NCHSAA announces 2020 Commissioner’s Choice Awards

CHAPEL HILL — Commissioner Que Tucker of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) is pleased to present two Commissioner's Choice Awards for the 2019-2020 academic year. One is awarded to Sammy Carden from Durham Coca-Cola and the other is awarded to one to J.J. Knox from Eastern Alamance High School. These awards are presented when merited for extraordinary service to the state's high school athletic program as selected by the Commissioner of the NCHSAA. The Commissioner’s Choice Awards debuted during the 1990-91 academic year as the Executive Director’s Choice Awards.

About the Recipients

Sammy Carden - University Concessions for Durham Coca-ColaSammy Carden – Durham Coca-Cola

Behind the scenes there is always an unsung hero making things happen. For the NCHSAA football and basketball championships hosted in Chapel Hill, Sammy Carden is one of those heroes. Carden is native to Granville County and attended South Granville High School where he played football and ran track. He oversees University Concessions for Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Durham NC and this summer marks the beginning of his 50th year with the company. Sammy has serviced the NCHSAA Football and Basketball State Championships at UNC-Chapel Hill for more than 25 years, quenching the thirst of many fans! Sammy not only delivers product, but services his customers with professionalism, and most importantly, a “servant spirit”—friendly, helpful, doing anything he can that will satisfy the coaches and spectators.

Commissioner Tucker noted, “Any time the NCHSAA has been in need of refreshments for our championships, Sammy Carden has been there to provide them. I am pleased to honor Sammy with this award for his status as a true friend of high school athletics and the Association. The award represents just a small token of our appreciation for his service to the student-athletes, fans and members of the NCHSAA.”

J.J. Knox (2009, courtesy Womack Publishing/Mebane Enterprise)J.J. Knox – Eastern Alamance High School

J.J. Knox has been involved with Eastern Alamance’s track and field and cross-country teams for more than 40 years. Knox started the cross-country program at the school in 1979, marking the first such program in Alamance County. He became coach of the track and field program in 1981 and started the indoor track and field program in 1980. Knox retired from coaching in 2001 but continues works with the team. In 2007, the track at Eastern Alamance was named in his honor. In the spring, Eastern Alamance holds the J.J. Knox Invitational, a track and field meet that attracts schools across the state. 

Knox is also a staple at NCHSAA events track and cross-country events serving for many years as Meet Director for regionals in both cross country and outdoor track and field in addition to service as a Meet Timer for host schools in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. He has worked every cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track state meet as an official in various roles. Coach Knox loves every minute of his work with these events and never looks for accolades, payment for services, or rewards.  No matter how long of a day it has been, he always has a smile on his face.

Commissioner Tucker noted, “Every year when I attend the State Track and Field Championships, one of the event highlights for me is to be able to see the smile on J.J. Knox’s face as he serves as a meet official. His dedication to students and his passion for cross-country and track and field shine through in all that he does. It brings me great pleasure to recognize Coach Knox with this award and highlight how grateful we are for his continued commitment to the Association and its members.”