CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is awarding four outstanding individuals from the high school officiating ranks with an award for lifetime achievement.

John Auten of Cherryville, Alphonzo McRae of Proctorville, Toby Thorpe of Albemarle and Roger Morton of Greensboro are the recipients of the tenth annual Golden Whistle Merit Award from the NCHSAA in conjunction with the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) and the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association (NCADA).

The criteria for the award 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 in addition to a minimum of 10 years of experience as an active official.

This year’s recipients of the Golden Whistle Merit Award will be presented at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 5th in Chapel Hill at the Dean E. Smith Center.

John Auten

John Auten has been involved in NCHSAA basketball officiating for more than 30 years as a part of the Rockingham Area Association as well as the Piedmont Officials Association. In addition to years of service on the court, he has supplied highly dedicated, professional leadership in the training of countless officials. He helped develop teaching tools and materials to standardize the teaching focus of pre-season clinics, all while undergoing treatments for his personal battle with cancer.

David Brown of the Piedmont Officials Association said of Auten, “With selfless sacrifice of both family time and finance, Mr. Auten has continued to present himself as a leading voice within our association, even while undergoing very radical surgical procedures which would retire most of us from this avocation.” He continued, “His message has always been to emphasize our ultimate mission: the student-athletes we support with our work on the court, above all politics and differences of leadership (within the officials association).”

Alphonzo McRae

As a teacher, coach, central office administrator at the central office of Robeson County Public Schools and now as Vice-President at Robeson Community College, Alphonzo McRae has dedicated himself to the service of young people.  After a standout career as a player in high school and at Pembroke University, McRae’s dedication as a game official demonstrated his commitment to integrity, hard work and fair play all while serving with distinction as an educator. McRae has worked one state championship game in football, two basketball championships, the East/West football and basketball games as well as the North/South Basketball Classic and the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

Brad Allen, an NFL official as well as NCHSAA Regional Supervisor described McRae by saying, “In one of the most economically-challenged counties in all of North Carolina, Al McRae has served as a mentor, leader and role model for countless young people, including many student-athletes that have become game officials.” Allen continued, “He has performed exemplary work in the recruitment of officials from diverse cultural backgrounds and continues to be a fixture in the civic, cultural and public service elements of his community.”

Roger Morton

After 34 years as an NCHSAA basketball official as well as time at the NCAA and NAIA level in both soccer and basketball, the resume for Roger Morton is quite the list of the top assignments for any official. He was the youngest NCAA Division I official at 19 years of age when he worked for the MEAC. He is a past president of the Triad Basketball Officials Association. Morton was awarded the Dick Knox Distinguished Service Award by the NCHSAA.

Morton has worked the East/West Soccer All-Star game, an NCHSAA basketball state championship, many NCAA conference championships, and has been selected for 18 consecutive years to work NCAA post-season soccer. He has had the honor of working the NCAA Division I and II men’s national championship game in soccer, the NCAA Division I women’s soccer nation championship game and an NAIA and National Junior College national championship game. Currently, Morton serves as an NCHSAA regional supervisor, the supervisor of the Southern Conference, Carolinas Conference Coordinator of Officials as well as the NCAA National Coordinator for Soccer in Region III. He also served as the Officials representative to the NCHSAA Board of Directors for 8 years.

Toby Thorpe

A distinguished member of the NCHSAA officiating community for more than 43 years, Toby Thorpe began his officiating career in Watauga County before moving back to his native Stanly County and continuing his exceptional service. Through his work in the parks and recreation profession, Thorpe has worked tirelessly to ensure life-long opportunities for wellness and sport in North Carolina. Thorpe began his career as an official in parks and recreation games at age 16 and that work blossomed into three football state championships and many playoff assignments in other sports.

Thorpe has been a lead clinician for both the Metrolina and North State officials association, which have allowed him to serve as a mentor, role model and overall leader for countless officials across the state. Brad Allen, NFL Official as well as NCHSAA Regional Supervisor said, “There may be no person more suited to be an ambassador than Toby Thorpe, who, despite amassing a vast knowledge and an incredible level of experience as an official, has maintained a kind demeanor and a smile on his face.”


2007 – Bill Kelly

            Joe Jones

            Art Capper

2008 – Brenda Halford

            Jerry Johnson

2009 – Brad Allen

            Ron Sebastian

            Russell Ward

2010 – Don Lucas

            Cart Howerton

            Doug Fagan

2011 – David Gaskins

            Bill Freeman

            Wendell Hampton

2012 – Neil Buie

            William Covington

            Jack Huss

            Dan Dougherty

2013 – Ted Jackson

            Tim Brayboy

            Ron Buckner

            Vierl Banks

2014 – Larry Leatherwood

            Bill Cheek

            Jack Embree

            Jeter McKinley

2015 – Charles “Slim” Carriker

            Wiley Barrett

            Larry Honeycutt

            Harry Helmer