During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, the NCHSAA website will feature information about African Americans who have made major contributions to the great tradition of high school sports in our state. We hope you find these both entertaining and informative. Our thanks to Rick Strunk, former NCHSAA Associate Commissioner, for his research into many of these articles.
Norvell Lee was an outstanding basketball coach and athletic director at Goldsboro High School as well as several other schools before advancing to the collegiate ranks in 1994 when he took over the basketball program at St. Augustine College. Lee was a teacher and basketball coach from 1958 through 1969 at three different segregated high schools, Swift Creek, Sampson and Dillard High Schools. His teams won seven conference championships during those years, finishing as the state runners-up in 1968 in the NCHSAC (North Carolina High School Athletic Conference), the Association that served African American High Schools in the state during segregation.
In 1969, Lee joined the Goldsboro High School staff as an athletic director, teacher and basketball coach. He was a pillar at Goldsboro High and during his 26-year tenure his Cougar teams compiled a 455-133 record with 19 conference championships. In 1983, Lee led Goldsboro to an appearance in the 4A State Championship Game where they fell to Page 73-55 in the Greensboro Coliseum.
In 1984, Lee was named the head coach of the East team in the NC Coaches’ Associations’ annual East-West All-Star Game and he received a lifetime achievement award from the NCHSAA. He was inducted as one of the charter members of the Goldsboro High School Hall of Fame in 1987.
Lee took over the basketball program at St. Augustine College in 1994 and had great success in his brief tenure with the school. Lee led the Falcons to the school’s first-ever CIAA Tournament Championship in 1997, beating Fayetteville State 70-64. The Falcons had been in the CIAA since 1953 and placed second six times in the event prior to breaking through under Coach Lee.
Tragically, Lee’s time at St. Augustine was cut short, lasting just four seasons. Coach Lee passed away suddenly from a heart attack in 1997 five months after completing the basketball program’s championship season. Coach Lee will be formally inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame along with the Class of 2020.