Rewarding Role Models

By Staff

Athletic Management, 15.5, August/September 2003,

A 2-7 record may not seem like much to cheer about. But when it’s a major turnaround from previous seasons, then it’s an accomplishment well worth celebrating.

That’s why Ronnie House, Wrestling Coach at Lexington (N.C.) Senior High School, was named the latest winner of the West Lamoureaux Jr. Coaches Award. “We looked beyond wins and losses to recognize someone who had really breathed life into a moribund program,” says Lexington Athletic Director Chris Kennedy. “Coach House breathed life into a struggling program by working the halls and getting kids to come out. His energy, enthusiasm, and work ethic rubbed off on his wrestlers almost immediately. Seeing young men walk around the school proud to be wrestlers—a few even qualified for the state finals—was a real turnaround for the team. It was all a result of Coach House’s dedication to his kids and his program.”

Established by the Lexington Educational Athletic Foundation—booster club to Lexington High School—the Lamoureaux Award is presented twice a year, at the fall and spring sports banquets. The award recognizes an outstanding coach who “exemplifies the highest teaching/coaching practices, while also demonstrating and modeling characteristics of sportsmanship, positive leadership, and good character during his or her season. He or she is the role model that student-athletes, parents, and educators respect both on and off the court.”

All Lexington head and assistant coaches are eligible for the award. Winners are chosen by a special selection committee comprising Kennedy, the principal, the president of the booster club, and a parent. “We solicit nominations from the school community,” says Kennedy. “We’ve had coaches win for a number of reasons, but none for having the best record in a sport.”

Lexington Football Coach Billy Hunt received the first Lamoureaux award in fall 2001, followed by Boys’ Head Basketball Coach Don Corry in spring 2002, Girls’ Tennis Coach Deborah Arnold in fall 2002, and House this past spring.

“The year Coach Hunt won, the football team had a losing record,” Kennedy says. “Some coaches are programmed to think of the success of their seasons in terms of wins and losses, so this award recognizes improvement, dedication, and hard work.”

“Coach Hunt has done so much for our student-athletes and is probably best known for treating every kid—from the star down to the last guy in the game—with care and respect,” continues Kennedy.

The Lamoureaux Award was the brainchild of two booster club board members. “Our booster club had created several awards for our student-athletes, but we felt that it was also important to recognize the positive coaching role models that we had at our high school,” says Jim Simeon, a board member.

The board chose to name the award after Lamoureaux, a former teacher, coach, assistant principal, and athletic director at Lexington. “He was always more concerned with the character lessons our athletic program was providing our young men and women than he was with wins and losses,” Simeon says. “But he was also always competitive to the core. We felt he exemplified the reasons that high school athletics exist in our system.”

The booster club also created a similar award, named after former Lexington Middle School coach and teacher Bob Byerly, that is presented annually to a middle school coach. This year’s Byerly Award winner is Jan Thomas, longtime coach and current Athletic Director at Lexington Middle School.

Simeon says response to the award program has been very positive, especially from the winners. “They feel very honored in two respects,” he says. “That their long hours and tireless energy have been recognized as valuable to our student-athletes, and also because it had been named after such fine individuals as West and Bob.”

Kennedy is particularly proud that the last two award winners were from women’s tennis and wrestling. “It really shows the diversity and inclusiveness of the award program,” he says. “The best part is our staff has been supportive of those who have won. There’s always something special about being recognized, and given the people we have involved in this process it’s both a professional and personal honor.”

“We felt it was very important that the individuals selected be held in high esteem by their fellow faculty members,” adds Simeon, “not because of their won and loss record, but because of their qualities as a teacher. We select individuals who are positive role models for our student-athletes in the classroom, on the playing field or court, and also in their daily lives.”