Ragsdale athletics director Brian Herndon is retiring at the end of the school year following a 35-year coaching and teaching career. The Tigers AD has seen some of Guilford County's best athletes compete on the field in front of him during that time. He spoke with the News & Record's Spencer Turkin to reflect on his career.
Where have you coached and taught during your career?
I started coaching 35 years ago, with my first coaching job at Grimsley. Went from there to Lexington, then to Page and spent the last 30 years here at Ragsdale.
What sports did you coach?
Obviously, football was my background and passion, but I did coach track at Ragsdale for a couple of years. It's a great sport, but it's also a way to keep your football guys and all of your other athletes who weren't playing a spring sport, keep their pistons firing.
What is the most important thing you've taken away from your time as a coach and AD?
To treat people with respect. It's all about the people. Take time with people, be kind. I've always been fiery, but it's always been out of love and caring about people you've coached and worked with — caring about them not just in the here and now, but about what you see in their future.
How did you get into coaching?
I got into coaching accidentally. I played quarterback at East Carolina and had some surgeries, and my career ended early. I would come back to Greensboro with the intention of rehabilitating and going back to playing. Well, Bob Sawyer knew I was in town and offered me a job to come coach at Grimsley. I loved it right away. But the first memory of I knew this is what I wanted to do was we were playing Burlington Williams and at that time they were a state powerhouse. We opened up with them and beat them decisively, and I just remember being in the field house with our players and coaches after the game and seeing the excitement in there. It let me know that this is what I want to do.
What was it like to have your sons come through Ragsdale while you worked at the school?
It was incredible. They both played quarterback, too. They were here their whole life. When they were born, we had a little bed up in the press box. My bride (Pamela) has also been a huge part of this. She would drive the tractor sometimes while I was coaching and helped paint the stadium, pick up trash, take tickets.
What's a piece of advice you would give an up-and-coming AD?
I would say the most important thing is the love that you have for the school, people, community, kids and coaches. Focus on that love. Have a plan in place. Be disciplined and regimented, but always put the people first.