Prep Sports: South Rowan athletic director Crosby retiring
By Mike London
LANDIS — South Rowan athletics director Danny Crosby’s cozy office includes the obligatory Vince Lombardi quote in Magic Marker on the greaseboard as well as an optional poster of the Three Stooges posing with golf clubs.
Sports has a serious side and a lighter side, and Crosby has balanced them pretty well for a long time. A fierce competitor in his day but quick with a joke as the years rolled by, Crosby will retire on June 30 from a school into which he’s poured heart and soul.
“He’s Larry Deal-ish, one of the old school,” South principal Dr. Donald Knox said.
Crosby, 57, goes back far enough at South that he was a Rebel, rather than a Raider, when he played fullback and first base for coach Lope Linder. He kept busy between football and baseball seasons by wrestling.
“Graduated in 1971,” Crosby said. “The last class of Rebels.”
Crosby played football at Lees-McRae when it was still a junior college. Then he went on to Carson-Newman.
He began coaching at rural Wartburg Central High in the Crab Orchard Mountains of Tennessee. His next stop was coaching his brothers, Rick and Tim, as an assistant at Lees-McRae.
In the late 1970s, Crosby left coaching for five years, studying turf management and working at several golf courses.
He returned to the coaching ranks in the area in 1982. He served a stint at Erwin, where he was AD; another at Northwest Cabarrus.
In 1991, he had a chance to return home to South as a health and P.E. teacher and to put on the red and black again. He’s helped coach football, baseball and wrestling, and he’s been a fixture at South the past two decades.
Crosby’s most obvious impact at the school has always been on the well-groomed baseball and football fields where his turf-management training has paid dividends.
“He’s got a passion for those fields, and he’s shared his knowledge with a lot of the kids here,” Knox said. “Everyone who comes to South comments on how nice our fields are.”
In 2008, Crosby accepted AD responsibilities when Josh Vinson stepped down after three years on the job.
“It can almost overwhelm you with all the paperwork that’s got to be done for 20-something sports,” Crosby said. “It used to be you had eligibility forms, parental consent forms and insurance forms, but it seems like there’s five sheets of paper for everything now. I was surrounded by good people. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to get it all done. I thank all of them.”
Springtime, when something gets rained out and rescheduled every other day, always provides a challenge for even the most patient AD.
Crosby said West Rowan AD Todd Bell has been the biggest help, as he’s adjusted to advancing technology. ADs, even old-school ADs, can’t operate with just a pencil, a desk phone and a clipboard anymore.
“I can email and I can text, but I still feel like the best way to handle a problem is face-to-face,” Crosby said. “I’ve never had a cross word with another AD. I saw snow back up wrestling and basketball to the point where you didn’t know how you’d ever get the games in, but we worked together and things fell into place.”
There have been late nights, especially in the winter. The NPC’s four-games-at-one-site basketball marathon sometimes has Crosby performing cleaning duties in the gym well after 11 p.m. on a weeknight.
“Most ADs open and close the school, and you have to remember that gym is also Danny’s classroom,” Knox said. “He’s got to have it ready for the next morning.”
Crosby, a confessed sports nut, probably doesn’t hate any minute he spends in a gym. His first date with wife, Susan, was taking in an Atlanta Braves baseball game.
“The first official date, anyway,” Crosby clarified. “The first unofficial date was when she filled out my taxes. Then I took her to lunch.”
As 1994 crept into 1995, the Crosbys took in both the Gator Bowl and the Peach Bowl on one trip. Not every woman would consider that the ideal holiday vacation.
“Well, we were down in Florida and I read in the newspaper tickets were still on sale for the Peach Bowl,” Crosby said. “I just said, ‘Babe, do you wanna go?’ She was willing. She’s from a big sports family. I’ve been lucky in that.”
Daniel Crosby, their son, is one of those apples who didn’t fall far from the tree. He was a good athlete at South, making all-county in two sports.
Daniel is involved in racing on weekends, but he’s also a teacher and coach at Northwest Middle School.
“Daniel loves racing, but I believe his heart is in coaching,” Crosby said. “The only advice I could give him was that he wouldn’t get rich teaching and coaching, but the rewards would be well worth it. I feel blessed that I’ve been able to do this for 30 years.”
College football games and big league baseball will become a more frequent activity for the Crosbys once retirement papers are filed.
“Oh, I’ve got my bucket list,” Crosby said with a smile. “I’ve tried to live within my means, and there’s places I want to see. I’ve been to football games at four SEC stadiums, and I want to see all of them, places like Alabama and LSU that have been too faraway. And I want to see baseball at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.”
Susan, keep that suitcase packed.