Deacon Profile: Kenneth Herbst – Former WFU Basketball Player and Current WFU Marketing Professor
Reposted from Old Gold & Black | Posted by Julie Huggins
Kenneth Herbst (’97) is an associate professor of Marketing in the Schools of Business at Wake Forest University. Herbst has a Masters and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also is an alumnus, receiving his B.A. in 1997. While at Wake Forest, he played basketball as a walk-on on back-to-back ACC Championship teams in 1995 and 1996. On March 14, during the 2013 ACC Tournament, Herbst became a worldwide trend on Twitter under the hashtag #IntenseWakeFan. Everyone watching the Wake-Maryland game noticed the energetic and passionate person standing just feet from Jeff Bzdelik and the rest of the team.
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What were you feeling, watching the Deacs play? What was it like inside the coliseum right behind the team?
As I always do when I watch the Deacs play, I felt a great level of pride cheering on the Deacs March 14, the opening night of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Being present to support the Deacs in a seat from which I can be heard and hopefully “felt” is very special to me, and it reminds me of my role on the team (supporting and motivating the team on the court in practice and applauding the team from the bench on game days) almost 20 years ago. I believe that positive vocal support could go a long way to helping our team become more successful, and it could create a real home court advantage. It makes me feel great to be courtside as I try to make any difference that I can to help the team succeed and to let them know that their hard work and effort are very appreciated. We improved significantly this year, and I am excited about our team’s future.
Those who were watching the game christened you #IntenseWakeFan on Twitter. How does it feel knowing that the tag was trending worldwide during and after the game?
The reaction on Twitter and from fans around the country on March 14 was fun. I have been cheering for the Deacs with incredible passion for 30+ years. When I played at Wake, one of my biggest contributions was motivating the team and cheering for them as we battled the greatest teams in the country night after night. I was born in Winston-Salem, and my parents and I have been going to Wake games since I was five years old. Cheering with enthusiasm is not a new thing for me, and so the reaction from fans and the media around the country that night was really surprising but fun. I think the reason that this became somewhat of a story was because I was in a seat in which I could be seen and from which I could be heard. I hope that my applauding the team for their great effort makes a difference.
Many professors aren’t too passionate about Wake Forest athletics. What sets you apart? Do you feel it’s important to support the team? Why?
I am not sure that most professors feel a lack of passion for Wake athletics. I suppose that this may be true, but several of my colleagues are very interested in the team, and they follow our guys very closely. What may set me apart from a typical Wake professor is that I have a very personal tie to the men’s basketball program given that I was a walk-on on the basketball team in the mid-1990s. So, my Wake pride has really deep roots.
Yes, it is very important to support the team. My view is that if the players and coaches have “Wake Forest” written across their chest, then I will support them — win or lose.
Our support can only help. I have encouraged my students to attend the games and to cheer loudly early and often. I believe that we will get back to where we all want to be more quickly if we all pull together as students, faculty and fans to support our team and to create an atmosphere in the Joel Coliseum that makes defeating us in the Joel incredibly difficult.
Are you planning on watching the NCAA tournament, even though the Deacs will not be appearing?
I enjoy college basketball, and so I watched several conference tournaments. I really enjoy March Madness. The two opening days of the NCAA Tournament are my favorite sports days of the year.
Watching March Madness without the Deacs is, unquestionably, less exciting. Still, I will be watching the NCAA Tournament as I anticipate this year’s “Cinderella” story and unforgettable game endings.
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