By Tim Gardner
The North Carolina Athletic Directors Association (NCADA) has announced its 29th Hall of Fame (2023) class, and Avery County Schools Athletic Director Jay Smith has been chosen for induction.
Smith is one five athletic directors who will be added to the Hall this year. The others include Neil Blankenship of Swain County, Michael Gainey of Rocky Mount, Troy Lindsay of Fayetteville and Jim Taylor of Shelby.
The honorees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a banquet on March 27 in Wilmington.
“I’m very humbled to be chosen for this great honor,” Smith said to High Country Press. “I’m thankful to have had all kinds of opportunities on the county, conference, regional and state levels because of my work in athletics and education. Any honor I receive is not just about me, but also many others who have been a part of my professional career. And I’m deeply grateful to each of them.”
Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman offered High Country Press the following comment about Smith’s upcoming Hall of Fame induction and his service to Avery County Schools: “Mr. Smith is very deserving of this honor and recognition for the outstanding work he continues to do in support of athletics and all students at Avery County High School and at our other schools throughout the county.”
Smith, the son of Daryl and Sharon “Bugs” Smith, added to High Country Press that he will be retiring as athletic director and Avery High counselor at the end of August this year.
“Again, I’m so appreciative of the Hall of Fame induction and I’ll be working hard with our county’s school administrators, coaches, athletes and others to keep our sports programs moving forward while I’m athletic director. It’s been a great run for me.”
Smith’s biography from the NCADA reads as follows:
-Jamison “Jay” Smith-
Jay Smith has worked with kids and families for 28 years. He worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Social Services for 15 years in the Catawba Valley before returning home to enter the field of education. For the past 13 years, he has been a Professional School Counselor at Avery County High School. During this time, he has also acted in a variety of other roles: County Athletics Director (12 years), women’s golf coach (6 years) and assistant baseball coach (5 years).
While at Avery County High School, Jay has overseen many teams to achieve great things. The Vikings won their first state title, 16 Western Highlands Conference titles, eight western regional titles and three additional state titles.
Jay has been a member of the NCADA for 11 years and North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) for 13 years. He has served two terms as the Region 8 representative on the NCADA board, six years as the Secretary of the Western Highlands Conference and the NCHSAA golf committee. He has also been named the Western Highlands Conference Golf Coach of the Year (4 times), the Region 8 Athletic Director of the year (2017), NCADA Special Commendation, NCADA Athletic Director of Excellence, NCADA Brave Heart Award and is a National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Certified Athletic Administrator.
Jay graduated from Avery County High School (1991), earned his Batchelor’s degree in Family Science from Montreat College (1995) and a Master’s degree in Professional School Counseling from Appalachian State University (2010).
He resides in the Cranberry community of Avery County with his wife, Kelly, of 25 years, and their three children: Katie, Nolan and Darla.
Formed in 1970, the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association consists of secondary athletic directors from across the state of North Carolina. It is governed by a Board of Directors elected for four-year terms representing the eight athletic regions of the state, four at-large members and affiliate members. The 1984-85 year was the first that corporate sponsorship became involved with the NCADA. A number of companies have been important to the growth of the Association.
The NCADA continues to grow toward its goal of having every secondary athletic director in the state as a member. The pressures now brought to bear on education and interscholastic athletics from several different areas make a strong AD organization more important than ever. In many cases, the athletic director is the one that continues to provide stability for a school program when there are many changes in personnel and administration. Professional growth and development, along with the sharing of ideas with colleagues from around the state, continue to be the mission of the Association.
Charles “Babe Howell, a former Avery County Schools athletic director and head football coach at Avery High, was inducted in the NCADA Hall of Fame in 2012 after his employment tenure (1995-97) had ended in the Avery County School System. But Smith is the only athletic director from Avery County chosen for NCADA Hall of Fame induction while still actively working in the school system.
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