For more than a half-century, the Erwin High basketball teams haven’t had to worry about a scorekeeper or statistician.
For 51 years, math teacher Gene McClure’s knack for numbers served the Warriors’ needs for the boys and girls teams, along with long stints doing similar duties for the football, baseball and softball teams.
For his decades of faithful service and volunteerism, McClure has been selected as the 2018 MOOG/Gene Ochsenreiter Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Presented by the Mountain Amateur Athletic Club, the award annually recognizes and honors a local person who achieves outstanding work in his community.
McClure will be honored at the 57th WNC Sports Awards Banquet at Omni Grove Park Inn, presented by Ingles.
The banquet, which begins at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, recognizes the top high-school athletes and teams in WNC.
More than 100 athletes and teams will be invited to the banquet as finalists in 22 categories, and winners will be announced at the event.
And more than a dozen athletes will be awarded $1,500 scholarships through the Darlene and John McNabb Scholarship Program.
The banquet also serves as the induction ceremony for the WNC Sports Hall of Fame, presented by Dixon Hughes Goodman. The Class of 2018 includes three legendary high-school coaches – Bobby Poss of Reynolds football, Cindi Simmons of Smoky Mountain basketball and volleyball and Jan Stanley of West Henderson basketball and volleyball.
In addition, a Special Olympics athlete will be honored for outstanding achievement and that athlete’s charter will receive a $1,000 grant.
McClure, 85, grew up in the Addie community of Jackson County. He knew by 5th grade that he wanted to be a teacher, and after earning two degrees at Western Carolina, he taught at Andrews and served two years in the U.S. Army.
His career at Erwin began in 1958, teaching business and math, and he retired in 1987 but has continued to serve as the school’s scorekeeper and statistician for 30-plus years after retirement.
He kept stats for the football team for 45 years, baseball for 23 years and spent five years with the softball team.
His volunteer work with athletics began as an accident, but he is happy it worked out that way.
“This just kind of fell in my lap and they kept asking me to come back each season,” McClure said.
“I enjoy it because it’s my way of keeping up with students. I plan to continue doing it as long as my health allows it.”
His previous honors include the Erwin Booster Club Award for Service in 1979 and the Unsung Hero Award by the N.C. High School Athletic Association in 1994.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Erwin Athletic Hall of Fame in its inaugural class.
One of the great athletes at Erwin McClure enjoyed watching and tracking stats for was
Loyd King, a basketball standout who played at Virginia Tech and is a member of the WNC Sports Hall of Fame.
“One of my best memories of Mr. McClure is hiding out in his office,” said King.
“We had many conversations on a variety of subjects and what was going on in my world. He gave me insight on how to look at things from different perspectives without telling me what to think or feel. The time shared in his office has been very special to me, then and now.”
McClure also made an impact on non-athletes.
“Mr. McClure was already a legend by the time he taught me in 1985,” said Martha Ball. “My older brothers had him for trigonometry and I knew I was walking into the classroom of a teacher who was going to challenge me.
“My classmates and I were in awe of him for not only being a complete math genius, but the
fact that he was ambidextrous and would write on the chalkboard with both hands and
the same time, with each hand going in a different direction. I heard many students refer
to him as ‘Mean Gene the Trig Machine.’
“More importantly, he cares about life and about people and he showed his love of life in the classroom.”