SMITHFIELD – A number of former Smithfield Selma High School basketball players, community members, and school staff have petitioned the Johnston County Board of Education to name the SSS basketball court in honor of Coach Carl Spragins. Coach Spragins passed away in October 2021.
Spragins was a former teacher, coach, and athletic director at SSS. He believed in teaching students to excel in the classroom and in athletics. He started his career in 1981 at SSS as a Health & Physical Education teacher. From 1981 to 2000, he served as the Head Boys Basketball Coach and several years as a junior varsity football coach.
His 1994 basketball team was the Tri-Six Conference Tournament Champions and the 1994 runner-up in Sectionals. During his career, Coach Spragins had a record of 274 wins and 205 losses on the basketball court.
He served as Athletic Director at the school from 2000 to 2004 before he retired.
Spragins also taught driver’s education and for over 15 years ran a number of basketball camps. He also coach the 1998 East West All Star Game. That same year he was named the NC High School Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year.
He was also a member of First Baptist Church in Smithfield.
Along with his former players and school staff, the SSS Athletic Boosters and Parent Advisory Council has endorsed the naming of the SSS basketball court as “Carl Spragins Court.”
The formal naming request was made to the school board during their February 2022 meeting.
School board member Mike Wooten told The Johnston County Report, “Coach Spragins was a great father figure for a lot of students during his tenure. Not only was he a great basketball coach he was a even better life coach. He poured into many student athletes and they are all better people because of his leadership and friendship. It’s an honor to recognize Coach Spragins in this manner so that he is never forgotten and to show his family that his service to JCPS and SSS mattered to all of Johnston County.”
Board member Lyn Andrews said, “I met Carl in 1981 which was his first year at SSS, and my first year as the Girls’ Head Basketball Coach. As a brand new coach, I welcomed all the guidance I could receive. He nurtured me through the challenges of serving in this role with sound direction and support. When I met Carl, I was instantly aware that Carl had a deep compassion and commitment to the sports program at SSS and an even deeper love for young people. His knowledge of basketball was second to none.”
“His players always knew that he cared about each of them far beyond the basketball court or football field. We spent a great of time not only talking X’s and O’s, but about the challenges of guiding and directing the lives of these young people.”
Andrews added, “Carl was a competitor, but deep down inside it was never about winning and losing. Carl knew that the wins and loses would be forgotten all too soon. It was really all about the players. As a coach, he believed that he had a responsibility to these young people to help them realize that the lessons learned from athletics are identical to the lessons learned in life. Carl experienced the full spectrum of coaching young people from watching them play on the field of competition, to watching them go off to college and becoming successful leaders in their communities. He attended their weddings, and he meet their young families. He stood by their hospital beds and gave words of encouragement. He comforted them in difficult times. And on a few occasions, he stood at their graves when life ended tragically too soon. Carl did all of this with character, courage, class, and commitment. I am so grateful to the community of Smithfield-Selma for the insight and commitment to name the basketball court at SSS, Carl Spragins Court.”
Vice Chair Terri Sessoms declined to comment for our story stating Chairman Todd Sutton is the spokesperson for the board of education.
Board policy requires all naming requests to be considered for 60 days before they are voted on. The board is expected to consider the naming request at their April 2022 meeting.