FOUR QUESTIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH… Tony Baldwin
Dr. Tony Baldwin is currently in his sixth year as Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools. He has touched a number of bases in education, serving in the roles of associate superintendent, principal of A.C. Reynolds High School, principal of Valley Springs Middle School and assistant principal at T.C. Roberson High School. During his tenure at A.C. Reynolds, the school received the national Blue Ribbon Award and he was named the Western Regional Principal of the Year. This represents Tony’s 31st year in public education within the state of North Carolina.
Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, as well as UNC-Chapel Hill’s World View; Economic Development Coalition for Asheville and Buncombe County; Eblen Charities Foundation; and YMCA of Western North Carolina. Dr. Baldwin also chairs the Region 8 Superintendents Council, representing the 18 westernmost school systems in the state.
Tony’s wife Angela is a retired labor and delivery room nurse from Memorial Mission Hospital. They have four children and five grandchildren with a sixth grandchild on the way in January!
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in high school athletics during your time in education?
One of the most significant changes has been the shift in balance among the multitude of sports that are offered beneath the NCHSAA umbrella. In my opinion, the traditional labels of major and minor sports have slowly disappeared. The ever increasing attention to the health and safety of our student athletes in all sports has been a highly positive area of growth. Another area of growth and enhancement I have witnessed lies in the comprehensive education of our coaches, in terms of better coaching for student-athletes through quality teaching, nutritional health and conditioning, character building and social mentoring.
Finally, I would note the subtle shift in focus on the high school athletic experience as a powerful foundation of learning to prepare young people to obtain and perfect the “soft skills” attributed to success in the careers of the 21st century global environment!
How would you describe your experience as a member of the Board of Directors of the NCHSAA?
I would describe my participation on the Board as certainly one of the best professional experiences that I have had in my administrative career.
First, the quality and character of all the individuals that I have served with has been exceptional. Through the professionalism of the leadership staff, the sessions have been highly organized and structured to maximize everyone’s time and efforts. Regardless of – at times – the significant degree of difficulty in reaching a decision, I have found the Board’s ability to find resolution in such a respectful manner quite remarkable.
What role do you believe athletics can play in the overall atmosphere of a high school and in the community?
High school athletics has the potential to become the community’s core source of pride. As a former high school principal, I can attest to the “power” of a championship caliber athletic team or program in bringing together all the representative components of the community, including differing viewpoints, to unite under one theme – success!
Likewise, the ability for an athletic program or particular sports team to serve as a role model to the community for exhibiting good character and doing the “right thing” is powerful.
What is your best personal memory from your own involvement in athletics?
I have been fortunate to have many positive memories from athletic experiences both as a player and coach. Probably my best set of memories comes from my first head coaching position at Belmont Abbey College in 1980. I had the distinct honor to create the Abbey’s first women’s basketball team and competed in the Carolina’s Conference of the NAIA. In our second season of competition, our team achieved a ranking of 15th in the nation.