Lessons learned from Coach Wagner

Published 2:37 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

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Before we left for an athletic trip, Coaches Wagner, Chapin and Alligood had to go by Ms. Bowen’s to get money to feed us.  Mr. Kornegay would see that we were fed after the game. He never wanted us to return hungry!  Sometimes, it was fast foods and other times it was a restaurant.

Coach Wagner, depending on how we played that night, would take us to a restaurant.  My first trip as a water boy was to Wilson, NC to play Fike High School in Fleming Stadium, so we stopped at Parker’s BBQ after the game.  I was in the sixth grade and Ted Day and Sam Grimes were seniors.  I sat beside the late Larry Poore, who was a kicker that year. Larry had not played so well that night, so he decided he did not want his plate of BBQ and he gave it to me.  It was the only time we ate at Parker’s.

The other times, we stood outside the bus and we were given one dollar.  We could add that to our money and head towards Mom’s Chuck Wagon or go by Hardee’s and later McDonald’s.  Heading to Elizabeth City, he would always stop on the bridge connecting Highway 17 to Hertford and tell us ” That bridge was where the song Carolina Moon was written ” I have never forgotten that.

Our late Coaches Chapin and Alligood, regardless how we played, gave us a dollar bill after we got to Kugler Field.  We would go to McDonald’s with Tommy Langley and eat burgers all night long.  That is how Lee Drake got his nickname “Burger”.  To this day, I call him “Burger” and he calls me “Coola”

Once, I remember on a baseball to trip to Morehead City, Coach Wagner took us to Rex’s Restaurant and we ate spaghetti after we had seen the Atlantic Ocean. I asked him,” Why travel to see the Atlantic Ocean”?  He replied that some students had never seen the Atlantic Ocean before.  That was the kind of man that he was.

Always, we took a trip to a Duke football game and I wondered why Duke?  Coach Wagner told me later that he wanted to see his former players play and many them were on the Duke football team.  I never forgot that and every year I took my team to a college game so they would have the experience of being on a college campus.  Lesson learned from the Legend! I encourage every young coach to take their team to a college game because some have never experienced being on a campus or seeing a college game.

They were the best of times with the best of friends and the best of places, Washington, NC.  The Original Washington!