BURGAW, NC (WECT) - Ray Horton has been Pender's volleyball coach for seven hundred nineteen matches, and an impressive six hundred seven of them being Pender victories, making him the fourth winningest in the state volleyball record books. He is leaving after twenty seven years as the team's coach.
But he is leaving at what some would call the highest point of his career. The good news is that the past three years have been fantastic for the team, which included back to back state titles.
The bad news, though, is this past season, Horton was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It didn't slow him down, missing just one match.
And now back to the good news. Today, Horton is cancer free. He has also been selected as the male recipient of the Tony Webb Coach of the Year for 2010-2011. The award recognizes state high school coaches who had an impact on the lives of student-athletes by encouraging them to succeed.
Horton has certainly had an impact on his student's lives, both on and off the volleyball court.
"He is like a family member, we can go to him when we have problems," said senior Jenna Baranowski, who has played for Horton the past four years.
"I have enjoyed playing for Horton more than any other coach that I have ever known," said another senior, Haley Lanier.
And from senior, Jessica Sanabeia, "Just for all of the work he has done for us, we hope we have given it back to him."
"Coach Horton combined the whole concept of the student athlete in the way he coached, to encourage them to do their absolute best in everything, to put the academics in proper prospective with athletics," said Pender High School Principal Rob Spainhour. "And really made that happen, build the best relationship with the girls he could so that they would perform for themselves, first, then for their families and for him."
So we congratulate Coach Ray Horton for winning the High School Athletic Association's Tony Webb Award also being named the Star News All Area Coach of the Year for Volleyball.
And Ray Horton is also the March recipient of our Cape Fear Hero award. We wish him well as he begins a new chapter of his life, retirement.
For being this month's Cape Fear Hero, Ray Horton receives a $500 gift certificate from Reed's Jewelers.