The Wolfpacker

May 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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■ PACK PAST Clyde Chesney Was A True Scholar-Athlete T BY TIM PEELER he announcement that ran in the lo- cal papers more than 40 years ago was brief, and missed the point completely. "Clyde Chesney will move into a starting role at defensive end for North Carolina State Saturday against Houston replac- ing Jerry Miller, who has withdrawn from school for personal reasons," said the brief from the Associated Press. Chesney walked out onto the field at Carter Stadium on Nov. 15, 1969, in his white helmet and his red jersey and became the first black player to start a football game for NC State, lining up on defense against Houston. Some of the 31,000 spectators on hand for the cold, blustery homecoming day contest might have noticed his presence, in what should be remembered as a momen- tous occasion for the program. At the time, the Wolfpack was the ACC's defending champion in football. On a small scale, it wasn't a good day for NC State: the Cougars rolled up 439 yards against the Pack defense and intercepted four passes in the 34-13 victory. On a larger scale, though, Chesney's appearance in the starting lineup more than four decades ago is remembered as an important moment in the final and complete integration of Wolf- pack athletics. Chesney died on April 18 at his home in Nashville, Tenn. He was 63. While he was neither the first African- American to play in a football game for Wolfpack head coach Earle Edwards' pro- gram, nor the first to earn a football scholar- ship, Chesney was an important figure in the eventual integration of Wolfpack football. The first African-American to play in a football game for NC State was Marcus Martin, a sophomore defensive back from Covington, Va., who came off the bench to play in the Wolfpack's 36-12 victory over South Carolina in 1968. Martin enrolled in 1966 and was a member of the NC State marching band during the inaugural season at Carter Stadium. Martin was an all-star quarterback at Covington's Watson High School who had also played football and basketball, was in the marching band and was class vale- dictorian. A double major in chemical engineering and pulp and paper technology, Martin was enrolled at NC State on an academic schol- arship and joined the football team as a walk-on. He joined the football team in the 72 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Chesney, the first black player to start a football game for NC State, was a Dean's List student who earned Academic All-ACC honors in 1971. spring of 1967 and was on the travel squad for several games during the Wolfpack's 9-2 season, but did not participate. He paid his own way to Memphis, Tenn., to watch his teammates beat Georgia in the school's first postseason bowl victory. In the spring of 1969, he was named to the second team on defense. When fall drills began in 1969, he was moved down to third team. Shortly afterwards, he quit the team, as he described it in the student newspaper, "quietly, and without a fuss." Afterwards, the school paper called for the football program to become more pro- active in integrating its roster. "We don't feel blacks should be recruited because they are black, because the govern- ment says integrate or because of any pres- sure," said a 1969 editorial. "But we do feel the athletic program may be able to gain a boost by offering aid to blacks instead of sitting back and waiting for an athlete to step forth from the student body." NC State was the first ACC institution to integrate its athletics as far back as 1956, when Irwin Holmes and Manuel Crockett participated in an indoor track meet for the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill, N.C. Holmes eventually migrated from track to tennis and in 1959 was the first African-American athlete at a southern college to be named captain of his team. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS Another decade passed, however, before Al Heartley walked on to Norm Sloan's basketball team and Martin walked on to the football team. Chesney, an all-state selection at line- backer during his senior year at Fayette- ville's E.E. Smith High School, also en- rolled at State in 1967 on an academic scholarship. A high school injury kept him from participating in athletics his first year on campus, but he felt compelled to join the team in 1968. He redshirted the sea- son while making the transition from line- backer to defensive end. For three years, during the time that NC State made the transition from Edwards to Lou Holtz, Chesney was an integral part of the Wolfpack defense. He was also a Dean's List student who earned Academic All-ACC honors in 1971. He was still a walk-on when he played in 1969, and by the next spring, interim head coach Al Michaels recruited and signed to football scholarships Raleigh natives Wil- lie Burden and Charlie Young, who both played at Raleigh's Enloe High. Chesney was given a scholarship in the summer of 1970, just prior to the start of preseason drills. Chesney was a capable football player who certainly paved the way for Burden and Young, who became two of the most

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