Alumnus Larry Lindsey has been elected into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He is the first UNCP graduate to be elected to the hall.
A 1965 UNC Pembroke graduate, Lindsey is one of the most successful high school coaches in North Carolina history. His teams won eight state championships, and he had a career winning percentage of .800, stretching over 28 seasons.
He was also an outstanding high school and college player. Lindsey was inducted into UNCP’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 and is a member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Lindsey’s championships came in three different classifications, including two at Youngsville High School (1969-70) and six at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School (1971-73, 1977-79).
In a January interview from his home in Wake Forest, N.C., he credited his players for his success.
“I am just accepting this award for all the fantastic kids who played for me,” Lindsey said. “They were good kids and dedicated basketball players.”
Athletic Director Dan Kenney was quick to congratulate Lindsey on behalf of UNCP athletics.
“Larry Lindsey epitomized the word ‘coach,’” Kenney said. “He inspired young people to achieve, and he instilled in them loyalty that caused them to become teammates for life.
“UNC Pembroke has always been proud for him to be part of our family,” he continued. “We are excited he is being recognized as one of North Carolina’s all-time best coaches.”
Lindsey’s Hall of Fame class will be inducted on May 12 in Raleigh. The other members of the 2011 class are: Dale Jarrett of Conover, N.C., Ricky Proehl of Greensboro, N.C., Tom Parham of Emerald Isle, N.C., Jerry Tolley of Elon University, the late Gene Overby and Al Proctor of Raleigh.
For Lindsey, winning started with his own playing career. He played on Youngsville High School’s 1-A state championship team in 1956.
As a senior at UNCP, Lindsey teamed up with UNCP Hall of Fame member Joe Gallagher and coach Howard Dean to lead the Braves to a 19-8 record that ended with a first round playoff loss to Wofford College. They had wins over UNC-Charlotte and Campbell University.
Gallagher, who later coached at UNCP and in the NBA, said Lindsey is very deserving of the award.
“His teams were very, very sound,” Gallagher said. “When I got into coaching, we talked a lot about defense and he was very helpful.
“When I was a freshman, he was a senior,” Gallagher said. “He was very patient with me; he brought a lot of perspective to the floor and he had size and strength.”
Coach Dean said Lindsey was “the coach on the floor” and an “enthusiastic and dedicated” practice player.
“He was our point guard and was an outstanding player on an outstanding team,” Dr. Dean said. “When he came to Pembroke, he already had a vast knowledge of basketball.
“I knew him during his high school playing days,” Dr. Dean said. “He was one of the best players in the state his senior year, and we were able to bring him to Pembroke after he served in the military.”
Coach Dean said he remained in contact with Coach Lindsey over the years and his many state basketball championships.
“This is a great honor for him, for the University and his players,” said Dr. Dean, who wrote a letter of recommendation to the Hall of Fame.
Lindsey said he made “lifetime friends” at Pembroke.
“Those were the best years of my life,” he said. “They took us in with open arms and made us part of the family; I can’t say enough good things about Pembroke.”
After college, Lindsey took over the basketball program at Youngsville High School and later Wake Forest, where he was also athletic director. Lindsey’s teams were known for defense.
“Our players were small, and we played man-to-man defense,” he said. “Most importantly, they bought into what we were doing.”
Perhaps his most astonishing title came in 1973 when Wake Forest trailed Tabor City by 10 points with four minutes left. They didn't allow another basket and won 65-55.
Coach Lindsey returned regularly to coach at UNCP’s summer basketball camp. He remains in touch with many teammates and coaches.
He retired in 1993 and lives in Wake Forest. With wife, Cherie, he has travelled extensively to China, New Zealand, Europe, South America and “everywhere in between.”