Nelson Smith, a fixture at Garner High for the last 30 years, was named as the school’s athletic director on Wednesday and will retire from coaching following the 2012 football season.
Smith succeeds Dwight “Doc” Harrell, who is retiring.
“I’ve been involved in football my whole life, 30 years in Garner,” Smith said. “I still enjoy coaching, but after last year (when the Trojans finished 15-1 and played for the state 4AA title), I began thinking it might be time for a change.
“When the chance to be the athletic director here came along, I decided that the timing was right.”
Smith came to Garner as an assistant coach in 1983 when Hal Stewart was named as head football coach. He succeeded Stewart as coach in 2000. Smith’s teams have won 124 of 151 games in 12 seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of good boys who worked hard,” Smith said. “I’ve had some tremendous assistant coaches. The community has been supportive. I’ve been a lucky man.”
Smith told his 2012 prospective players on Wednesday morning that this would be his final season as head coach..
He begins his athletic director duties on Monday, will coach this year’s football team and will be the North Carolina head football coach for the Shrine Bowl Game of the Carolinas in December.
"He is going to be a very busy man for the next six months or so," said Garner principal Drew Cook. "But we are excited to have a person with the respect, knowledge and connections that Coach Smith has in the area and across the state.
"Fortunately, he doesn’t have to right the ship, because Doc Harrell has done a tremendous job as athletic director and leaves the program in very good shape."
Ravens leave: Marcus Bryan and Isaac Copeland, a pair of junior big men who helped Ravenscroft to the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association 3A basketball title in 2012, have enrolled at the Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, Va.
Bryan, 6-foot-6, started for the Ravens while the 6-9 Copeland’s playing time was limited by injuries.
Both will be reclassified as juniors at the boarding private school that was founded in 1878.
“Coming here allows them to focus,” said Miller coach Scott Willard. “They will be up and in the gym by 6 a.m. The coaching staff lives on campus and is available for hours of work.
“And they are able to reclassify. It is like having a prep school year without going to prep school.”
Willard said the formula worked well last season for Kansas recruit Andrew White, who wasn’t on the national recruiting radar when he transferred to Miller two seasons ago.
“You have to work very hard, but things are in place to help the kids improve,” Willard said. “Academically, the classes are very small and you get a lot of individual attention.”
The school has 170 students in grades eight through 12.
Ravenscroft junior Anton Gill, a Louisville commitment, is transferring to Chatham (Va.) Hargrave School.
Hawks coach resigns: Jill Munchick, who coached Holly Springs High to the state softball finals, has resigned the position because of back problems. The Hawks had a 47-8 record in her two seasons.
“It just got to a point where physically I couldn’t do it any more,” Munchick told J. Mike Blake of the Cary News. “There would be good days and bad days. There would be a week where I would feel great and feel like I (could) do everything I needed to do. And there might be a week where I could hardly bend over.”