Simon Terrell was a giant in the field of high school athletics. He presided over the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in a time of great change and accomplished great things. Terrell, born in Warrenton in 1924, was a three-sport star at John Graham High school.
After a 3-year stint in the Merchant Marine, he was hired as an emergency teacher/coach at Warrenton. He guided the football team to the only undefeated season in school history; coached the girls and boys basketball teams to county championships and won the league title in baseball.
He graduated from UNC in 1951; while completing his Masters Degree in ’52, he served as assistant Freshman Basketball Coach.
From 1952-54 as all-sports coach and athletic director at Cary High School, Terrell’s two football teams were undefeated, his basketball teams won 55 of 58 games, including a state championship in 1954 and his baseball teams made the state playoffs both years. Terrell moved to Durham High in 1954. His basketball teams made the state playoffs 5 straight seasons, and his golf team won 49 of 50 matches and a state championship.
In 1959 when NCHSAA Executive Secretary “Hap” Perry began looking for a Supervisor of Officials, Terrell’s experience as a player, teacher, coach, official, booking agent and administrator made him the logical choice. His job was to set up the first Official’s Certification program. He set up clinics and exams across the state to establish certification. The program became a model copied by more than a dozen states.
Terrell became Assistant Executive Director of the NCHSAA in 1960 and Executive Director in 1967. At that time there were 4 separate high school athletic organizations in the state. Within a few years, Terrell had guided the consolidation of all 4 groups into the NCHSAA. For the first time since its inception in 1913, the NCHSAA served all of the public schools in the state.
Terrell foresaw the growth of interscholastic athletics for girls and set up a high school advisory committee entirely of women’s coaches in 1967. The NCHSAA adopted the committee’s plan for a girls’ athletic program in 1968, and sponsored its first state championship for girls golf and tennis in 1969-70, two years before national Title IX directives. In 1972, the first girls state basketball championship was held. Later state championships in track and field, swimming, golf, and tenniswere added, plus regional competition in softball and volleyball.
Another Terrell success was an insurance program providing for families of players who suffered disabling injuries or death while participating in high school athletics. Consolidation and realignment of 352 public high schools and eligibility certification for over 100-thousand athletes in 18 varsity sports were important Terrell accomplishments.
Terrell is a member of the NCHSAA and NC High School Athletic Directors HOF’s. The NCHSAA building in Chapel Hill, built in 1978, is named for Simon Terrell. That is most fitting, because it is where he performed his life’s work for the betterment of high school athletics in North Carolina.
Terrell passed away August 18, 2005. He is survived by his wife Betsy, and two daughters, Betsi Devine and husband Mike, and Ann Carlson, and three granddaughters.
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