Razors on a Plane

Back in October of 2003, Guilford student Nathan Heatwole made a valid point: Two years after 9/11, security measures remained lax at the nation's largest airports, getting items such as box cutters, bleach, matches and clay past TSA on six different occasions at Raleigh-Durham International and Baltimore-Washington International airports.

I remember the headlines blaring, "North Carolina college student fools TSA, gets dangerous items on planes." Honestly, the very first thought that came to my mind was, "that kid has to be a Guilford student." And he was. It was meant to expose holes in the system, with Heatwole saying it was "an act of civil disobedience with the aim of improving public safety for the air-traveling public.''

Feelings were mixed among the Guilford College community, with English department chair, Jeff Jeske saying:  

(*) "He's a very principled young man, and it's a shock to the system...I suspect it was to prove a point...I think there's ambivalence toward it, because on the one hand, Nat seems to epitomize one type of Guilford student, which is activist, antiwar pacifist. He pointed out how porous our defense against terrorism might be. But on the other hand, some might be concerned about his methods.''

(* Source: New York Times.)

Facing felony charges and a possible 10 year sentence, Heatwole ultimately received probation, a fine, 100 hours of community service, and some amount of lasting fame by exposing lapses in security protocol of the U.S. transportation network. It's not an endorsement of an illegal act but I give him props for risking significant jail time to not only act on his beliefs but also notify the authorities of the act. He may have embarrassed the TSA (and to some extent the College and his family) yet his act perhaps helped to bring about change and tighter security measures, which truly benefit all. This is the kind of social awareness and conviction that defines a Guilfordian


Nat is now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Southern California's Center for...(wait for it)...Homeland Security.

The Shot Seen Around the World

Guilford has a long, storied and sucessful athletic tradition but rarely makes the highlight reels of major sports outlets. In general, teams of the NCAA's Divsion III get short shrift in the media, with scant coverage. But back in January of 2005, Captain of the basketball team Jordan Snipes and his squad were on a constant loop of ESPN' s highlight reels.

Guilford and conference rival Randolph-Macon were tied up 88-88 with 0.6 seconds left in overtime (hence the "3" in the period space of the scoreboard). A Randolph-Macon player sinks a foul shot, seemingly winning the game, but misses the second shot. Jordan Snipes rebounds the ball and hurls it the entire length of the court, swishing the shot and giving Guilford College an improbable 91-89 victory and ample coverage on local, state and national news.
And ESPN. And Sports Illustrated. "The Shot" is widely considered one of the greatest in NCAA history, and the greatest in school history - by a long shot. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

(* The original poster of the video says, "a guy from the purple team" makes the winning basket; however, these Guilford uniforms are alternate, darker versions of their usual, lighter crimson and gray.)

Video of the "buzzer beater" has almost 11 million views on YouTube and continues to receive hits eight years later. Guilford AD and basketball coach Tom Palombo said of the winning Hail Mary heave, "It kind of put us on the map."  

Interestingly, the feat proved to be no fluke. A few nights later, Snipes repeated the shot on WFMY News 2 in Greensboro, N.C. from the same spot, around 90 feet from the basket. Snipes became a bit of a campus and Greensboro celebrity. He credits the play with securing a part-time job soon after, as the manager of the business was aware of him and the play. There are numerous searchable articles and mentions of "The Shot" on the web. 

Snipes was named first team all-conference, graduating in 2007, and briefly played pro ball in Germany before returning to North Carolina. He's currently an active alumni and family man living in Greensboro, and is a territory sales manager for Reynolds America.