CHAPEL HILL –Four outstanding individuals from the world of high school officiating will be honored with an award for lifetime achievement.
Bill Cheek of Raleigh, Jack Embree of Asheboro, Larry Leatherwood of Waynesville and Jeter McKinley of Kannapolis are the recipients of the eighth annual Golden Whistle Merit Award, created in a partnership among the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) and the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association (NCADA).
Criteria for the award include 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.
They will be presented their awards at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting on May 1 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
This year’s recipients of the Golden Whistle Merit Award include:
Bill Cheek: A native of Roseboro, Cheek has been an outstanding high school and collegiate basketball official for over 30 years. Among the collegiate conferences in which he has worked are the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), Southern, and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and he received numerous conference tournament, championship finals and other postseason games during his career.
But he has continued to work at the high school level, with numerous NCHSAA regional and state championship assignments. He has served on the Triangle Basketball Officials Association’s Board of Directors, Review Committee, and now serves as clinic leader.
Cheek, who attended Charles E. Perry High School in Roseboro and then North Carolina Central University, has also worked the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece in 2011 and in China four years prior to that.
Jack Embree: Embree, from Asheboro, has had a distinguished officiating career in wrestling with leadership and service for over 40 years, including middle school, high school and collegiate levels of competition. He has officiated in 20 NCHSAA state wrestling tournament championships and seven NCHSAA dual team finals, and also serves as the wrestling rules interpreter for the Central Wrestling Officials Association.
Embree has been selected as one of 12 officials to work the national High School Dual Team Championships at the Disney Duals, and has also been chosen to work the Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio, one of the largest amateur wrestling events in the nation. He was recently inducted into the North Carolina Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He is a graduate of Ramseur High School and attended Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Larry Leatherwood: Leatherwood began officiating in 1972 and has completed his 42nd year with the Western North Carolina Officials Association. His stellar career has included football, basketball for 41 years, and baseball, as he has worked six NCHSAA football championships, three basketball finals and five NCHSAA baseball state championship series.
Leatherwood also has the distinction of being the only person to work in two Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas football games. His impressive collegiate career includes time as a Southern Conference football official, from 1978-95, then 10 seasons in the Southeastern Conference before returning to the Southern Conference for an additional seven years. He worked a total of 337 intercollegiate football games, including 15 postseason assignments.
Leatherwood attended Waynesville Township High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest in 1967 and then his masters from Tennessee. His Ph.D is from George Peabody School for Teachers in 1982.
Jeter McKinley: McKinley, a native of Kannapolis where he attended W.R. Odell High School, started officiating intramural basketball in college in the 1950’s. From there, he wound up joining the Metrolina Athletic Officials Association in football and basketball in 1976 and then later added baseball, soccer and softball to his resume.
However, as valuable as McKinley was as an active official on the field or court, his real impact on officiating has come after he left that role in 1999. He has been a clinician, trainer and evaluator in football, basketball and baseball, and is known as an expert in game rules, training and mechanics. He has served as a mentor for many officials and an ambassador for officiating in a variety of sports.
McKinley holds college degrees from South Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“These four are truly representative of excellence and leadership in officiating,” said Mark Dreibelbis, supervisor of officials for the NCHSAA. “We are extremely proud to honor these individuals who have demonstrated sacrifice and commitment.”