Willie Bradshaw, one of the leading high school athletic administrators in the country for many years, died Monday.
Bradshaw spent much of his career as a coach and administrator at Durham Hillside High.
He was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2010. He is one of six people from North Carolina to be inducted into the national hall.
“Willie Bradshaw was certainly one of our legendary coaches and administrators,” said Davis Whitfield, the commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association. “He has been a role model for so many people and was a wonderful pioneer.”
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Bradshaw was a member of at least three halls of fame, but said his greatest honor was teaching and coaching children.
“The things I remember best are the children,” he said in a 2013 interview. “Some of them turned out really well. Some of them didn’t. One of the best athletes I ever coached had to pull some serious time (in prison), but I think some kids were helped along the way.”
Bradshaw made major contributions in the integration of high school athletics in North Carolina in the 1960s.
“He was a key person, a godsend really,” said Charlie Adams, the former NCHSAA head . “Few people will ever know the contributions Willie made. Every high school athlete in the state has been touched to some extent by him and the work he has done.
“Willie used to tell everyone that integrating was coming and couldn’t come fast enough. He was someone who worked very quietly. He didn’t want publicity, just results.”
Bradshaw was an outstanding athlete at Hillside and played on the 1943 football team that was unbeaten, untied and unscored upon. He played football, basketball and baseball at North Carolina College, now North Carolina Central University, and was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985.
He also was a pitcher with the Durham Eagles professional team.
Bradshaw coached at Laurinburg I.E. Johnson, Chapel Hill Lincoln and Greensboro Dudley in the then-segregated school system before returning to his alma mater as a coach in 1963.
He had a 96-43-6 coaching record in football, including a 50-4-3 record at Lincoln, and a 215-119 record with 14 conference championships in basketball. His teams won three N.C. High School Athletic Conference football titles.
He was coach and athletic director at Hillside for 15 years before becoming the Durham City Schools athletic director and later the system’s city/county athletic director.
“He directed a state championship for us in essentially every sport,” Adams said. “He was a priceless gem and one of the most popular athletic figures in the state.”
Bradshaw had been the president of the N.C. High School Athletic Directors Association and the N.C. Coaches Association and was a member of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.