When Guilford College's Jack Jensen was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame last month in Kansas City, at least one moment was forever etched in his mind.
Having won national championships in two sports in a college coaching career that has spanned 25 years, it was his turn to finally savor some of the glory. Standing before the assembled crowd in Kansas City, Jensen looked out and saw 31 friends - former players, scorekeepers and various Guilford supporters from all over the nation - smiling back at him. To him, it was the ultimate accolade.To his former players, many of whom played on Guilford's 1973 NAIA Championship basketball team, it was a reunion not to be missed.
``It was a once-in-a-lifetime honor and a big moment in his life,' said Ron Mikels, of South Carolina, who played for Jensen at Guilford and went on to coach basketball at Greensboro College and Winthrop.
``My lifetime friends are the guys on that team,' said Greg Jackson, of New York, who was the team's point guard from 1970-74. ``Coach (Jensen) has been a good friend for 20 years, so I wanted to go down there and share his happiness.'
Guilford baseball coach Robert Fulton perhaps said it best. ``I think the guys going out there to Kansas City meant more to him than the honor itself,' said Fulton, who also was a member of the 1973 squad. ``It showed just how much everybody thinks of him.'
Jensen's tenure at Guilford has carried several memorable milestones. He has spent 13 years as head golf coach and 20 years as the head basketball coach. He also spent five additional years as assistant coach under former Wake Forest teammate Jerry Steele, who now coaches at High Point College.
During that time, Jensen has directed Guilford to three NAIA District 26 basketball championships; has twice been named the district's coach of the year; and, in addition to the national crown in 1973, has taken two other teams to the national NAIA tournament. He has posted a career 311-246 record.
With the talents of such players as M.L. Carr and World B. (Lloyd) Free in the early 1970s, Jensen was able to win his first national title during his third season as head coach.
His second national crown was won last year when his Quaker golf team gave him the distinction of being only the second coach in the nation to win national NAIA championships in two sports.
Prior to claiming the top prize last season, Jensen's golf teams had advanced into the national tournament 11 of 14 years and had finished second three times since 1985. To date, he has placed teams in the nation's top 10 nine times and top 4 five times. Nine Guilford players also have achieved All-America status under his coaching.
``As much as he's achieved, he still can't accept the fact that he's a great coach,' said Carr, who played on Jensen's national championship basketball team before launching a professional playing career for the NBA's Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons. ``We have both respect for him as a person, as well as a coach. He did a lot of things for us.'
Seven of 10 players from the 1973 squad were in Kansas City for Jensen's NAIA Hall of Fame induction. Nine team members from a 1976 squad also made the trip, including a student scorekeeper now of San Francisco who Jensen once fired for being late to a game. That same former scorekeeper flew to Kansas City from a business trip in Chicago last year to watch Guilford play in the NAIA tournament.
Jensen says he still gets cold chills when he thinks about that young squad of players back in 1973. Free was an 18-year-old talented freshman with a shot. Carr was the experienced senior who sometimes gave up a few of his own sure shots to keep the freshman happy.
``I equate that team to the 1984 Boston Celtics,' said Carr, of Boston. ``There was no way we could beat the (Los Angeles) Lakers, but we came together as a team and did it. The '73 team at Guilford was also like that." Jensen remembers the team's incredible desire to win. There was at least one skirmish a week in practice because of the high intensity level.
One player, Teddy East, who played from 1969-73, was known to challenge teammates to fight if he thought they weren't giving their best effort to the team. The 6-foot-2 1/2, 185-pound player never had any takers on his offer. He still is regarded by Jensen as the best defensive player he's seen on any level in 25 years.
But there have been other teams that have had that special desire to please Jensen. His 1972 team went 19-8 without the injured Carr. His 1976 team, playing without Free, who gave up his senior season to turn pro, finished 21-6 and played two of the best back-to-back District 26 games in the district's recent history.