Looking for the perfect last-minute Father’s Day gift?

nchsaaNative North Carolinians or anyone familiar with the state’s rich athletic history will love the 100-year anniversary book published by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association entitled Inspiring Individuals, Encouraging Excellence.

Written by long-time News & Observer prep sports writer Tim Stevens (the absolute perfect choice) and filled with both memorable old pictures and spectacular color action photos, the book celebrates the first century of the NCHSAA with an amazing lineup of stories of mostly-familiar but also lesser-known stories of the greatest high school athletes, coaches and administrators.

The expertly written and beautifully designed horizontal coffee table book is dedicated to all the “athletes, coaches, administrators and fans” and is in memory of UNC President Bill Friday, who championed high school sports in North Carolina along with his many other causes. It also carries a foreword from ACC Commissioner John Swofford, the former athletic director at UNC whose prep career began in North Wilkesboro and, despite all the others who have aided Swofford’s long and successful journey, he singles out his old high school football coach Red Hoffman.

The book is also impeccably organized with six chapters: from the first 50 years, through the important story of public school integration, into the growth of women’s high school sports, to the playoffs and championships that exploded when moved onto college campuses, the powerhouse individual athletes and dynasty teams, and a look at the next century under new NCHSAA Executive Director Davis Whitfield, a former assistant commission of the ACC.

The stories are bountiful, rich and moving – from Raleigh High School’s 16-boy undefeated football team that capped a 9-0 season by beating Asheville High 117-0 to win the 1914 state championship; through Charlie Justice’s high school career before he returned from the Army to become “Choo Choo” at UNC, through Rocky Mount’s all-sport star Danny Talbott, who won two state championships in high school, quarterbacked the UNC Tar Heels and led the baseball team to the 1965 College World Series (appropriate, don’t you think?).

The division of all-white and all-black high schools is covered poignantly through eventual integration that produced some incredible teams and gave the proper publicity to star athletes who had been hidden in the shadows.

Coach Willie Bradshaw’s 1943 Hillside High football team went 8-0 and shut out every opponent.  As good as Pete Maravich was for Broughton High School in the early 1960s, Lawrence Dunn of the all-black Berry O’Kelly School in Raleigh might have been The Pistol’s equal. But Dunn never got a chance to compete against Maravich or even show his stuff in post-season all-star games.

Once integration came, there was no more shining example than Coach Henry Trevathan’s three straight 4A state championship teams at Wilson Fike High school. Carlester Crumpler was the only black player on those teams that blocked for  “Crump” on his way to more than 4,000 career yards rushing and 40 touchdowns, including 26 his senior season.

Crumpler went on to East Carolina, but the book has touching stories of three who did not get that far. Basketball star John “Goat” Bullock left Durham High mysteriously after a spectacular sophomore season and was never heard from again. Pat White of Raleigh Ligon, considered perhaps the greatest all-around athlete in the state’s history, tragically died of cancer at age 19. Louisburg star defensive end “Crow” Patterson went on to Marshall but perished with the Thundering Herd football team in the horrific plane crash of 1970.

NCHSAA StackhouseStevens tells all the stories so well because he covered many of them and researched all of them. The coaches like Greensboro Grimsley’s Bob Jamieson, the visionary who demanded excellence in the classroom as well as on the field, Wilmington’s Leo Brogden, the high school coach for future N.C. Stated star Roman Gabriel, and Bob Paroli, the architect of great football teams at Burlington Cummings and Fayetteville 71st are among the many coaches whose stories are told so expertly by Stevens.

The greatest college basketball players who started in their home state – Maravich, David Thompson, Phil Ford, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan and Jerry Stackhouse (pictured left) are at the top of the list.

A photo of the 1923 Charlotte Central High School girls’ basketball team leads off the Women in Sports Section that chronicles the inclusion of girls’ organized teams after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

But the great Cary High School girls of 1947-51 never got to play for any kind of state title (until girls playoffs were added in 1972), and neither did Taylorsville, whose 5-foot-11 forward Kay Wilson Hammer scored 104 points in 29 minutes of a 1963 game against Marion. Coach Pat Gainey took her out, thinking the state record was 102 points but later finding out that it was 107. “I’ve always regretted that,” Gainey said of not leaving Wilson in for a few more minutes and points.

More individual young women are also highlighted, such as record-holding and Olympic long-jumper Kathy McMillan of Raeford, basketball stars Molly Colvard of Nathan’s Creek and Shea Ralph of Fayetteville Terry Sanford, Durham Riverside volleyball wonder Megan Hodge, the national high school player of the year in the sport, and the heartwarming story of Deja Barber, the wheel-chair-bound cerebral palsy victim who first competed in the wheelchair 100 and later won a state championships in the shot-put.

NCHSAA StreaterSylva Webster star Steve Streater (pictured right), who pitched a one-hitter and two-hitter on consecutive days of the 3A state championship, is featured including the fabulous photo of UNC’s Kelvin Bryant handing the football to a paralyzed Streater after Bryant’s sixth touchdown against East Carolina. Streater had been injured in a car accident on the way home from signing with the Washington Redskins of the NFL.

The quantum leap for NCHSAA recognition came in 1986, when the state basketball playoffs moved to the brand new Dean Smith Center on the UNC campus. Eventually, all the Big Four schools hosted various playoffs, and with them came expanded media coverage and well-deserved recognition for players, coaches and teams. Most of all you will recognize.

Literally hundreds of more names are in this masterpiece of NC history —  among the more than 200,000 kids who have played high school sports in North Carolina over the last 100 years.

There are so many stories and photos, lavishly laid out in the 133-page book, that you will keep it on your coffee table and be reading it and re-reading through next Father’s Day. Last-minute or not, it’s the perfect give for Dad and the whole family.