NCHSAA State Award Winners announced for 2015-2016

NCHSAA State Award Winners announced for 2015-2016

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is proud to announce the State Award winners for the 2015-2016 Academic Year. These seven winners represent positions throughout the NCHSAA and have served with distinction in their respective areas of service.

The Association annually presents these statewide awards in seven different categories, all based on those "who have done the most for high school athletics" rather than a single accomplishment or having an outstanding won-loss record. State awards are presented to a male coach, female coach, athletic director, principal, superintendent, sports medicine representative and a media representative. These awards will be presented at the NCHSAA’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 5th at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.


Presented in conjunction with the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA)

Debbie Weaver, Alleghany High School

Debbie Weaver began her career at Alleghany County Schools in 1983 and started coaching volleyball in 1986 at Sparta School. She was named the head volleyball coach at Alleghany High School in 2001 which started a chain of numerous awards, including four Conference Coach of the Year wins capped off by her team taking the 1A State Volleyball Championship this year (2015). Weaver’s time as volleyball coach has been particularly special the past 14 years as her daughter Kelly has been her assistant during that stretch.

Weaver left Alleghany County in 1967 and moved to Staunton, Virginia where she graduated from Robert E. Lee High School before attending The Elizabeth Brant School of Business and returning to her native Alleghany County in 1976. She is the daughter of Bobbie Gambill Duncan and the late J.B. Duncan of Sparta where she now makes her home. She is married to Curtis Weaver and the pair have two children, Nelson and Kelly Weaver, who also live in Sparta.


Presented in conjunction with the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA)

Lance Ware, Shelby High School

Lance Ware is a Shelby native and has coached at his alma mater, Shelby High School, for his entire coaching career. After graduating as a four year letterman at Appalachian State, Ware began his coaching career under NCHSAA Hall of Fame Coach Jim Taylor in 1997. Ware later took up the post of defensive coordinator at Shelby under the direction of another NCHSAA Hall of Fame Coach Chris Norman until Ware took over the head football coaching and athletic director duties in 2011. Amazingly, he is just the fifth head football coach in the school’s history, dating back to 1920.

During his coaching career Coach Ware has coached football, baseball, wrestling and track. He has coached in 9 State Championship football games, with a record of 6-3, while winning the 2A State Championship in 2013, 2014 & 2015 as a head coach with his teams compiling a record of 20-2 in playoff appearances. Lance holds a master’s degree in School Administration from Gardner Webb University. He is the son of the late Larry G. Ware and Linda Ware. He and his wife Catherine have three children, 14-year-old Reece, 12-year-old Stockton, and 5-year-old Presley.


Ronnie Beverly, Lexington High School

New York native, Ronnie Beverly, moved to Lexington, NC in the 1970’s with his mother and brother beginning a path that led him to two football state championships at Lexington High School as a player in 1985 and 1986 before sending him to Winston-Salem State University and the Rams football team in 1987. At Winston-Salem State, Beverly was a part of four CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) Football Championship teams from 1987-1991. He excelled on the field with the Rams, as he was nominated as Division II Black College Sports Freshman All-American Team in 1988 before begin named the school’s Offensive Player of the Year and team Captain in 1991. His success on the field led to an NFL tryout with the Indianapolis Colts in 1992.

Before his time as Athletic Director at Lexington High School, Beverly served in the United States Air Force and worked as Recreation Director and District Supervisor for the City of Winston-Salem. He received a Master’s Degree in Management Science from Troy State University in 1999, a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management from Winston-Salem State University in 1991 and an Associates Degree in Aerospace Ground Technology while in the Air Force in 1999. He has recently served on the NCHSAA Ad Hoc Committee and is past president of the Central Carolina Conference. He was inducted into the Lexington Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.


Ralph Kittley, Northwest Guilford High School

A standout basketball player during his high school days, Ralph Kitley attended several different western North Carolina schools growing up as the son of a Methodist minister. In his final stop of his high school career, he attended North Rowan High School in Spencer where he was named the Most Valuable Player award in the team’s 2A State Championship win in 1986 and was chosen for the East/West All-Star basketball game. He attended Wake Forest University on a basketball scholarship and graduated with a degree in sociology in 1990.

After a stint playing professional basketball in Germany, he returned to the States and began his teaching career. He quickly found himself coaching boys basketball at R.J. Reynolds High School, teaching at the school for five years and coaching boys and girls basketball. After securing a Master’s degree from Gardner Webb in 1998, he began his career in school administration as an assistant principal at Northwest Guilford. He has been the head principal at the Middle College at GTCC-High Point, Southeast Guilford and has been principal at Northwest Guilford since 2009. Northwest Guilford has achieved Honor School of Excellence status under Mr. Kitley’s leadership.


David Burleson, EdD., Avery High School

David Burleson began his career in education at Freedom High School in Morganton, N.C. where he served as a math teacher and coach. After a brief time away at Oak Hill Junior High School, Dr. Burleson returned to Freedom where he was the head principal from 1992 until 1996 when he moved into the associate superintendent’s position in Burke County in 1996. He was promoted to superintendent in 2000, holding that position until 2009. He took up the post as superintendent in Avery County in July of 2011 and has been there since.

During his time as Superintendent of Burke County the school system was awarded the prestigious National Magna Award of Excellenc for its pre-k mobile education on wheels. He also helped develop the Burke County Public Schools’ Drug Policy and Student Code of Conduct, created summer camps for students, procured millionso fo dollard in grant monies to address student need and provide creative programming all while helping to realize alternative educational programs for those who need a different approach to education. During Dr. Burleson’s administration at Burke County Schools, the county experienced the lowest dropout rate in the public school system’s history. In 2014 the Avery County Schools had the highest graduation cohort rate in the state of NC and the school system also enjoyed its lowest dropout rate ever.

Dr. Burleson is highly decorated, earning numerous Principal of the Year Awards both from the regional and state level. He was the North Carolina Middle School Association Superintendent of the Year in 2001 and recently in 2014 was named Avery County Man of the Year. He has been acknowledged for several published articles and innovative presentations. Very active in his church and community, Dr. Burleson is a deacon, Sunday School teacher and active participant in the Morganton Rotary Club, the Tar Heel Association of Principals among many other civic pursuits. He has served the NCHSAA as a committee member on the Athletics and Academics Committee and the NCHSAA’s Realignment Committee. A Civil War and motorcycle enthusiast, Dr. Burleson is married to his wife Beth, the pair have two daughters Heather and Shannon who both have started careers in Raleigh as an attorney and science teacher respectively.


Earl Vaughan, Fayetteville Observer

Earl Vaughan, Jr. has spent his entire career in journalism at his hometown newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer. Vaughan began his work with The Observer as a summer intern in 1972. After his graduation from UNC-Wilmington in 1976 summa cum laude, with honors in English, he joined The Observer writing staff full-time in 1977, all the while covering high school athletics with great passion and dedication. He has served as the chairman of the NCHSAA Athlete of the Year selection committee since the award was instituted in the 1980’s and is a committee member for the NCHSAA’s Hall of Fame.

A decorated sports journalist, Vaughan won first place in the N.C. Press Association’s annual writing contest in 2010. In 1995 he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by then NCHSAA Executive Director Charlie Adams, again awarded by the NCHSAA in 2008 with the Dick Knox Distinguished Service Award and in 2012 was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame. Vaughan was the first-ever winner of this prestigious award in 1986, and is the first two-time winner in the history of the Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year Award.


Karl “Bert” Fields, MD, Cone Health Care System, Greensboro; NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee

Dr. Karl “Bert” Fields has long been a member of the NCHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and has been a member of the Moses Cone Family Medicine Residency faculty since 1984. Dr. Fields currently serves as a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Chapel Hill, teaching medical students, residents and Sports Medicine students since 1980.

A graduate with distinction from the University of Kentucky School of Medicine in 1976 and the Charlotte Memorial Hospital Family Medicine Residency in 1979, Dr. Fields spent a year as Director of Public Health on the island of St. Croix before entering private practice in rural North Carolina in 1980. He has taught students as a visiting professor as far as Australia, Norway, China, South Africa, Chile and Italy, and currently makes his home in Greensboro where he is Fellowship Program Director and Chief of Family Medicine for Cone Health Care System.