High Schools

NCHSAA honors top coaches from the last 100 years

tstevens@newsobserver.com June 20, 2013 

Start with Greensboro Grimsley coach-of-all-things Bob Jamieson, add Durham Hillside track coach Russell Blunt and Wilmington’s famed Leon Brogden if you are foolhardy enough to pick the top 100 coaches in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 100-year history.

Anybody who doesn’t agree those three were among the best ever in North Carolina probably isn’t going to agree to any of the others, either.

The NCHSAA appointed a committee – I was asked but declined – to pick top 100 lists of administrators, coaches, male athletes and female athletes as part of its Centennial Celebration.

The NCHSAA, which traces its origins to the 1913 boys’ state track meet, announced the top coaches Wednesday. My first reaction was to look for who was missing and to arch an eyebrow over a few who were chosen.

I have known 80 or more of the 100 coaches who were selected and I have no real complaint with any of the picks.

Pete Williams, the former Raleigh Ligon coach, Columbus County football coach Jack Holley and Garner football’s Hal Stewart are in my top 100 and might have been on the committee’s if it did as I did and set a 20-year NCHSAA coaching requirement.

The 20-year limitation would have cut out some outstanding coaches, though. Richmond County football’s Daryl Barnes (157-25 and five state titles in 14 seasons), Bandys basketball coach Mike Matheson (four state titles in 10 years), and Durham basketball coach Paul Sykes (seven state titles in nine years) made impacts quickly.

The committee did include my top dozen: Jamieson, Blunt, Brogden, Wilson Fike basketball coach Harvey Reid, Wallace’s Thell Overman, Hickory’s Frank Barger, Sylva-Webster’s Charles “Babe” Howell, Chapel Hill’s Sherry Norris, Northern Durham’s Ken Browning, Sanderson’s Bob Catapano, West Charlotte’s Charles McCullough and Reidsville’s Hoy Isaacs, who coached state championship teams in basketball, baseball and golf.

Picking all-star teams and all-time lists is always controversial, but the committee’s list is a reflection of the state’s history. There are a lot more men than women among the top coaches, but the NCHSAA didn’t have much for girls for almost 50 years.

The earliest years of the association aren’t represented well, but times and interscholastic sports have changed. Winston-Salem won the 1918 state baseball championship without a coach, for example.

The coaching list is a reminder of some incredible performances and teams.

Cary wrestling coach Jerry Winterton (642-34 in career dual-matches), Catapano (363-44-21 in boys’ soccer ), South Granville softball coach Jim Fleming (463-36), Taylorsville girls’ basketball coach Pat Gainey (358-57) and Durham’s Sykes (464-37) have coaching records that look like typos.

State championships came regularly to Broughton soccer coach Izzy Hernandez (11 state titles), Enloe swimming coach Vicki Peoples (10 state titles), Broughton tennis coach Steve Spivey (18 boys’ and girls’ state titles), Wake Forest-Rolesville basketball coach Larry Lindsey (eight state titles), East Chapel Hill tennis coach Lindsey Linker (16 state titles), Robbinsville football coach Bob Colvin (11 state titles) and Charlotte Independence football coach Tom Knotts (eight state titles).

Greensboro Grimsley swim coach Bob Sawyer’s Whirlies won 16 consecutive NCHSAA championships and Beaufort basketball coach Tom McQuaid’s teams won 91 consecutive games to bolster a 368-75 career record.

Greenville Rose baseball coach Ronald Vincent’s teams have won six state titles and more than 800 games.

Wilmington Hoggard’s Sheila Boles deserves special recognition after becoming the first woman to coach a boys’ high school basketball team in the state and doing it well enough that the team was nationally ranked in 1995.

The list is intended to honor the state’s best coaches and illuminate history. It succeeds.

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