Calling all Cougars (and Cougars at heart)
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 13, 2014 1:50 AM
David Perry, part of the Goldsboro High School Touchdown Club, reminisces on his high school football days with an old copy of The News-Argus that featured his 1977 team that went undefeated. The Touchdown Club is currently renovating the football field as well as installing new fencing and a weight room as part of its efforts to support the school.
David Perry had a sense of pride in Goldsboro High School before he even walked through its doors.
"Growing up as a young child, I always looked forward to one day being able to play football at Goldsboro High School," he said. "Such a tradition and heritage there. The experience just meant a lot to them."
As a member of the Class of 1977, that connection remains, even now that Perry has moved on with his life and raised a family of his own.
"We had a lot of success. I still stay in touch with my teammates. We get together once a year, still communicate," said the owner of Goldsboro Builders Supply.
John Peacock now works alongside his wife, Janet, in the insurance business.
But as a 1971 graduate of GHS, he is also still loyal to his alma mater.
"Anybody that's gone to Goldsboro High School is committed to seeing the school thrive, and I think everybody that rides by there thinks, 'Man, wouldn't it be great if that school could return to what it used to be?'" he said.
The high school in the heart of the city boasts a rich history, Peacock said, recalling his first year as a student in the fall of 1968, on the eve of the merger between the city and county schools.
"It was the last year of the Earthquakes (the school's mascot) and the Dillard Tigers," he said. "In 1970, those folks had to abandon their school and their reputation and their legacy. I certainly didn't look at it that way then.
"Both traditions being so strong for so long, merging together in 1970 and continuing that tradition without the Dillard folks feeling like they were left out ... (it wasn't easy)."
The kind of pride that alumni of the school exude when reflecting on its heyday struck Sherry Archibald when she moved to the area 15 years ago.
The director of Paramount Theatre said she wants today's generation to feel that way, and is part of a group with that goal in mind.
The Touchdown Club -- a throwback to the original Booster Club, later renamed the Cougar Club -- has been revived and is growing.
"There's one, myself, and maybe two others that are not graduates. All of these are people that don't have kids in the school or are graduates that just want to rebuild the legacy," she said. "As a community we can help with that."
Their aim is to rally the community in a variety of ways, from making aesthetic improvements on the field to getting them to show up at the sporting events.
"They have already started working on the field. They have started with fencing. They'll be doing painting. We have started the effort on how we'll do fundraising," she said. "Our goal is to reach out to a lot of alumni, ask for their partnership in this. We want to renovate the weight room.
"Then we want to get back in the stands and support the team, seeing them returning for a tailgating party -- that's what they talk about that they did before."
Perry's reason for becoming involved was simple.
"I just want the kids at GHS to have the same opportunities that I had," he said. "There's one thing that I have discovered -- the challenge of funding because of the economy in general. Booster clubs are very important to provide things for the athletes that the kids need. We're trying to do our part for GHS.
"We have a new coach there. That's created a lot of excitement. The success of this whole initiative is not contingent on one part of it. The combination of the Booster Club, the staff, the kids, the principal, the school officials, has been very important, also."
The new football coach, who actually began a few years ago as the program's offensive coordinator, is Bennett Johnson, Peacock's son-in-law.
He sees the grassroots effort as a plus.
"If you want to have a powerhouse, those things that made GHS great in the '70s, '80s, '90s, we're off to a good start," he said. "We can do whatever we want from a coaching perspective. But at the end of the day we need the funding and we need the support.
"We can win a lot of games but that doesn't make us a top-notch program. We need the support and we need that Booster Club. Kids need to see that the community is behind them."
Peacock said he would be remiss to not acknowledge those who have been supporting the athletic programs on the sidelines for years. Now, though, it's time for others to step up and join them.
In addition to fundraising opportunities, the group also plans to offer memberships as a way to be part of the effort.
The response so far has been gratifying, Peacock said.
"It's almost like waking a sleeping giant," he said. "A number of folks now are saying, 'Yeah, I will do what I can do.' They have given money. They have given materials. They have given time.
"We have got an opportunity to bring GHS football back and it may not jump out the first year, but we have got to have everything in place so that when people come, they'll feel welcome. They'll walk into a stadium that's fresh and looks like people care about it."
The case being made is "larger than football," he pointed out.
"The way to change the heart of a community is through the children," Peacock said. "I think there's a message there for all of us. We can show people a vehicle. Instead of saying, 'You need to be involved,' say, 'Here's a way to be involved. Here's a way you can make a difference.'"