Community honors Lumberton (N.C.) High coach and mentor

August 6, 2012
By Chris Saunders
Read being honored in Lumberton in June. Photo courtesy of Brad Crawford at The Robesonian.

Read being honored in Lumberton in June. Photo courtesy of Brad Crawford at The Robesonian.

Finley Read ’60 remembers when golf was first introduced as a varsity sport at Lumberton High School in Lumberton, N.C., where Read coached football, basketball and baseball during the 1960s and 1970s. The school’s new principal told Read he would be the new golf coach, too, and that all the matches were going to be on Saturday.

“That was my day to fish,” Read says, laughing.

For 15 years, Read touched many lives of students involved in multiple sports as a coach at Lumberton High. He answered an ad for a coaching gig at Lumberton High in The News & Observer after graduating with an education degree from NC State in 1960.

He coached at Lumberton High until 1975, then became the school’s assistant principal until he fully retired in the mid-1980s. Recently, 350 of his friends, family and former players honored him for Read’s impact on them and the Lumberton community.

“It was just a group of boys that enjoyed what people did for them,” says Read, who now lives in South Carolina. “I told them, ‘You all are making Thomas Wolfe a liar because you can go home again.'”

Football was always Read’s favorite sport to coach. He enjoyed coaching in Lumberton so much because of the small, close-knit community, which just had a dairy bar, a drive-in and a dance hall when he got there in 1960. “I always laughed and joked that they never paid me enough to get out of town,” he says, explaining why he stayed so long.

Read at NC State in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Read at NC State in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Coaching had always been a goal for Read, even before he got to NC State. But he says the Wolfpack coaching staff he played under in the mid-to-late 1950s — head coach Earle Edwards and assistant Carey Brewbaker, after whom Read named his son — made him value the profession even more. In 1957, with Read at defensive end, NC State won the school’s first ACC championship in football.

Read is not sure that today’s coaches see the bigger picture to what they’re doing. But he says a coach eventually sees the impact, like he did when he was surprised by the 350 people lined up ready to honor him at the June event.

“I think for a lot of coaches, maybe what they’re doing right this minute may not seem that important,” he says, “but they’re touching people’s lives.”

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