Coming & going & coming back again? A tale of two Hall of Fame coaches

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 11:16 PM

Retirement has done little to hinder the coaching career of area prep tennis legend Lindsey Linker and likely will have little effect on cross-town basketball/volleyball coaching great Sherry Norris.

Norris has announced plans to retire from her 37-year teaching career in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, all at Seawell Elementary School, at the end of this month.

Like Linker, who will be inducted into the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame at the Friday Center on the UNC campus tonight some two years removed from her retirement from the East Chapel Hill High School faculty, dual-sport NCHSAA Hall of Famer Norris hopes to continue her coaching career at Chapel Hill after a brief hiatus.

State retirement policy requires teachers to remove themselves from school-related activities for six months after going on the state pension plan, but they are free to resume school-related work after that sit-out period.

Linker, who has coached a total of 16 state boys’ and girls’ dual-team tennis champions first at Chapel Hill and later at East Chapel Hill, retired during the spring semester in 2012 and had to sit out the fall 2012 girls’ tennis season.

Ann Booterbaugh, mother of a line of ECH players, filled in during Linker’s absence. Linker returned for the 2013 boys’ spring season and resumed coaching the girls’ team in the fall. She remains ECH boys’ and girls’ coach.

Norris said Friday that she will have to sit out the fall Chapel Hill volleyball season, but hopes to return to the basketball coaching sidelines for the 2014-15 season as the Tigers attempt to build on their undefeated 2013-14 3-A state championship season.

Norris said she had had enough of working “15 hour days,” which prompted her decision to leave the classroom. But she hasn’t lost any of her enthusiasm for coaching, which has seen her win two state titles in girls' basketball and two more in volleyball and on Thursday saw her named state AP girls' coach of the year.

She is the winningest volleyball coach in state history (732) and has coached 540 girls' basketball wins as well.

Norris said she looks forward to returning to her basketball post if Chapel Hill and athletic director Tim Bennett will have her back. That could also hold true for returning as volleyball coach in 2015 “if there’s a job for me.”

Attempts to reach Bennett for comment were unsuccessful Friday.