CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), in conjunction with the North Carolina Farm Bureau, presented the annual Homer Thompson "Eight Who Make A Difference" Awards on May 2, 2019 at the NCHSAA's Annual Meeting in the Dean E. Smith Center. 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; coaches nominated for exemplary sportsmanship. The awards were presented to one person from each of the Association's eight regions based on nominations received from school personnel. Awardees were Bob Girani from Northside (Pinetown) High School, Cathy Claris from Heide Trask High School, Shira Parris from Rocky Mount High School, Richard Bailey from Scotland County High School, Jerome Dukes from Lexington Senior High School, Kim Montgomery from Ardrey Kell High School, Clay Lewis from Hibriten High School, and Shane Laws from A.C. Reynolds High School.
ABOUT THE AWARD WINNERS
REGION 1 – Bob Girani, Northside (Pinetown) High School Cross Country and Track & Field Coach
Nominated by Assistant Coach Caroline Boyd
"At 84 years of age, Bob is still down-to-earth and dedicated. No excuses, he just keeps working harder. His personality draws in students, and he then makes them develop as athletes, but also as dependable and hard-working young adults. Bob’s main thought is, “It’s worth it if I can give the kids something to work for and keep them off the streets.” Whether it is driving out of the way to drop a student off…looking into their grades…he always goes the “Extra Mile.”
REGION 2 – Cathy Claris, Heide Trask High School Volleyball
Nominated by Athletic Director Ed Gilroy
"Cathy was a pitcher on the very 1st Softball team and UNC. She has coached Softball, Basketball and Cheerleaders. She has kept the scorebook for Basketball and coached Men’s and Women’s Soccer this year. Cathy put off her retirement from the classroom to coach Volleyball. Her team at Trinity won the 1987 State Championship, and she has also officiated the 1993 & 1998 Volleyball State Championships.
Cathy makes a “difference.” She is a great example of education and character-based athletics. She loves her teams and does numerous special things for them…she improves the lives of everyone and turns them into better students, athletes and community members."
REGION 3 – Shira Parrish, Rocky Mount High School Cheerleading and Women's Swimming Coach
Nominated by Athletic Director Michael Gainey
"Shira has a true Gryphon Spirit. She is dedicated to her alma mater and simply stated, gives and gives. She loves helping anyone that needs it. She doesn’t hesitate to do something when needed. The has a great heart! Shira coaches 2 sports and is also one of our guidance counselors. Not knowing how to say “no,” she keeps stats for Basketball and Softball. She is truly a joy to be around. I admire her heart!"
REGION 4 – Richard Bailey, Scotland County High School Football Coach
Nominated by Principal Brian Edkins
"Coach Bailey is a great role model in the community, very visible and active. He has a tremendous impact on his players. His teams march in the Christmas Parade, read to elementary students, help with the Special Olympics…all of this with a smile on his face expecting nothing in return. The challenges from the impact of Hurricane Florence were real…not letting the team or community quit, he adopted a “Why Not Us” mentality that revitalized our team to the State Championship final. Coach Bailey is a blessing…he feeds students that may not otherwise eat…he has paid other’s electric bills…he has taken needy students shopping so they could be proud of their school appearance. He preaches and models sportsmanship, treats opponents with respect, and teaches players to win and lose with dignity."
REGION 5 – Jerome Dukes, Lexington Senior High School Coach
Nominated by Athletic Director Ronnie Beverly
"Coach Dukes is an incredible person who has a spirit for servitude. He has coached almost every sport with the exception of Tennis and Volleyball. He connects with local clergy and organizations for pre-game meals…a great cost savings and allowing student-athletes to gain appreciation from community support. Coach Dukes has the ability to coach “Life.” He connects with students in a way other staff cannot. He teaches how precious life is and to seize the moment. His motto is to always press on for tomorrow and seek to help others. He is truly an ambassador for life and great sportsmanship."
REGION 6 – Kim Montgomery, Ardrey Kell High School Soccer Coach
Nominated by Hickory Ridge Soccer Coach Carrie Maxwell and Providence Head Coach Robb Bolar
"Kim is an ambassador for women’s soccer and is selfless in making a positive impact in the community. A player was paralyzed over the summer in a jet ski accident. Kim organized the “McKeena Strong” Invitational, a 19-team jamboree…Kim had all 19 teams from the event donate a shirt from their program and had a quilt created to give it to the injured player. Her hard work also raised over $5,000 to donate to the family and was able to have her meet the US Women’s National Soccer Team. When there is a need, Kim finds a way to solve the problem. She demonstrates not only what great coaches can do for a community, but also exhibits the character and leadership that all young people should aspire to emulate."
REGION 7 – Clay Lewis, Hibriten High School Football Coach
Nominated by Athletic Director Derek Reeves and Principal David Colwell
"I was informed of a senior student, needing only 2 classes to graduate but was on the verge of dropping out of school. The student had a lifelong history of depression and homelessness. I asked Coach Lewis to meet with the young man. Coach Lewis spent over 2 hours with the young man and his mother. It was an emotional meeting which ended in optimism because of Clay’s influence. He turned the situation around. Coach Lewis is respected by the school and our community as a teacher who cares about every student, whether they are an athlete or not. He constantly reminds his students that completing the last 5 percent of any job is essential to success. He tells them not to “flinch” in the face of adversity. Coach Lewis demands good sportsmanship off the field as much as on it. Our athletes are held to a higher standard, and that standard begins with Coach Lewis on the field and in his classroom."
REGION 8 – Shane Laws, A.C. Reynolds High School Football Coach
Nominated by Buncombe County Athletic Director David Ball
"Shane’s goal as a coach is to develop young men, on and off the field, and prepare them for life’s challenges. He accomplishes this by exemplifying a positive role model to his family of student-athletes in his program. He is a strong leader who emphasizes values of discipline, work ethic and personal responsibility. His expectations in the classroom or the field of play are consistent and clear. 4 years ago, he implemented the philosophy of E + R = O…Event plus Response equals Outcome. Coach Laws, his wife and players lead a Rocket Readers program in elementary schools in the area. When one of his players has not met school-wide expectations academically or behaviorally, he supports the administrative team of the school and sits the player on Friday games. Shane is a team player with the entire school program, even in tough decisions. He makes a difference in young people’s lives with his consistently high standards and expectations."