PILOT MOUNTAIN — Long-time coach Barry Hall started out as an assistant to Downs, only to have Downs reverse the tables a bit when he told Hall he wanted to take a step back and be Hall’s assistant. And he hung around for many more years.
A project several years in the making has appropriately been named for a legend of East Surry athletics many years in the making.
The Surry County Board of Education recently approved a proposal to name the new fieldhouse located at the school’s baseball, softball and tennis complex in honor of Harry Downs, a retired East Surry teacher and coach who remains active at the school as its drivers’ education instructor.
Downs taught full-time at East Surry from 1966 through 2000 before taking retirement, but has continued to be involved in the school in many other ways, including in driver education.
Downs was East Surry’s head baseball coach from 1971-74, then stepped down in favor of his assistant, Barry Hall. He later spent 24 more seasons, from 1979-2002, as Hall’s assistant. He went 40-17 as the head coach, then helped the Cardinals post a 434-198 mark, with 12 conference titles, seven conference tournament titles, and one appearance in the state finals, as an assistant.
In addition, he was East Surry’s head tennis coach from 1975-78.
Downs was honored prior to the Cardinals’ first-round state playoff football game last Friday night against Starmount. He received a plaque, and the name of the new fieldhouse was announced.
The fieldhouse is a project of the East Surry Athletic Boosters. The need for a facility on the site had been acknowledged for many years. The only enclosed facility currently present on the site is a small building near the tennis courts which is used as a restroom and concession stand, but is completely inadequate for anything else. East Surry athletic teams coming to play games had no place to dress or store equipment.
Earlier this year, articles in this newspaper and on the Internet, as well as a GoFundMe campaign, managed to raise several thousand dollars toward the project, and the booster club was eventually able to begin construction of the facility.
Hayco Construction, LLC, of Pilot Mountain began construction of the fieldhouse in October. The land was donated by Pilot Mountain Foundation. The fieldhouse itself will cost $300,000 to built, and will be adequate to serve the needs of East Surry’s baseball, softball, tennis and cross country programs, as well as providing modern restroom facilities and a concession stand.
Plans are for the Harry Downs Fieldhouse to be ready for the 2018 spring athletic season.