Clayton’s Fowler to retire in February

Longtime Clayton High sports leader stepping down on Feb. 1

cbest@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2012 

Coach Gary Fowler and long time friend Hal Stewart share thoughts as they roam Clayton's sideline during the Comets' game against South Johnston last month.

JOHNNY JOHNSON — newsobserver.com

— Longtime Clayton High School athletic director Gary Fowler will retire from teaching and athletic administration effective Feb. 1. The retirement will end his 31-year run at Clayton High School.

Fowler previously announced his retirement as football coach before the recent end of the 2012 season.

“I’m just ready to step back and enjoy what’s next in life,” Fowler said. “It’s been a great privilege to teach and coach at such as great a community school as Clayton has been to me and my family.”

He joined the Clayton High School staff in 1982 as a physical education teacher and defensive coordinator for the Glenn Nixon-led Comet football team. He also coached track and field and junior varsity basketball during those early years.

He succeeded Nixon as football coach in 1985 and took over the athletic director post when Nixon took a job with the Johnston County Schools administration staff in 1986.

Fowler said he wanted to announce his plans now so he could help out in whatever transition role the incoming Clayton athletic director wanted.

During his tenure, Fowler has seen the Comets rise from the 2A to the 4A classification and go from a program with nine varsity sports teams to one with 22 this school year. Enrollment at the school was 700 when Fowler became AD; enrollment reached more than 2,000 in 2010 before the opening of Corinth Holders High School.

Clayton has won four straight Wells Fargo Conference Cup competitions in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference and six in the past seven school years. The Conference Cup rewards the school with the highest average finish in all varsity sports each school year.

“As a football coach, I’ve always said a head coach is only as good as his players and his assistant coaches,” Fowler said. “As an athletic director, you’re only as good as the head coaches you have in every program. I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of talented leaders in my time here.

“And that all starts with great administrative support and I’ve worked with some great principals here at Clayton High School, who all give our athletics department great support.”

Fowler also praised the work of longtime Clayton High employee Cathy Paschal.

“Cathy is so important to everything we do here,” Fowler said. “Nobody knows how much she helps our coaches and athletes out behind the scenes. She’s as much a part of our success as any coach here.”

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