All-County Golf Coach of the Year: Lucas Hatley

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, June 13, 2019

By Marny Hendrick

SALISBURY – By his own admission, Salisbury High School boys’ golf coach Lucas Hatley is primarily a recreational golfer who plays mostly in the summers with his dad and his uncles.

Can he beat any of his varsity players? “Oh gosh no, not a chance,” says Hatley, with a chuckle. “They are just too good.”

The young and talented Hornets had a decent regular season, then surged to the forefront by winning the Rowan County golf championship in April. That signature win, plus his leadership and inspirational style, earned Hatley the county golf Coach of the Year honors for 2019.

“All credit goes to the boys,” Hatley said, of the honor. “I wouldn’t have a shot at being coach of the year if it wasn’t for them. We have a really good team and I love my team. All the boys are great, but it is 100 per cent them.”

Hatley just completed his fourth season at the helm of the Salisbury golf team and his fifth year at the school as a history teacher. He previously assisted with junior varsity girls and boys basketball, before taking over golf from veteran coach Dale Snyder.

“It was definitely a learning curve for me, but we have a really great group of guys and all of them are avid golfers,” Hatley says. “The majority of my job with this team is mostly the mental aspects of the game and keeping them focused.”

The Hornets, with just one senior on the squad, finished third in the Central Carolina Conference behind Oak Grove and West Davidson. They were certainly not favored in the county golf tournament at Corbin Hills on April 11. East Rowan was the undefeated champion of the North Piedmont Conference and had won four county titles in a row.

Led by junior Hank Robins (80), sophomore Will Fowler (81) and freshman Will Webb (81), the Hornets surprised the Mustangs by five strokes (332-337) and bested the other four county teams in the process, claiming its first county title in five years. “It was a good team effort,” Hatley said.

Robins, Fowler and Webb earned all-county honors for the performance, while Robins and Fowler also made the All-CCC team. All three return for next season, along with talented underclassmen Luke Graeber and Riley Dillon. He expects a couple of other talented golfers to join the team next season.

“They were really good this year, but I think it will be even better next season and beyond,” added Hatley.

He also had praise for his lone senior, Harrison Parrott, who was not the best golfer on the talented team “… but he had the most spirit and enthusiasm on the team,” Hatley said. “I believe it was Will Fowler who said that ‘nobody loves the game more than Harrison.’”

Hatley is well aware of the rich and successful history of Salisbury golf and thinks the program is headed back toward those glory days. “When I took over from Snyder, he constantly reminded me of how many rings he has,” Hatley quipped.

The Hornets won state 2A titles in 1998, 2011 and 2012, plus individual championships in 2006 and 2007 (Will Collins), in 2010 (Roy Dixon) and 2012 (Alex Nianouris). Salisbury also won consecutive conference titles from 2009 through 2015.

Hatley thinks Salisbury has the young talent to compete at a championship level in the coming years, but it appears he will not be a part of it.

At 29, Hatley is a Davie County native who graduated from UNC-Charlotte. He is now back in graduate school at UNCC working towards a degree in Administration. More significantly, Hatley and his wife are expecting their first child in August. Accordingly, the Coach of the Year appears to be bowing out on top.

“Next year, I will be co-coaching the team with Alex Weant,” Hatley revealed. “He will be transitioning in and I will be transitioning out, as I get more into my graduate work.” Eventually, he plans to be involved as a principal or in school administration.

“I have enjoyed it but this is kind of my last hoorah, and I am going to start slowly fading out after this year,” Hatley concluded.