There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of youth, recreational and middle school coaches in Lenoir County over the past 50 years.
However, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who’s had more influence – or who commands more respect – than Coley Little.
Little will be inducted into the Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Hall’s new permanent home at the Woodmen Community Center. Tickets for the ceremony are now available at The Free Press and at the Woodmen Center.
For nearly four decades, Little taught or coached at several schools in the county, including Adkin and Kinston High School, along with Adkin, Rochelle and Harvey Middle School. He helped shape young minds in the classroom but helped many young men and women become outstanding athletes on the basketball court, the football and baseball fields and on the track.
“As a member of the inaugural (Kinston/Lenoir County Sports) Hall of Fame class, I cannot think of any other student-athlete, coach or administrator who is more deserving of this honor,” said Lin Dawson, who played football at Kinston High School and N.C. State before a long career for the New England Patriots. “You would be hard-pressed to find another head coach in any state who has coached as many different sports at several schools with the level of success he obtained.”
Little started the uber-successful Rochelle Middle School basketball program – and his teams promptly ran off a 55-1 record in the first four years of its existence. In the two decades since he created it, the “Little” Vikings have never lost a home game.
“He started that tradition at Rochelle … and even today, young coaches still seek his counsel,” Dawson noted. “Despite all his success, he is quick to mention, ‘It’s all about the kids.’ ”
Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Director Bill Ellis has admired Little since Ellis arrived in town.
“He’s an outstanding coach and leader of young people,” Ellis said. “But what has impressed me the most about Coach Little is his concern for kids. It doesn’t matter if they’re rich or poor, Coach Little shows every kid the same amount of respect – and that’s why they love him so much.”
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who was a student of Little’s in middle school, said Little’s influence extends outside the sports realm.
“He wasn’t just a mentor to student-athletes, he was also very important to students, too,” Murphy said. “He has always been known to be a very fair man. He was always willing to offer a word of encouragement to anyone.”
When contacted and told he was going to be a member of the 2012 KLCSHOF class, Little exhibited his characteristic humility.
“I’m honored, but I’m thankful for the young people who played for me,” Little said. “This honor is because of them.”
Bryan C. Hanks can be reached at 252-559-1074 or atBryan.Hanks@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at BCHanks.
Coley Little career highlights
n Recognized throughout Lenoir County as one of the best middle school coaches in history
n Established Rochelle Middle School basketball program and led “Little” Vikings to 55-1 record in first four years of program’s existence
n Mentored many young men and women over a four-decade career
Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame
The Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its fourth class on Saturday at the Woodmen Community Center, the new permanent home of the KLCSHOF. The Free Press is running a series of articles by Ryan Herman and Bryan C. Hanks on all 10 new inductees and the teams that will be honored at the ceremony. Here is the schedule for the stories:
Monday, Oct. 8: Doug Bruton
Tuesday, Oct. 9: Otis Clark
Wednesday, Oct. 10: Thomas Cole
Thursday, Oct. 11: Pat Crawford
Friday, Oct. 12: Wayne Floyd
Saturday, Oct. 13: Vincent Jones
Sunday, Oct. 14: North Lenoir High School girls basketball — 1964-67
Today: Coley Little
Tuesday: Hugh Pollock
Wednesday: South Lenoir High School boys basketball — 1968-69
Thursday: Carolyn Goodley Souther
Friday: Fred Williams
Saturday: Grainger High School boys basketball — 1963-65
Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame
The Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Woodmen Community Center, the new permanent home for the KLCSHOF. Tickets cost $30. This year’s class includes: Douglas “Doug” Bruton, Otis Clark, Thomas George Cole, Pat Crawford, Wayne Floyd, Vincent Jones, Coley Little, Linwood Hugh Pollock, Carolyn Goodley Souther and Fred Williams. Boys basketball teams from Grainger (1963-64, 1964-65) and South Lenoir (1968-69) and girls teams from North Lenoir (1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67) will also be recognized for their past achievements.
Tickets can be purchased at the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation offices located upstairs at the Woodmen Community Center or at The Free Press.
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