Gallagher column: Windsor, this complex is for you
SALISBURY — Now that Windsor Eagle will no longer be the principal of Salisbury High School after 32 years, what does this mean for his wife, Kathy?
“That’s an excellent question,” mused daughter Anna. “She has a lot of projects, for sure. She’ll probably call the high school and say, ‘Don’t you have something you can tell him he needs to do?’ ”
Hasn’t he done enough?
Athletic director Joe Pinyan will tell you he’s done more than enough. This last month has been a Windsor Eagle Farewell Tour, from being honored in front of the student body to a faculty dinner to countless handshakes, stories and pats on the back. Pinyan said sports would not be left out of the equation.
Eagle looked out at the audience gathered Saturday morning in the parking lot of the gymnasium and said, “It has been a marvelous, marvelous ride.”
It sure has been. Pinyan pointed up to the roof of the gym where coaches David Johnson and Scott Eagle stood. They weren’t there because it was the best seat in the place. They were there to pull a cover off of a sign that will forever let everyone know they are entering the N. Windsor Eagle Athletic Complex.
As much as Eagle was instrumental in making Salisbury a nationally-recognized school in academics, the former coach wanted athletics to be important, too. Many, many years ago, he had a vision for an athletic complex. He proved to be just as good a seller as a principal, getting community businesses to chip in and get the job done.
Eagle would go out there and tell workers where to put dirt. He’d give instructions, uh, I mean, suggestions. He was Windsor being Windsor.
“I promised I’d stay until I saw it through,” he said.
“Windsor being Windsor” means things will get done the right way. He leaves a school with arguably the best facilities in the county. He also leaves a school that has won 34 state championships in the past 28 years.
“We had four this year and we left like we let him down,” Pinyan said.
Two of the titles were won in golf and coach Dale Snyder says Eagle was great.
“He has been so fantastic,” Snyder said. “He’s supportive of all the athletic programs, no matter how low or high up the ladder. From football to golf, he supports everyone.”
Among those sitting on stage Saturday were mayor Paul Woodson and school board member Bryce Beard, both of whom had children wearing the Hornet colors while playing sports. As parents, they both realize Eagle was just as important to their kids in the classroom.
“It is not sports that he’ll be remembered,” Beard said. “It’s the building across the street where he was the head coach.”
Yes, Pinyan is the head football coach, but there were times when Eagle would call him in, saying, ‘Just listen,’ and proceed to tell Pinyan that maybe he should do this or do that.
Pinyan said he listened because Eagle was a good listener.
“He gave me every chance to succeed,” Pinyan said. “That’s a credit to him.”
Pinyan said some people call him Dr. Eagle. Some call him Windsor. Some call him Boss.
And some,” Pinyan joked, call him, “Here he comes.”
Sitting on the front row with Kathy and Anna was Jim Eppinger, school board chairman and a 1957 graduate of the school. Like Eagle, he served as a high school principal.
“They used to say if you lasted five years (as a principal), you were pretty good,” Eppinger said. “Thirty-two years is unheard of.”
Going along for the ride was Anna, a 1987 graduate of Salisbury.
“Since I can remember, I was always in the press box, always listening to him,” she said. “It’s going to be sad not having that voice in your head going, ‘THAT’S ANOTHER HORNET FIRST DOOOOOOOOWN....’ ”
Eagle once mentioned being the booster club president, which Kathy chuckled would be a good idea because he’d get a dose of his own medicine.
That’s what Saturday was: chuckles, smiles, laughs and applause. There were no tears shed. There shouldn’t have been. This was a celebration of what one man meant to a high school and a community.
“The sign really doesn’t do justice,” Pinyan said.
In Eagle’s mind, it was perfect.
“I don’t know how I’ll ever live up to that,” he said, nodding toward his sign. “I’m humbled by the experience.”
Know what else was perfect? The scene before the ceremony even began.
There were coaches and booster Shari Graham setting up chairs and the stage. But the sound system wasn’t working. Only one man could get it going. Who else but Windsor Eagle?
“He knew he was going to have to,” Pinyan laughed. “He asked me yesterday, ‘Do you want me to come over and set up? If you do, just call me.’ ”
Pinyan laughed again.
“That’s probably what will happen next year,” he said. “We’ll have to call him over for help.”
And if Pinyan doesn’t summon him over to the school, his wife probably will.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.