Chapel Hill News

Coaches hop-scotch around Triangle

Bill Renner, center, retired this year from varsity high school coaching. He now concentrates on coaching individual skills for quarterbacks and kickers.
Bill Renner, center, retired this year from varsity high school coaching. He now concentrates on coaching individual skills for quarterbacks and kickers. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO -

Among the many personal sayings of Satchell Paige, the seemingly ageless pitcher, a favorite was : “The social ramble ain’t restful.”

He might as well have been talking about coaching.

Coaches don’t work 8 to 5, and many have jobs with the life expectancy of Eighth Air Force crews in World War II. Unless they have tenure, they might as well rent as own a home; the chances are low of staying long enough in one house to allow them to pay off even a 15-year mortgage.

It’s small wonder then that so many hop from one school to the next, sometimes by their own volition and sometimes not.

Most schools have at least one coach with three or fewer years of experience.

With Bill Hall’s retirement from Northwood after 14 years as the Chargers’ head football coach, Issac Marsh of Chapel Hill becomes the dean of area coaches — in his 17th year at Chapel Hill, the 12th as head coach.

Marsh is not the only veteran in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools — Ray Hartsfield has been the head basketball coach at East Chapel Hill since it opened in 1996 — but coaches with 10-plus years at the same place are rare.

Some of the recent changes in the Triangle area include:

Brian Harrington: He’s in his first year as head coach at Northwood, his high school alma mater, after working on Hall’s staff for 14 years.

“At times, it really feels like I’ve got some big shoes to fill. People in this community really liked Coach Hall. It’s not just wins and losses. He really pleased the community.”

Carl Funderburk: Like Harrington, Funderburk feels lucky to get a job in his hometown. Born in Durham, he’s coached in places as disparate as Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., Savannah (Ga.) State and with the Fayetteville Force of the Southern Indoor Football League.

Now he’s entering his first year as tight ends coach at N.C. Central.

He and his wife, Eileen Tully, principal at East Chapel Hill High School, have maintained their home in Durham for years.

“We feel very fortunate to have landed a position so close to home and with a great school and athletic department,” Tully said in an email.

Ryan Johnson: He’s one of the most-traveled coaches in the area. Like Funderburk, Johnson played at Elon University. He earned his bachelor’s degree there in 2004 and then served as a football assistant at Graham, Eastern Guilford, Southwest Guilford, Southern Alamance and North Moore before arriving at East Chapel Hill.

Johnson was on Mike Holdeman’s staff last season, and worked with the Wildcat players in the off-season. He was confirmed officially in the East Chapel Hill top job on July 16, giving him little more than two weeks to adjust to his new role before the start of practices on Saturday.

Bill Renner: If local coaches could be represented by a Venn diagram, Renner’s brief career in North Carolina overlaps at East Chapel Hill, Northwood and NCCU (and Carolina, if one counts his son, quarterback Bryn Renner.) Renner coached at East, where Funderburk volunteered on Renner’s staff, and then Renner volunteered as offensive coordinator at Northwood after he retired from teaching. Renner retired as a varsity coach after last season, but still lives south of Chapel Hill and offers individual coaching for quarterbacks and punters via

Mark Kadlecik: Successful at East Chapel Hill as a soccer coach, Kadlecik taught at Carrboro High shortly after its opening and eventually took over there as soccer coach. Two years ago, he stepped out of coaching to allow him more time for a highly lucrative job as the booking agent for game officials in central North Carolina.

Last spring, Kadlecik took a position as athletics director at Durham School of the Arts.

Tod Morgan: Morgan, formerly the head boys basketball coach at Chapel Hill High School, has been all well traveled as Johnson. In a 19-year career since graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Morgan coached at Greene Central, Hatteras, Goldsboro and New Bern before returning to Chapel Hill, where in just five years he established a dominant program at CHHS.

He left Chapel Hill two years ago to return to his old stomping grounds in New Bern, where his wife had taken a top job in the county’s school administration. After a year commuting to C.B. Aycock in Pikeville and then a year assisting at Pamlico County High, Morgan took over in July as head basketball coach at Jones County High School.