North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Celebrating Black History Month: Ruby Sutton

During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, the NCHSAA website will feature information about African-Americans who have made major contributions to the great tradition of high school sports in our state. We hope you find these both entertaining and informative. Our thanks to Rick Strunk, former NCHSAA Associate Commissioner, on his research into many of these articles and Championships.


Ruby Sutton had an incredible 52-year career, most of that at E.A. Laney High School in Wilmington where she coached basketball, cheerleading, softball, men's and women's tennis and volleyball for different stints across her 41 years at the school. The Kinston-native started her career in Wilmington at Williston High School as a physical education teacher, remaining at that school until it closed in 1968, eventually landing at Laney in 1977.

Her tennis teams built an impressive record of 346-135 while winning five Mideast Conference Championships and seeing Sutton chosen as the Conference Coach of the Year on four occasions. In volleyball, she compiled a 531-218 record while winning five more Mideast Conference Championships, the 1996 Regional Championship and three more Conference Coach of the Year Awards. 

Sutton was consistently recognized throughout her career for excellence. In 1996 she was voted Walt Disney National Physical Education Teacher of the Year. She also garnered other awards ranging from Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Sen-ABSE National and State Honoree as a Physical Education Teacher, the Saul Bachner Secondary Mentoring Award, the NCHSAA's Homer Thompson Memorial "Eight Who Make A Difference" Award and was named to the NCHSAA's "100 Coaches to Remember" during the Association's Centennial Celebration. She received a Basketball and Volleyball Court Dedication from E.A. Laney High School and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2013.

Click here to view the entire series.