A friend of a friend-M.L Carr-Jack Jensen-January 30

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about friends of my friends.  The post below is the story on a friend of a friend for January 30, 2015.

I have experienced a rash of people just outside of my inner circle who have died suddenly or shortly after getting a serious medical diagnosis over the past month. These losses have caused  me to ponder does the stuff we own, or the games we win, or the accolades we receive really count.

The answer I came up was no. What matters is the way we make people feel. That is what people will remember.

I had a coaching friend that passed away on March 28, 2010. Unless you are from North Carolina you may have never heard of him but his name was Jack Jensen. He coached for 45 years at Guilford College in Greensboro-did you catch that I mentioned he coached for 45 years all at Guilford College.

He died at age of 71 coming back from a college athletic event. He died while still actively coaching. Jack Jensen coached basketball for 29 years at Guilford and won the NAIA National Championship in 1973 with M.L Carr and Lloyd Free (who later became known as World B Free) on his team. Jack also coached golf and won 3 National Championships in that sport 1989(NAIA), 2002 (NCAA Div III), and 2005 (NCAA Div III).

Last March on the anniversary of his death March 28, 2014 I am at a fundraiser for United Way in Lumberton, NC and am sitting next to a couple who I had a casual acquaintance with. In fact I only knew the husband. I had never met his wife. They came late to the event and the wife inquired about who I was and where I worked. I gave her a very brief overview and she mentioned that I had coached college basketball to her husband Fred. He asked me if I knew Jack Jensen and I answered yes.

Fred told me the impact Jack Jensen had on his son. His son was a student at Guilford and was a friend of some of Jack’s golfers so he became their son’s academic advisor. The best part of Fred’s story is it illustrates how Jack cared for all people not just ones that could help him win a golf match or basketball game. Fred’s son was not a player on any of Jack’s teams. He was just someone that Jack made feel special because he was a student at Guilford.

Jack Jensen gave everyone on his team his best regardless of their potential to help him.

The Friend-JACK JENSEN Jack Jensen

The Friend of the Friend-ML CARR ml carr  

Jack Jensen’s pride in the accomplishments of M.L Carr When you are a college coach and get a chance to coach a player who goes on to achieve success on the professional level in the NBA that is pretty heady stuff. Jack Jensen was always proud of the career M.L Carr had.

M.L Carr played 10 seasons of professional basketball and his last 6 years were with the Boston Celtics (1979-1985). With the Celtics he was a member of the 1981 and 1984 NBA Championship teams. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._L._Carr

M.L Carr accomplished a lot but I can only imagine how much pride Jack Jensen would have had if he could have been around to see what M.L Carr did for his hometown mentor in June of 2013. M.L Carr grew up in Wallace, NC and pulled a great surprise on 73 year old Davis Lee.

Davis Lee took a special interest in Carr at a time of racial injustice. He bought him his first pair of Converse tennis shoes and guided him on a course that led to basketball success at Wallace-Rose Hill High, Guilford College and the NBA. As Carr reached high school age, Lee encouraged him to enroll at Wallace-Rose Hill and help integrate the school. “No, I’m not going,” Carr said but later yielded to Lee’s persuasion.

One of 27 African American students at W-RH then, Carr was engaging, possessed leadership skills and helped break down racial barriers. In basketball, he was the lone black athlete in area gyms, not exactly a cozy feeling. “All you need to do is score 25 or 30 points and win the game; Keep your cool no matter what happens. If anything happens let me handle it,” Carr remembers Lee telling him. Carr kept his cool.

He didn’t dazzle on the court at first, however. So Lee gave him time off from his summer job at Rose Hill Poultry Plant and paid his way to Campbell College’s Basketball Camp. He sharpened his skills there and met coach John Wooden and Pete Maravich, basketball icons who served as camp instructors. The star in Carr began to shine after that. He averaged 21 points his junior season, almost triple his sophomore production.

Those skills led him to Guilford where he played for both Jerry Steele and Jack Jensen. There is a great article about the relationship between M.L Carr and Davis Lee written by A.J Carr (no relation) in the link below. There is also a quote at the end of the story that would have made Jack Jensen proud

 “one kind, nurturing and benevolent man can make a difference.”

Jack Jensen and M.L Carr are both testimonies to that. It is not the stuff, it is not the wins, or the accolades we receive. It is how you make people feel that gets you remembered.



One comment

  1. Jeff Neelon · · Reply

    Here is more of the story.

    I sent this to Penny Rose who is my son’s mother in law.

    Coach Jensen was at Elkin High School when she lived there. Because he was such an outstanding leader Penny and two other girls went to Guilford because he became a coach there

    Penny’s college roommate married Johnny Rascoe who was a good friend of Jack’s. Johnny is an outstanding coach having won four out of the last five high school football championships at Northern Guilford

    Sent from my iPhone


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