North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Celebrating Black History | Ruby Sutton – Laney HS

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, for his research into many of these articles.

Ruby Sutton had an incredible 52-year career, mostly at E.A. Laney High School in Wilmington where she coached basketball, cheerleading, softball, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball for various 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 selected as the conference Coach of the Year four times. 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 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, and the Saul Bachner Secondary Mentoring Award.

Sutton was chosen for the NCHSAA’s Homer Thompson Memorial “Eight Who Make a Difference” Award and named to the Association’s “100 Coaches to Remember during the Association’s Centennial Celebration in 2013. E.A. Laney High School dedicated the Basketball and Volleyball Court to her, and she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013.


Read more of our 2021 Series here.