Bulldog to the end: Huneycutt nears retirement at Thomasville
Thu. June 13, 2013 at 10:46 p.m. | By Mike Duprez
Thomasville High School athletic director Woody Huneycutt, seen here when he was coaching the Thoamsville boys baseketball team in 2008, is retiring. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)
It could easily be said that Woody Huneycutt was practically born a Bulldog and one who never strayed too far away from Thomasville in building a legacy that few can equal.
“I’ve been here pretty much since I walked on as a freshman in 1971 until now,” Huneycutt said.
That’s a long time.
Huneycutt graduated from Thomasville and then from nearby High Point College (now University) in 1980. He coached at Thomasville even when he was still in college and during a brief stint as a substitute for teachers on maternity leave for Davidson County Schools before landing a job at his alma mater in the summer of 1981.
He never left.
And now a career that has seen the school’s huge trophy case stuffed with state championship hardware is about to end. Huneycutt retires on June 27 as the school’s athletic director and, no, it really hasn’t hit him yet.
“I’ve been working so I really haven’t time to reflect on it,” Huneycutt said. “I’m sure it will be different come that last day when it’s time to walk away. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long.”
It’s one thing to anticipate the final day. It’s another for it to actually arrive.
“I’ve been here 32 years,” Huneycutt said. “When I wake up in the morning on the 28th and don’t have to go in, it will feel a little different. I have plenty around the house to keep me busy. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll miss the people and the students, stuff like that.”
For reminders of Huneycutt, all one has to do is look at that sprawling trophy case.
Huneycutt is best known for coaching the boys basketball team for 21 years. His lifetime record was 429-128 but the Bulldogs got better as they went along. They won five state championships in an 11-year span beginning in 1998 under Huneycutt and co-coach Lacardo Means.
“We had some really good kids come through,” Huneycutt said. “We won 14 conference championships in a row. A lot of things that I’m very proud of and a lot of good memories.”
Thomasville played a smothering full court press that translated into a breakneck transition game few opponents could handle. The program seemed to have an aura about it.
“I think when you look at it, that’s probably true,” Huneycutt said. “I was nervous before every game. It didn’t matter who we were playing. We had a lot of athletic kids who believed in what we were doing. That helped a lot. It translated into a lot of wins.”
Huneycutt became athletic director in 2000 and continued on as basketball coach through the 2008-09 season.
As the school’s athletic director, Huneycutt oversaw a department that produced a whopping 13 team state championships in 13 years, including four of his basketball titles, four in girls basketball, four in football and one in soccer.
“That’s something to be proud of, too,” Huneycutt said. “We had good coaches and good community support. A lot of schools go through that period of time and win one state championship, if any.”
Huneycutt’s state championships as a coach came in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
When he made the short trip back home after college, Huneycutt came to an athletic program already steeped in football tradition first under the late George Cushwa and then Allen Brown.
It didn’t take long for Huneycutt to get immersed in all of that.
“Bobby Suggs got me to help coach the girls and then I had the JV girls for 10 years,” Huneycutt said. “Allen Brown and George Cushwa gave me the opportunity to coach other sports like football, track and softball.”
Then came 21 years as boys basketball coach and all the history with that. When he gave up basketball following the 2008-09 school year, Huneycutt continued on as athletic director in an era where it is increasingly difficult to do both because of the administrative demands.
Huneycutt was known for the pace of his practices due to Thomasville’s transition and for a drill where he slickly dribbled between his legs.
“I can still do that,” Huneycutt said with a chuckle. “I can’t get up and down the court like I could in the past.”
He won’t be a stranger either.
“I can go to a game on time rather than early,” Huneycutt said. “I can leave early if I want to, which I couldn’t do in the past.”
And there will be plenty of time to work on the house.
Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.