05/23/09 — A coaching legend: Goldsboro gym named in honor of late Norvell T. Lee

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A coaching legend: Goldsboro gym named in honor of late Norvell T. Lee

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 23, 2009 11:05 PM

Norvell T. Lee's legacy isn't measured in numbers and statistics.

Family, friends, co-workers and former players proved that Friday morning. Each spun their own story of the revered coach who bellowed at players during practice, constantly worked referees to a frazzle and ripped off-collared comments to anyone who'd listen after the game.

And had the late Dillard/Goldsboro High basketball coach attended the celebration to recognize his achievement, he'd probably tell everyone "to get out of his gym" and let his team practice.

Then again, no one would have dared said "no."

History-rich Cougar Gym was renamed the Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium during a school-wide assembly honoring the coach who built the Tiger and Cougar basketball teams into statewide powerhouses during his three-decade career.

"There were many lives touched by this great man and many called him 'tough,'" said Goldsboro High principal Patricia Burden. "He nurtured students and his team members, and taught them how to become well-rounded citizens."

Lee was a wonder of simplicity wrapped in a consuming passion. He was a living, breathing legacy who went to work every morning and lived the life lessons that he taught.

Lee believed in a player's ability and never refused to give anyone a chance to prove themselves. He reached deep into his soul to find qualities that helped define each player who wore a uniform for him at either Dillard, Goldsboro High or St. Augustine's College.

"He left a great legacy and was a great friend to all of us," said former co-worker and friend Thelma Smith.