2023-24 Chron15: Icons

<p>Top (Left to Right): Rabbi Nossen Fellig; members of the Marketplace staff; Jared McCain. Bottom: The Wade Wackos preparing to storm the field after Duke football's September victory over Clemson; Bella Union, where Rob Clay works.</p>

Top (Left to Right): Rabbi Nossen Fellig; members of the Marketplace staff; Jared McCain. Bottom: The Wade Wackos preparing to storm the field after Duke football's September victory over Clemson; Bella Union, where Rob Clay works.

Duke’s icons are the people everyone knows — for their kindness, passion, talent or intellect. They are the people who make your meals in Marketplace or who you see plastered across the television in Krafthouse.

The icons on this year’s Chron15 list are beloved by the University community for spreading joy, knowledge and Blue Devil pride.

Jared McCain

Perhaps nobody at Duke was more iconic this past year than Jared McCain.

The freshman basketball star represented the Blue Devils in a great way on and off the court. From his messages of positivity to his TikTok dances with teammates, McCain lives to bring joy to others and was a constant bright light on campus. 

On the floor, he was the lone freshman consistently in the starting rotation, playing all 36 games. With his smooth jump shot and relentless effort on the glass, McCain impacted the team’s success in many different ways. He scored 30 points twice in the NCAA tournament, including a single-game record eight 3-pointers against James Madison in the Round of 32. 

McCain has a rigorous mental and physical discipline, which includes meditating every day without fail. Head coach Jon Scheyer calls him “unapologetically himself” and has consistently praised the Sacramento, Calif., native’s worth ethic and leadership. 

“Jared is an absolute warrior,” Scheyer said. “McCain competes every single play … It's just about his competitive nature. It's about how he's always talking. He's always upbeat and trying to make plays.”

McCain declared for the 2024 NBA Draft in April and is widely expected to be a first round pick. While his tenure at Duke was short, the positive impact he had on the Blue Devil community will not soon be forgotten.

-Ranjan Jindal, Vol. 120 sports editor

Wade Wackos

While the Cameron Crazies have long been the face of Duke's fan culture, this year, some of Duke fans' most iconic moments happened just across Tribull Plaza.

In Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke fans showed up for football in unprecedented ways. The Wade Wackos, as they proudly identify, were the heartbeat of these moments, transforming regular games into unforgettable experiences.

As Duke football opened its historic 2023 season with an upset against then-No. 9 Clemson Tigers, the Wade Wackos starred in Duke's most iconic athletic moment of the year when they stormed the field to celebrate the team's fantastic achievement. The moment captured national attention, and soon Duke hosted its first-ever College GameDay before facing Notre Dame. 

That day, Wallace Wade Stadium — including the student section — was sold out for the first time since 2018. At that moment, Duke was a “football school,” and the Wackos were up to the task, bringing loudness and excitement to every game.

This year, the iconic Wade Wackos embodied Duke's spirit, unity and pride. Their passion and wackiness supported the football team through their incredible run and brought the Duke community together, creating memories that will last generations.

-Gabriel Reis, Trinity ‘26

Rob Clay

College students need a daily caffeine kick, yes, but they also all need a daily dose of kindness. At Bella Union, you can get these two things together without fail.

Rob Clay owns Bella Union with his former bandmate Sam Clowney. Clay is North Carolina born and bred, though his years as a bassist in various bands — “Evan and Jaron” and “Cravin’ Melon”, for two — took him all over the American South. Thus, his friendly demeanor and energetic conversation are accented strongly with the hoppy drawl of a Triangle native.

Clay and his coworker Elliott Baker, Trinity ‘19 and a full-timer at Bella, are never thrown off their rhythm by morning unpleasantness from any number of demanding college students. They make lattes, chai teas, thai teas, smoothies, caramel frappes — all sorts of complicated orders that are in high demand from their hip Blue Devil customers. They know every regular’s “usual” and sometimes already have students’ signature drink prepared when they walk through the door.

Clay remembers everything his customers share with him, even if it’s only mumbled while he fills eight mobile order tickets at the same time. He asks students about their weekends and about their mothers and is often found making people laugh before 8 a.m. — an impressive feat in itself.

At Bella Union, icons make the coffee.

-Sophie Levenson, Vol. 120 sports managing editor

Rabbi Nossen Fellig

Rabbi Nossen Fellig arrived in Durham just over eight years ago, leaving behind much of his family and friends in Crown Heights, N.Y. From an apartment in 300 Swift, Fellig and his wife Chaya Fellig built a new undergraduate Jewish community from the ground up, inviting thousands of students into their home for meals and Jewish study in the years since.

The community has since grown to over 150 undergraduates joining together each week at Fleischman House for the Shabbat meal, with more than 350 students present for major holidays. No matter how many people show up at the Fleischman House, the Felligs make room at the table.

The rabbi’s goal is simple: to “turn the Cameron Crazies into Chabad Crazies” as he welcomes any Jewish student — no matter their background, beliefs, spirituality or connection to Judaism — to the Fleischman House to find community and deepen their Jewish identity.

Week in and week out, Fellig leads students in countless lunch-and-learns, charity bake sales, concerts, Yalla Food Truck lunches and one-on-one spiritual counseling sessions. His tradition of generosity and community outreach was commended this year through his recognition as an ordained minister under the Duke Chapel.

Fellig embodies Duke's core values: charity, knowledge for society, leadership and kindness. The students whose lives he’s touched are grateful to him today and every day for being their “Why Duke,” as the community he has built is unlike any other.

-Jonah Scherl, Trinity ‘24

Marketplace Staff

The men and women who put bread on the table. The first person each first-year says “hello” to every day. The great icons of East Campus: the Marketplace staff.

Often, when you walk up the storied steps of the East Campus Union — now the George and George-Frank Wall Center for Student Life — you can find Mr. Charles Gooch sitting on the bench by the door. He’s an important union representative and has been an employee of the University for over 40 years. Despite his notable status on campus, he never shies away from offering a smile and a kind word.

Then there’s Miss Sharon, who will swipe you into the dining hall with a friendly “There you go,” kindly welcoming her diners while keeping the line moving at the brisk pace required of a queue filled with hungry first-years. Miss Sharon also happens to be a competitive bowler in a league that bowls every Tuesday, and she’ll give her familiar greeting to students when she runs into them at Bowlero.

Making omelets and breakfast sandwiches to order for everyone who piles into the dining hall between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. might just be the hardest job on campus, but the Marketplace staff does it every morning and does it well. It’s easy to be homesick as a first-year in college, but it’s much harder when a kindly someone is taking the time to make a nervous student a hot, homemade breakfast.

Preparing dinner and serving it expediently is even harder than making breakfast for over 1,700 people. Yet this daunting task deters none of the white-coat-clad icons of Marketplace, who take on the challenge by offering an endless variety of choices that range in cuisine from homely Southern soul food to build-your-own Tex-Mex. And they never run out.

The best desserts on Duke’s campus seem almost excessive. How can one be hungry after a plate of steak fries and shrimp and grits and broccolini? But if you’ve had one of John Mejia’s cookies (or brownies or cakes or pies — you name it), you’ll understand why so many first-years go back for seconds. John Mejia is a shining icon amongst a tribe of them.

Thanks for feeding us, Marketplace.

-Sophie Levenson, Vol. 120 sports managing editor


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