Bittersweet memories for Wolfpack fan who lost his dad on eve of NC State's magical postseason run

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Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Magical run evokes memories of late father for one NC State fan
Jack Spencer says his dad, Jim, a fellow NC State alum who died March 11, might be "pulling some strings somewhere."

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jack Spencer remembers exactly where he was during the 1983 national championship game.

"That was my freshman year and (I was) living in the dorm and we watched the championship game from there. When that last basket went in, it was like setting off dynamite. It was incredible. After that, we went out to the Brickyard and walked around Hillsborough Street for a little while, and then after that, we got in the car and went over to a girl I was dating at the time, now my wife, went over to her family and then to my family, and we all celebrated," said Spencer.

Spencer's dad Jim, a fellow alum, recorded every postseason game during that run, and the Spencer family still pulls up the game.

Jim Spencer, who passed away right before the ACC Tournament, was an NC State alum and fan who recorded every game of the 1983 championship run.
Courtesy of family

"Very, very heartwarming, very fulfilling, because you could see the joy in his face. I still shed a tear every time I see Lorenzo Charles dunk that ball. It just meant a lot to all of us," said Spencer.

It's the type of memory you want to bottle up and hold onto, much like the feelings generated during this year's run. However, unlike 1983, there's been no opportunity for Jack and Jim to celebrate this time together.

"He passed away on March 11th," Spencer said.

March 12 was the first game of the ACC Tournament, an event the Wolfpack would need to win to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Until then, no double-digit seed had ever won the ACC Tournament, but it didn't take long for Jack to feel as if something larger was at work.

"I think it was after the Duke game when I started telling some friends, 'he's pulling some strings somewhere,'" said Spencer.

A night later, Michael O'Connell hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Virginia to send the game to overtime.

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"That was insane. The fact that it was a bank from a pretty pure shooter for the most part, it's like, 'yeah, that felt guided.' They're not done yet," said Spencer.

NC State has won nine consecutive games since his father's passing, a streak which Jack noted in a post on X Sunday night. In less than 24 hours it's garnered more than 113,000 views.

"I just still can't believe it's still being shared, but I think it shows how much people connect with sports and family and underdog stories, I guess. And I think that's great," said Spencer.

Around his home, there are pictures of his dad, ever-present reminders of the Purple Heart veteran. The man who grew up in the Great Depression and went on to a fulfilling career in the electronics industry. The NC State fan whose stoic nature would have been torn to shreds in the face of moments like this.

"I would have been calling him every night after the games and talking about them and getting excited. But instead, I just have to think about him and share it with the rest of my family that we're enjoying this NC State run," said Spencer.