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Former Watauga and Ashe County Coach Marc Payne to be Enshrined in the NC High School Sports Hall of Fame

North Carolina High Country Prep Sports Legend Marc Payne

By Tim Gardner

The North Carolina High School Athletics Association has announced the eight-member group of its Hall of Fame Class of 2018. This year’s class is the 32nd to join the Hall of Fame dedicated to honoring those who “have done the most for high school athletics in North Carolina” throughout their careers, according to a NCHSAA press release.

This year’s class features a wide range of involvement in high school athletics from administrators to coaches and an official. And it includes a legendary North Carolina High County coach and athletics director–Phillip “Marc” Payne from West Jefferson.

The rest of the Hall of Fame Class of 2018 consists of: Jim Brett from Tarboro, Marsha Crump from Hickory, Bob Lewis from Clinton, D. Gordon Patrick from Morehead City, Robert “Bobby” Poss from Asheville, Colon Starrett from Thomasville and Charles A. McCullough, Sr. from Charlotte, who will be inducted posthumously.

Payne shouts instructions to his Beaver Creek players during the 1977-78 North Carolina 2-A State Tournament at R.J. Reynolds High in Winston-Salem.

The class will be formally introduced at a press conference and luncheon at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 22, at the NCHSAA Offices in Chapel Hill. The press conference and luncheon is not open to the public.

“I’m very humbled to become a Hall of Fame inductee,” Payne said. “I was speechless when I was informed by NCHSAA officials that I had been chosen for enshrinement. I’m most grateful to the selection committee for thinking enough of me and my career working in North Carolina High School Sports to pick me for this honor. I especially want to thank my wife, Pam, our sons, Coleman and Bryson, my parents, Max and Mary Payne, my players, my assistant coaches, every administrator I’ve worked with and all others who have been a part of my sports career. It’s been a total team effort.”

Payne was the Head Basketball Coach at a trio of NCHSAA schools for a combined 37 years. He coached at Beaver Creek, Watauga and Ashe County High Schools, posting an overall coaching record of 574-383. His teams claimed 13 Regular Season Conference Titles and seven Conference Tournament Championships. Payne also coached teams to five sectional championships and four appearances in the Western Regional tournament. He led Beaver Creek to a third place finish in the State 1-A Tournament during the 1977-78 season.

Payne earned 17 Coach of the Year Awards from various organizations.

He also served as the Athletics Director at Watauga and then Ashe County from 1992 until his retirement in 2018. Payne was active across the state with the NCHSAA, the North Carolina Athletics Directors Association (NCADA) and the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA), serving on the Board of Directors for all three organizations. He has served on the NCHSAA Nominating Committee for more than a decade in addition to his service on the Association’s Scholarship, President’s Advisory and Ad-Hoc Committees. He helped found the NC Basketball Coaches Association in 1998 and was that organization’s first President. In 2011, Payne was honored with the National Interscholastic Athletics Administrators Association (NIAAA) Distinguished Service Award, making him one of 11 North Carolinians to receive that prestigious distinction.

Payne also was a head football, baseball and golf coach on the prep level.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Cary, NC.   The Banquet and Ceremony is open to the public. Tickets to the event are $50 per person and will go on sale in January 2019.

Payne will join former Appalachian and Watauga High head football coach, athletics director and school administrator, Jack Groce, and former Ashe County coach and school administrator, Morris Walker, as the only individuals from this region inducted in the NCHSA Hall of Fame. Groce and Walker were both enshrined into the 2001 Hall of Fame Class.

Marc Payne recorded his 400th career win at Watauga during the 2001-2002 season. He received a memento recognizing the accomplishment as his players, and sons, Bryson, left front, and Coleman, right front, join in the celebration.
Coach Marc Payne sitting in his Ashe County High office among some of his memorabilia from his career as a coach and athletics director.
Coach Marc Payne with his family, son, Coleman, left, wife, Pam, center, and son, Bryson, at a ceremony for his retirement from the Ashe County School System in 2018.
Marc Payne shown on one of the basketball courts in the John M. Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility at the Williams YMCA of Avery County. This picture was made during a photo shoot for the “Chronicling a Legend” High Country Magazine story published in our April/May 2018 issue about Payne and his illustrious career as a coach and athletics director.