One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for October 4, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Yesterday at UNC Pembroke Homecoming I got to see a lot of familiar faces that make our university a special place. Many different groups had events planned and went ahead and cancelled them because of our weather, some so smaller groups than planned, and many had a great time because of how well it was organized. One of those reunion groups was UNCP Track and Field/Cross Country get together. It got a lot of help in its organization but the driving force behind it was retired UNC Pembroke Track & Field/Cross Country Coach Larry Rodgers. The turnout was magnificent.
UNC P Track and Field Coaches (2015 back to 1965) L-R Pete Ormsby, Gary Aycock, Larry Rodgers, Ed Crain, and Howard Dean. 50 years of history.
Larry Rodgers completed a 30-year career at UNC Pembroke that included 10 appearances at national championships, six conference titles and two district titles. Larry retired on July 1, 2011 and was an All-American runner at UNCP in the 1970’s and became UNCP head coach in 1981 when Dr. Ed Crain stepped down as coach. From 1998 to 2011 I got to be at UNC Pembroke as Athletic Director. Larry Rodgers was a low maintenance coach. From 1985-1992 I got to work with him as a fellow head coach at Pembroke. The man was supportive of everything associated with #BraveNation.
Larry was a 1972 All-American at UNCP and three-time all-district performer in track from 1968-73. He holds the school record in the 600-yard run (1:14.9) and a share of a sprint medley relay team record. He was a part of four NAIA District 29 championship teams under his mentor and UNCP Hall of Fame coach, Dr. Ed Crain.
During Larry’s tenure, UNCP athletes earned 32 All-American awards, including two by sprinter Maurice Eubanks in 2011. There were 99 athletes named All-Carolinas Conference, 48 All-District and 25 All-Region. Gary Henry won two individual national championships in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs under Coach Larry Rodgers.
What separates Larry as a college coach is his character as a man and loyalty to friends. He has always been a person that acts and behaves a gentleman. His wife Shirley was a long time UNCP employee and served as Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Diane Jones before she retired.
Larry’s wife Shirley
What is neat about the Rodgers family is today his daughter Tina who is also a UNCP grad is working in the General Counsel Office at UNCP. We are in good hands when we have someone from the Rodgers family working at UNC Pembroke.
Larry and Tina Rodgers Summer 2015
When Larry retired in 2011 he left all of us with a great quote from George Washington Carver:
“How far you go in your life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong, because someday in your life you will have been all of these.’”
One of his friends he has made along the way in coaching was Jef Moody.
The Friend – LARRY RODGERS
The Friend of the Friend-JEF MOODY
National Champ and Friend
Jeff Moody served for 10 plus year as a part-time assistant coach for the Braves cross-country and track teams. His collegiate experience as a member of UNC Pembroke’s (called Pembroke State University at the time) 1978 National Cross Country Team. Photo below of Jef in his college days.
Jef learned his coaching style under former Pembroke legendary head coach, Dr. Ed Crain. Being coached by Ed Crain, gave Jef a wealth of knowledge and experience which he freely shared with UNCP runners.
Jef has never lost his connection with UNCP from athlete to coach to regular fixture at almost every UNCP Football tailgating with his Pembroke Family and his good friend David Lewis who was a teammate of his on 1978 NAIA Championship Team.
Photo below has David Lewis far right.
Photo from September 2014 at UNCP Track & Field/Cross Country Tailgating event back row (l-r) Rod Lattie-Ed Crain-Jef Moody-Dan Kenney-David Lewis.
Prior to his coaching at UNCP, Jef served as an assistant cross-country/track coach for 12 years at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, N.C. He has also served in the capacity of head cross-country coach at Union Pines High School and head cross-country coach for Pinecrest High School as well as the head indoor track coach for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Jeff like Larry kept the family relationship with UNC Pembroke going when his son Jef decided to attend UNCP.
During his high school coaching career, Moody was named Southeastern 4A Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year, for men and women five times consecutively (1996-2000). His teams won several conference championships and three regional championships. Moody earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education from UNC Pembroke in 1979. He has taught in the public school system of North Carolina for 30 years, 26 of those at his current school, Southern Pines Elementary. In 1996, he was honored as teacher of the year.
Glad I got to attend a reunion of some special people yesterday-Thanks Larry for the invite!