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50 years later

South Boston News / April 23, 2020

When Sid Young came to Halifax County High School in 1969 no one probably had the idea that he would teach and coach for 50 years in the Halifax County school system.

Young came to Halifax after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in geology and geography. He got his first teaching position at the high school through job placement at the college.

“At Appalachian they had I guess a placement office that would help you find jobs,” Young said. “The principal and assistant principal who took over at Halifax High School in the fall of ’69, had done their degree work at Appalachian. Anyway they put in at the office and said they were looking for a geography teacher that wanted to coach football and that was me.”

Though Young had played various sports, he didn’t really have any experience coaching. But he believed he had a good foundation to become a good coach.

“Well, I had always been interested in it I’m not sure exactly why,” Young said of coaching. “And I was fortunate I had good coaches in high school as far as soccer and track in college I had a coach that made an impact on my life. They were good fellows. So that’s what sparked my interest in it.”

Young played organized baseball with his church league as he was growing up. His first introduction to sports was like most kids, in his yard.

“Started off playing baseball for a church league we had there; I lived in Charlotte for about eight years before we moved to Boone,” Young said. “I think when I was a freshman, ninth grade, I made the team at the junior high, didn’t play a lot but I made the team. Next year went to high school played jayvee and then moved to Boone and then lettered there two years in football.”

Appalachian High School would also be where Young won a state football championship, the first year he was at the school.

“It wasn’t anything I did,” Young remembers. “But yeah, they won a state championship, they had won a couple of others I think.

“Fantastic coach,” Young continued speaking of his high school coach. “The thing I really learned from him, his offense and defense were based on the personnel he had coming in. He didn’t try fit you into a set pattern or something. The terminology was the same. My junior year we had a high school All-American.”

Young went on to say that All-American went off to Duke and made All-American as a middle linebacker and then played for Miami 13 years as a linebacker. “You know outstanding athlete. You know we had good athletes; he was exceptional.”

Making the Appalachian State football team was no walk in the park. He made the point if you survived until the final day of practice, you had accomplished more than most did. Young stated after that experience he began to pick up other sports.

“I had an idea of playing college football and we had a new head coach,” Young said. “We had 65 guys show up for practice and six weeks later the last day of practice, there were 19 of us standing. I weighed 155 pounds and I played like I was going to be a back or safety. “

“I played line in high school and when I wound up playing a defensive tackle across from a scholarship tackle, I decided, I better do something else.”

That something else was soccer and skiing, yes snow skiing.

“When I first went to Appalachian I played soccer in the fall, didn’t know a thing about it,” Young said.

“At Appalachian it’s PE class (snow skiing) because they had a ski slope, Appalachian Ski Mountain and they had a deal with the college. You’d go out two days a week, three hours and they fitted you up with skis and all.

“I enjoyed that, it was difficult at first but I enjoyed it and wound up working ski patrol and we had a little bit of a team, I guess you’d call it, club as it were and we were into racing and stuff but I enjoyed skiing.”

The coach who calls Boone N.C., home, “That’s what I count as home. We moved there just before my junior year in high school. And we bought a home there so I consider it home,” says his coaching jobs with the Comets and Lions have been varied.

He moved to Halifax Junior High, formerly Mary Bethune High School, in 1970 when the schools were integrated. He was the head football coach for 18 years.

“I did track as much as anything, 10 years,” coach said of his coaching positions at the junior high. “I was at baseball for three years and basketball for three years and wasn’t that knowledgeable about basketball.

“I would watch the ninth grade practice and then try to do what they did. I had some good athletes so that made it kind of neat.”

Always one to better himself, Young decided to go back to college in 1982. He noted he just felt it was time to earn an advanced degree.

“I guess I was at the point where I felt like I needed to work on master’s (degree) or something,” Young explained. “I thought one time about guidance but that didn’t fit or work out.

“But there was a doctoral candidate at U.Va. She was assistant athletic trainer at the university and I think it was her doctoral dissertation she worked up a program for coaches in the field and started out with just the basic courses in athletic training, how to diagnose things a little bit, how to tape.

“We had to certify as EMT so that was a neat class. There was a group of us in Lynchburg and then there was another group in Winchester, the northern part of the state, and there was enough interest in it that they decided to go ahead and expand it by the time we had about 12 or 15 semester hours in the athletic training program.”

Young said they did two, six-week periods at U.Va. and also a period that was shorter period, and we were able to earn a master’s degree at U.VA. in sports medicine and athletic training. “I learned a lot and it was very helpful in coaching, and working with kids who were hurt and all.”

Young would eventually returned to coaching at the high school from 1986 to 1988 where he was an assistant football coach to Coach Fred Palmore.

Young’s coaching legacy will forever be cemented with girls soccer at HCHS. In 1989 Young was asked to help out Coach Jim Barczak who had started soccer at the school. Young coached coed soccer until 1996 when the girls got their own varsity team.

“He (Barczak) had started soccer in the mid to late 70’s and he had done a good job with it but he had some health problems,’ Young said. “I was one of the few in the county who played soccer, much less even seen a game.

“I’d been out of it for about 10 years or so it had changed a lot. But I enjoyed it had some good kids.”

Young said it was his oldest daughter KB that influenced him becoming the girls coach. Young said his youngest daughter, Morgan also played and both girls were decent athletes.

“My oldest daughter KB, she’s the one that talked me into coaching the girls,” Young said. “So I moved over her senior year and I didn’t get to see her play a lot in the four years she was playing because we play, they’re away; that type of thing. So yes, she played – she was an excellent player tennis player and she played soccer for me.

“And then my younger daughter Morgan, soccer was her first love. She grew up around it coming to the games and all. She played collegiately at Christopher Newport for about three years and then with injuries, school being harder and all, getting into your major’s program so she decided to go ahead and drop it which is fine. I told her she was playing for her, not for me.”

Young said his decision to retire was emotional. He noted he had some health issues himself yet still wanted to be a part of the team.

“I had been debating it all summer; had kids coming back that I really looked forward to coaching for their senior year and all,” Young said. “But I’ve got some health issues and the thing that really made me decide to go ahead and retire was I had some issues with my back and legs that made it hard to walk.

“I have prostate cancer and they were going to start me on some new medicine. I hated doing it but at the same time it was in a way a relief too.

“You know, I enjoyed the kids a lot. I really enjoyed coaching the girls. I’ve coached guys, but the girls, they seem to listen better than the guys do.”

Young referenced a favorite book of his to make his point.

“One of the best books I ever read was by Tony DiCicco and he’s the man that coached the women to the first world Cup Championship and he wrote a book about coaching women and he called it “Catch Them Being Good” Young continued.

“But he said the biggest thing the guys when you talk to them or are fussing at them they’re sitting there going, he can’t be talking about me – the girls are over there going oh, he’s talking about me. They take it personally, they listed better” Young said laughing.

Young also commented that his heart went out to all the spring sports student-athletes, especially the seniors.

“Well you know, you feel sorry especially for the seniors,” young said. “They don’t get this back, it’s done. We’ve got a couple that are exceptional players, we’ve got a couple that are going on to college they’ll play Division 3.

“But you know, they don’t get that back. And you really feel for them. Hopefully we’ll get this thing taken care of.

The other kids will get a chance to play. But missing that year or so that is going to hurt a lot not being able to play this year, the ones coming up. I really feel sorry for the seniors ‘cause they just don’t get it back.”

Young expressed that former Comet athletes that are senior players in college who could possibly have another season of eligibility also face challenges when determining whether they should go back to school or just graduate.

“It’s kind of an awkward situation,” Young explained. “I know with my eligibility - I got to play in the fall, cause I missed one season - so my last year I got to get another year and if you’re getting ready to graduate and you come back and take that time that kind of slows you up on getting out and getting a job and all.

“I’ve got a cousin that lives in Tennessee and has coached for a long time. He’s a big fan of East Tennessee State and they were going to the playoffs this year and all of a sudden, it’s dead, it’s gone. Their coach did petition to see if the kids can come back another year but that’s still a big if – if you’re paying for college – that’s a lot there.”

Young said though he misses coaching, He’s content being with his wife, Marsha, his daughters and most of all his grandkids.

“The biggest thing is I enjoy my grandkids,” Young said. “I’ve got two young granddaughters; I enjoy them a great deal.

“I enjoy reading history especially about the American Revolution and the South. I had some ancestors who were involved in that so kind of interested in that and been reading a whole lot about that.

“Don’t play much golf anymore. I enjoy church. I always enjoyed that. I’ve been there for 50 years and enjoyed it well. The pastor in Boone where we went to church was good friends with the pastor up here at First Baptist. I think my mother had him call Dr. Cale. And Dr. Cale came and got me, invited me to church and that’s where I’ve been going.

“I would like to travel some. I would like to go back up in the mountains where my father is from, visit some of the old home places.

“We did that last summer. Wife and I spent a day in Mitchell County N.C., enjoyed looking at it. But having time with the grandkids that’s the big thing and visiting with family and all.”

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