Hoggard’s Sheila Boles is a pioneer in sports in Wilmington, and North Carolina.
In 1973, she was a member of UNCW's first women's basketball team and she was the first woman in the state to coach a boys' high school varsity basketball team, leading Hoggard to the 4-A state playoffs eight times.
In 1999, Boles was appointed athletic director at Hoggard, becoming the first female to hold that job in New Hanover County.
Now her name will never be forgotten since Hoggard named its gym the Sheila E. Boles Gymnasium.
“I think you have a lot of years flash before you,” Boles said Wednesday during the gym naming ceremony. “And you are thinking, ‘How did we get here?’ Because in 1989 when Mr. McManus gave me this opportunity to be the boys coach, that was just an honor in itself.”
Boles wasn’t just a boys’ basketball coach, she was a good one and in 11 seasons, she compiled a 167-121 record.
She was also a role model looked up to by many.
“For her to break into coaching men’s basketball at that time was just a huge step forward,” former Laney women’s basketball coach Sherri Tynes said. “Probably unheard of at that time.”
Boles credits her family and upbringing for making it all possible.
“I think I was lucky to have two parents that encouraged me to be whatever you want to be,” Boles said. “If you are willing to work, grab it, work for it, go for it.”
While she worked hard to break down barriers, she never forgot to take time to help others.
“I had a really good basketball background when I got to Hoggard,” Hoggard boys’ coach Brett Queen said. “But I really didn’t know how to coach high school kids. She made such a difference in that regard, just helping me understand how to relate to people, how to build those relationships, and how to coach high school kids.”
It was those relationships that kept her going for 31 years, and even on a day set to honor her, she remained humble.
“You can’t receive until you give, and I have received more than my share, I can tell you that,” Boles said. “I am so happy all those kids were in my life, and I think they gave me more than I gave them.”
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