players in 1998, he started to think he might have found a diamond in the rough. “He was more athletic than we thought,” Reynolds says. “He had a work ethic that was already beyond what most high school kids would have.” That work ethic made him an All-American and SAC player of the year and had him starting at point guard for the Denver Nuggets a few months after graduating from Wingate. Harrington played all 82 games for the Nuggets in the 2002-2003 season as an undrafted rookie free agent, and he wound up spending time with three NBA teams during his lengthy professional career.

It shows just how good a player he was that Harrington never did develop much of a shot but still played professionally for 12 years. “Great defender. Great leader,” Reynolds says. “Set the tone for others. Tremendous teammate. He wasn’t a great shooter, but he could get to the lane and create shots for others, which is sometimes as valuable as you scoring on your own. His level of energy increased everyone else’s level.” Wingate won 100 games during Harrington’s four seasons. He is a member of the Wingate Sports and SAC halls of fame.

Pat Plant teaching at the board

Relentless Motivator: Pat Plant

Pat Plant always knew her students could do better. Her exacting standards gave her a hard edge, but students would usually come to realize that Plant merely knew something about them that they didn’t know themselves. After Plant died at her desk in 2015, Dr. Dinene Klein Crater ’91 drove down for the memorial service from High Point, where she is an associate professor of biology at High Point University. In college, Crater had told Plant that she wanted to become a respiratory therapist. “Klein, that’s a fine career, but you can do more than that,” Plant told her. Crater went on to get her Ph.D. in microbiology from the Wake Forest School of Medicine. “She saw my potential and wanted to make sure I reached it,” Crater says. Plant won the Corts Teaching Award in 1991.

Jim Furman head shot

Pharmacy-Program Expander: Jim Furman

Boone Drugs opened the door for the Wingate University School of Pharmacy to have a presence in western North Carolina. In 2003, Jim Furman, co-owner of the 100-year-old chain of stores in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, began a partnership with the University that enabled Wingate pharmacy students to do clinical rotations in Boone Drugs stores around the town of Boone, and to have Boone Drugs pharmacists serve as preceptors (clinical instructors) for those students. With the door now opened a crack, Wingate expanded its presence in the western part of the state and eventually opened a School of Pharmacy location in Hendersonville. Furman also made a significant gift to help Wingate construct the Levine College of Health Sciences building.

Lindsay Hinson-Knipple checking on a patient

Delivery Specialist: Lindsay Hinson-Knipple

In the past 13 years, Dr. Lindsay Hinson-Knipple ’04 has delivered thousands of babies. An OB-GYN in Tampa since graduating with her medical degree from Florida State, Hinson-Knipple has made a huge impact on her community, both as a partner in Women’s Care Florida and as a foster parent, alongside her husband, former Wingate quarterback Shane Knipple. Hinson-Knipple excelled as a volleyball player at Wingate, where she also graduated top of her class. “I tend to err on the side of being a little bit of a perfectionist,” she says. “I can admit that.” She was named a SAC Distinguished Alumna in 2019. After receiving a slew of honors during her Wingate days, including the H.K. Helms and C.C. Burris awards, she received multiple awards as a student at the Florida State University College of Medicine and as a resident at the University of Florida. “Most people know she’s an incredible woman,” her husband says. “I’ve seen that more and more as we’ve started to foster, and just her heart. She totally deserves everything she’s awarded.”

Kristen Bartlett laughing

Funny Girl: Kristen Bartlett

Kristen Bartlett ’05 took the long road to comedy’s mountaintop, working a regular office job for years while taking improv and sketch-comedy classes in New York. But in 2016, at the age of 33, she finally realized her girlhood dream of becoming a writer for Saturday Night Live. She worked at SNL for two years before becoming a writer (and now executive producer) for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. It’s a great gig for Bartlett. “I love Samantha’s voice and find it very easy to write for her,” she says. Bartlett is a five-time Emmy nominee, and last year she sold a half-hour comedy, Big Wishes, to ABC. The single-camera, half-hour show is a dark comedy about a Make A Wish-like foundation for adults.

Student-Athletes’ Best Friend: David Sherwood

David Sherwood standing beside Bulldog statue

David Sherwood ’85 has worked in sports information at Wingate for 36 years. In the old days, he kept all the stats and wrote press releases. He still does some of that, but these days his focus has shifted primarily to gaining recognition for Bulldog student-athletes, especially for their work in the classroom. Since 2000, Wingate has had more Academic All-America recipients (119) than any other NCAA Division II school, and more than any college or university, in any division, in North Carolina (including Duke and UNC). Besides the hard work of the students themselves, much of that recognition is due to the tireless efforts of Sherwood.

Tireless Fundraiser: Chris Brewer

Chris Brewer smiling

Chris Brewer ’05 was an All-American punter at Wingate who played professionally for a short time. But it’s through his work raising awareness of, and money to fight, cancer that he has made the biggest difference. A cancer survivor himself, Brewer told the folks at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, where he underwent treatment: “As long as I come out of this on the other side, use me whatever way you can.” In 2020 Brewer was featured in a video for the American Cancer Society, released on National Cancer Day (Feb. 4). He’s also on the board of directors of Cure on Wheels, which raises money for Moffitt, and is a member of the Associate Board of Ambassadors for the American Cancer Society. There, Brewer puts his considerable personality to use in raising awareness of the risks of cancer. “I’ll do videos, interviews, whatever I can to raise awareness,” he says. “I would do 50 hours of this a week if I knew one person was going to see it and go get checked when they think something’s going on.”

Larry Coleman in his office

Compassionate Showman: Larry Coleman

Few actors in collegiate productions go on to become a Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep. Larry Coleman understood that. In the 60 or so University productions he directed in his 28 years on the faculty, Coleman wasn’t looking to create stars; he wanted to instill a confidence that would last long after the house lights dimmed. “He stressed the components of self-assurance in one’s life, both on and off the stage,” says Amee Huneycutt Odom ’95, one of the hundreds of Coleman acolytes who still feel his absence, three years after he succumbed to Parkinson’s disease. But he’s not wholly absent. His enthusiasm for the theater, his unceasing encouragement, his willingness to take risks (especially at a Baptist school) and his flair for the dramatic live on in his former charges. Brother of longtime religion professor Byrns Coleman, Larry’s name graces the stage in McGee Theatre.

CFL Legend: John Bowman

John Bowman on the sidelines during a game

There’s not much else John Bowman ’05 could do to cement his status as one of the best players in the history of the Canadian Football League. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end’s 134 sacks (in 14 seasons, all with the Montreal Alouettes) are good for sixth all-time in the CFL. In all, he played 230 games for the Als, winning Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010. He’s a sure-fire CFL Hall of Famer, but his considerable athletic prowess is not what stands out to the people who know him best. From an early point in his career, Bowman did volunteer work in Montreal. He enjoys giving back; initially, at least, it offered him a chance to show a less menacing side of himself. “On the field I wear a dark visor,” he told the CFL Players’ Association in 2018. “I’m an angry, kind of aggressive player, so they got to see me outside of the field. Now, they know I’m not like that at all.” “What I remember most about John was not his football ability,” says Brandon Seigler ’01, who played alongside Bowman for one year at Wingate, “but instead the positive attitude and remarkable character he showed on a daily basis.”

Carolyn Matthews head shot

Bulldog Parent Extraordinaire: Carolyn Matthews

An educator with a servant’s heart, Carolyn Matthews ’69 reconnected with her alma mater when her daughter, Kelli Matthews Silliman ’05, became a Wingate student. Matthews went all-in on being a Bulldog parent, becoming the chair of the first WU Parents Council. Her time on the council sparked something in her, and Matthews has gradually ramped up her involvement with the University. She is as engaged with the University as any parent could be, joining the Board of Visitors, becoming its chairwoman, and eventually being drafted onto the Board of Trustees, where, as a lifelong educator, she is “uniquely qualified,” according to fellow trustee Bill Crowder, to help Wingate chart its course.

Pharmacist for the Needy: Lauri Saleeby

It took Lauri Saleeby ’03, ’07 (Pharm.D.) two decades to realize her teenage dream of becoming a pharmacist, but the most marginalized people in Union County are so glad she finally did. After getting married at 19, Saleeby worked off and on as a pharmacy technician and raised her children before, in her early 30s, she decided to go back to college. Eight years later, she had two degrees from Wingate (biology and doctor of pharmacy). At Wingate, the faculty taught her to “treat patients as if they were your own mother.” Now, as the pharmacy manager for the Union County Health Department, Saleeby explains to patients how to treat their gestational diabetes, counsels inmates on their insulin intake, and finds vital medications at a much reduced price for the uninsured. She’s a lifeline to the community, sacrificing a larger potential paycheck in the process. “I do love retail. I love every aspect of pharmacy,” Saleeby says. “But I never went to pharmacy school to make money. I never thought, Oh, when I get out I’m going to have a six-figure salary. Not to say that the money isn’t nice, but it’s all about the calling and where I feel that I’m best serving my community.”

James Hall talking during a gathering

Caring Chemist: James Hall

James Hall has not only shared his chemistry expertise at Wingate since 1982, but he’s given generously to the University over the past 20 years, including establishing eight scholarships. During his Wingate days, Todd Griffin ’97 spent a summer doing research with Hall on superconductivity and quantum mechanics. “I really learned how to approach and solve problems during that summer, a skill that I use every day,” Griffin says. Hall’s passion for chemistry and for teaching hasn’t waned. Alexis Morse, a 2020 chemistry grad, says Hall inspired her to pursue her dreams. "He is so patient and kind and always has his office open for questions or to see how his students are doing,” she says. “He is so passionate about everything he does, and his love for chemistry is apparent to everyone.”

Passionate Educator: Ashley Melton

Ashley Melton head shot

Ashley Melton ’06, ’07 (M.Ed.) has a message for anyone considering entering the teaching profession. “If teaching is something you desire to do, you owe it to the children of this world to give it a try,” she says. “Children deserve people who are passionate about them.” Melton and countless other born teachers have passed through the Gate over the past four decades on their way to making a difference in public and private schools throughout the Carolinas and beyond. As a teacher at Fairview Elementary in Union County, Melton was so dedicated to her craft that she came back to Wingate to get her master’s and even an add-on license in administration, eventually becoming assistant principal. She’s now the principal at Morehead City Primary School. “At Wingate, I had a variety of experiences that were not just in the classroom that helped develop me as a leader,” she says. “Wingate’s environment allowed me to try things, and if they weren’t successful I still had support from faculty and friends.”