NCHSAA recognizes five officials with 2019 Golden Whistle Awards

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2019 Golden Whistle Merit Awards for outstanding officiating service. These awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting at the Dean E. Smith Center on May 2, 2019 in Chapel Hill to Darrell Harrison from Greenville, Suzanne Heath from Chocowinity, Len Reynolds from Greensboro, Walter Savage from Raleigh, and Barbara Vaughn from Canton.

Criteria for Golden Whistle Merit Awards includes demonstrating leadership, performance, service and training for the betterment of officiating, possessing officiating abilities emulated by fellow officials, being regarded as a person of integrity and character, and a minimum of 10 years of experience as an active official. This year marks the 13th annual presentation of this award.

About the Award Winners

Darrell Harrison – Greenville, NC

Darrell Harrison has a long track record of contributing to the success of football officials in eastern North Carolina. He was a member of the Coastal Plains Officials Association from 1977-1999, serving on the Coastal Plains Board of Directors for a time. Harrison has worked multiple Eastern Regional Final in all classifications, called the 1998 4A State Championship game, the 1988 East/West All-Star Game and the 1993 Shrine Bowl Game. Harrison was selected as the 1978 “Rookie of the Year” Award winner in the Coastal Plains Association and in 1991 was named that Association’s “Offical of the Year”. 

Harrison has been an advocate for the avocation of officiating through partnership with Brad Allen and Mike Webster to organize and coordinate the Down East Officials Football Clinic. At the collegiate level, Harrison has worked 304 NCAA Division I football games including the 2009 National Championship Game, two ACC title games, three Cotton Bowls, the 2001 Rose Bowl, as well as ten other bowl assignments. He was recognized with the ACC Commissioner Award in 2014, the highest honor given to an ACC Football Official). Currently, Harrison serves on the ACC Replay Staff and is working as an NFL Scout for Officiating.


Suzanne Heath – Chocowinity, NC

Suzanne Heath has been a true leader and supporter of Swimming & Diving officials both statewide and nationally. Heath has been a mainstay on the deck for the NCHSAA State Championships as well as the NCHSAA Eastern Regional Championships serving as a meet official and Meet Referee since 1998. Heath has been recognized by the NCHSAA numerous times in the past including the Dick Knox Distinguished Service Award in 2007 and the NCHSAA Special Person Award in 2012. 

On a national level, Heath served as a USA National Championship Official in 1991 and was Chief Judge at the US Olympic Trials in 2016. She was named National Times Coordinator for USA Swimming for 1997-1998 and in 2006 was named as chairperson of the Times and Recognition Committee for USA Swimming. In 2012 USA Swimming honored her with the Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award, presented annually to the most outstanding official for the organization. North Carolina Swimming has recognized her work with an Outstanding Service Award and Life Membership to USA Swimming. She also worked NCAA Division I, Division II and Division II National Championships from 2006-2017.


Len Reynolds – Greensboro, NC

Len Reynolds put together an outstanding career officiating multiple sports and serving the NCHSAA as a Regional Supervisor across nearly three decades. Reynolds began officiating multiple sports in 1965 but his knowledge and skill were quickly realized, helping him to become the clinic leader in the Burlington and Greensboro areas. Reynolds worked four NCHSAA Basketball State Championships and the East/West All-Star Game. He retired in 2011 as the Triad Basketball Officials Association Regional Supervisor after nearly 30 years of serving with excellence. 

Reynolds also excelled in football, recognized as the “#1 White Hat” by the North State Football Officials Association. In 1992 he became the Executive Secretary of the North State Officials Association, serving in that role and as Regional Supervisor fo rthe Association for 26 years. Under his leadership, numerous North State officials have been chosen for college staffs in the ACC, Southern Conference, South Atlantic, Old Dominion and other NCAA Conferences.


Walter Savage – Raleigh, NC

After a coaching career in basketball and baseball that saw his teams win three titles, Walter Savage transitioned to officiating the sports of football, basketball and softball for the NCHSAA. Savage has worked State Championships in all three sports and has even officiated at the collegiate level in basketball. He was selected three times to work NCAA post-season assignments in hoops. 

Savage has served as a member of the Triangle Officials Association Review and Grievance Boards in football and basketball. He has worked recreational games for 45 years while mentoring and training officials along the way. Savage said, “I have been blessed to touch many individuals during these 45 years in officiating. I have missed many family birthdays and anniversaries during that time. I pray that my family understands the officiating trips I made were worth it.”


Barbara Vaughn – Canton, NC

An outstanding and decorated educator, coach, and official, Barbara Vaughn has served the students and schools of North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, with great distinction for more than three decades. Vaughn spent 32 years in Waynesville teaching and officiating volleyball. At Waynesville Junior High, Vaughn was a basketball and volleyball coach, as well as Assistant Athletic Director. She has been named the Teacher of the Year at the school as well as in Haywood County. 

Vaughn has officiated volleyball for the NCHSAA for over 15 years and at the collegiate level for more than 30. She is known as a tireless promoter and mentor, empowering those around her to become better students, officials and people. In 1994 & 1995 she was presented the “Award of Excellence in Officiating” for outstanding achievement and commitment to women’s sports in North Carolina. She is a two-time recipient of the “National Women in Sports Day Outstanding Participant Award” and in 2012 was honored with the “Referee Emeritus Award” by the Mid-Atlantic Volleyball Officials Board.