Coach, teacher, principal, superintendent — Coach Alligood made a difference

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

If you have ever been lightly thumped on the head by a college class ring then you will know exactly who I am writing about. I remember that thump while sitting in the auditorium and misbehaving like many of the boys my age. Yes, I am writing about Coach Bobby Alligood, and Coach will tell you that I probably hold the record for the most thumps. He always caught me!

Coach Alligood was our science teacher and assisted in coaching football and basketball and the head coach of our baseball team. He was a no-nonsense guy and still is today. Coach Alligood’s classes were well-behaved and well-taught, and he demanded your attention. He earned the respect of his students by going the extra mile during his presentations to make them learnable and kept the context to a level we could comprehend. Coach Alligood would later go on to become a principal and superintendent and would be a mentor to me as a hard-headed young coach. Coach, as he will always be called by me, was selected to receive many honors from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, but I remember one all too well. He was selected as the Superintendent That Did The Most for High School Athletics, and I have never been so proud to say he was my coach.

Some of us remember a game in Kinston in Grainger Stadium that we were getting beat pretty bad by the Red Devils. Coach walked out to the mound to change pitchers and looked over at our dugout as to decide who he would pitch. When he called my name, Whit Rhoads who was a pitcher, jumped up and hit his head on the concrete ceiling in anger. Whit was right, I had only pitched batting practice and never intended on pitching. After, Coach tossed me the ball and asked if I could pitch. “Sure,” was my response, not knowing Bobby Koehler was the first batter I would face. William Neal gave me a little pep talk and made sure I was ready. Got past Bobby, but the next batter hit one out of the stadium. That was my one and only appearance as a pitcher.

On another day, Coach met me in the hall to inform me that Rusty Everett, our third baseman, had gotten sick and needed to go home. He told me that I needed to play third base that day against New Bern. That was the longest school day of the year. I was nervous all day. The ride down was quiet ,and I sat beside the gentle giant, Frankie Briley, who assured me he had me covered. Coach was encouraging and ,after the first ground ball, the nerves subsided. On a high throw, Frankie went up and saved my throw for the first out. I’ll never forget that season and the positive attitude Coach Alligood always had with us.

Coach lives in Washington now, with his lovely wife of many years, Janet. Their son Brian is our county manager. I can only imagine the many lives Coach Bobby Alligood had to have touched throughout eastern North Carolina. If they were like my age group, they were lucky to have let him enter their lives. Thanks, Coach!

The best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places — Washington, NC!

— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.