North Carolina High School Athletic Association

2023-2024 Homer Thompson “Eight Who Make A Difference” Awards

The award is named in honor of the late Homer Thompson, the long-time Winston-Salem Parkland coach and member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame; individuals are nominated for exemplary sportsmanship and leadership. The award is presented by The North Carolina Farm Bureau. 

The following recipients of the HOMER THOMPSON MEMORIAL “EIGHT WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AWARD”have been selected by virtue of their commitment to sportsmanship and leadership.  Just like the late Coach Homer Thompson, these recipients serve as excellent role models to our student-athletes with their positive and dedicated approach to education-based athletics.

Region 1: Heather Sulkowski, Manteo High School

Coach Sulkowski is a Math teacher and coach at Manteo High School and has been a tremendous female role model in our school and community. In her third season as the head volleyball coach, she reached the third round of the playoffs for the first time in many years. She has created a very successful program overall and even started a beach volleyball club.  She is also in her first season as head women’s basketball coach.  She did all of this in spite of her husband passing away in November due to a sudden illness. No one outworks her. She truly makes a difference in our student-athletes and school daily, and she is a great role model for young people.

Region 2: Jeremy Joyner, East Duplin High School

Coach Joyner is a coach who pushes all his kids to be their best. His girls’ teams have been conference champions for the past two years in both indoor and outdoor track. He has brought in other coaches who are more knowledgeable in throwing and jumping to help push his kids to their highest potential. His hard work and dedication show through his teams. He has continued to support his kids not only on the track field but also in the classroom and after school. Coach Joyner is a true definition of a Champion in his own right.

Region 3: Dontae Lassiter, Louisburg Magnet High School

Coach Lassiter has been the football coach at Louisburg since 2015 and has had a .500 or better record in each of the last four seasons. He was nominated this year by a parent of one of his players, who said, “We had a young team this season, and there were times it really showed. The coach could have easily lost his cool, but I noticed he used it as a teachable moment to get better.  He has also really helped my son’s confidence on and off the field.’

Region 3: Robbin Faulkner, Wake Forest High School

Ms. Faulkner has served as the Varsity Cheerleading Coach at Wake Forest High School for three decades and is the benchmark for providing a foundation of sportsmanship and expectations at our sporting events as a Coach and Assistant Athletic Director. Beyond having cheerleading team accolades, her success in developing student-athletes goes beyond the present and serves as an example for future success.  Her leadership as the Cheerleading Coach provides a display of expectations at our sporting events that set the tone for belief in education-based athletics and sportsmanship.

Region 5: Ann Ferguson, Thomasville High School

Coach Ferguson has been part of the Thomasville Bulldogs staff for the last six years. She started as the women’s basketball coach and then transitioned over to the men’s team three seasons ago.  Ferguson is an exemplary teacher in the classroom and on the basketball floor.  Coach has been recognized as the Coach of the Year for both our men’s and women’s basketball teams by the conference.  She connects our student-athletes with the community through outreach activities and visiting local churches in Thomasville

Region 6: Kayla Symone Price, Rocky River High School

Coach Price was nominated by nearly everyone in the Athletic Department at Rocky River. The Athletic Director said: “This young woman epitomizes exemplary leadership, showcased not only through her outstanding career in tennis but also in her role as head coach for both men’s and women’s tennis programs. In the past, our school faced challenges in attracting student-athletes to sports. However, Coach Price’s unwavering commitment to engaging with our student-athletes and emphasizing the values of sports, such as building character, honesty, and integrity, has led to a significant increase in women’s participation in tennis.”

Region 7: Dana Smith, West Caldwell High School

Dana Smith exemplifies the characteristics of good sportsmanship on and off the field and has always been a positive role model for student-athletes. Dana Smith teaches Physical Education and Weight Training and is the Head Track coach at West Caldwell High School. Over the past two years, he has had to overcome adversity both in his personal life and at school. Despite his personal tragedy, he continued to hold student-athletes accountable for their actions. Dana Smith is the perfect example of a high school coach who shows good sportsmanship consistently and is always a positive role model for student-athletes.  

Region 8: Lynette Gibson, MS, LAT, ATC, Franklin High School

Lynette Gibson has been an integral part of the Franklin High School and Macon County community for nearly 11 years. As the head athletic trainer at Franklin High School, Lynette provides exceptional care for student-athletes of all skill levels. Her passion and dedication to the health and safety of all student-athletes are demonstrated when she provides the same quality care for those athletes on visiting teams. Lynette’s approach to caring for her student-athletes directly aligns with Macon County Schools’ motto, “In the Best Interest of the Students.”