Linker, Odom head into NCHSAA Hall of Fame
Longtime tennis coach Lindsey Linker and former Durham High basketball coach Dave Odom are among the 2013 class for enshrinement into the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame as announced Monday.
“I am floored by it,” Linker, who coaches at East Chapel Hill after starting her career at Chapel Hill High, said Monday evening. “Completely, completely humbled.
“There is no higher honor than that. If you’re a coach in North Carolina, I can think of no higher honor.”
Linker and Odom will be joined by former Duke assistant football coach Sam Story, who went on to win a state championship at Burlington Williams, when this year’s Hall of Fame class is inducted next spring. The group will be honored during halftime of the North Carolina-Boston College football game at Kenan Stadium on Oct. 26.
The other inductees are Cindi Simmons, who coached volleyball at schools in Jackson County; Ron Vincent, who coached baseball at schools in Pitt County; Shelly Marsh, who coached basketball in Pitt, Craven and Johnston counties; Bobby Guthrie, baseball in Scotland, New Hanover and Wake counties; Jack Huss, football in Richmond and Gaston counties, also leading golf teams and working as an official.
“Their accomplishments are impressive, but the character they exemplify and the lives they touched are truly representative of what the NCHSAA stands for,” NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield said.
Linker had a full ride out of Myers Park High School in Charlotte in 1976 to play tennis at N.C. State, but she turned in down and walked on at UNC.
“Carolina was just in my blood,” Linker said, referring to her father and one of her brothers who attended UNC. She had another brother who went to N.C. State.
After earning undergraduate and master’s degrees from UNC, Linker taught at Chapel Hill High School, where she coached tennis.
A decade of teaching appeared to be enough for Linker, who went into sales. But after two years of that, Linker said she knew that the classroom was where she needed to be. Linker found a teaching job at Chapel Hill’s Culbreth Middle School, where she coached tennis for two seasons.
Around that time, East Chapel Hill was opening and Linker was offered an opportunity to become its tennis coach. But she said the timing didn’t seem right since she was having a house built in Carrboro, plus she was contemplating using her second master’s degree in counseling.
Linker couldn’t shake the gratitude that she’d found only in the classroom. Approached again about both teaching and coaching at ECH, she couldn’t resist.
“I just couldn’t stay away,” Linker said. “It was in my blood.”
Linker, 55, retired after three decades with the state and took a mandatory six-month leave before returning last season to coach at ECH.
“I knew my passion for coaching was still there,” Linker said.
In 10 seasons, Linker’s Chapel Hill boys’ and girls’ teams went 294-39, winning two NCHSAA dual team titles and producing four individual state champions.
From 1998-2013, Linker’s ECH squads had 11 individual state champions and 14 state dual team titles to go with nearly 600 victories.
Linker, who has been a conference coach of the year 39 times, said she was the on the first girls’ track team at Myers Park, and she appreciates the variety of sports offered these days to all students.
Odom is known as the Wake Forest University basketball coach who plucked Rodney Rogers out of Hillside High School and groomed him for a long career in the NBA.
Longtime San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan played for Odom at Wake Forest, as did Randolph Childress, a brilliant shooter.
“When I’m out in public and people recognize me and speak to me, they do it most of the time from the perspective of (me) being a former college coach in the Atlantic Coach Conference,” Odom said.
Odom, who also led basketball programs at East Carolina and South Carolina, has a 409-274 record as a college coach who guided teams in nine NCAA tournaments. His teams won three of the six National Invitation Tournaments they were in, and Odom has a couple of ACC tournament titles on his resume.
But Odom said he his most proud of what he did from 1965-76 as a high school basketball coach, first at Goldsboro High School, where he was a three-sport athlete.
“There’s where my career started, at the high school ranks,” Odom said. “I think that’s still where athletics mean the most.”
High school coaches mostly work with the players who land on their benches, promoting character, academics and athletics, Odom said.
Odom said he was coaching in Durham when Hillside’s John Lucas Jr. was doing great things with the basketball, and would-be UNC point guard Phil Ford was dazzling in Rocky Mount.
Odom, 70, said his inclusion in the NCHSAA Hall of Fame is special because of his great love for this state.
“When I got that word, it put me in select company,” Odom said.