Longtime Garner football coach considering retirement after 32 years on the sidelines

High School Sports

GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) — Thurman Leach conducted what could possibly be his final practice at Garner High School on Thursday. For more than three decades Leach has been a fixture on the Trojans sidelines, a run that just might come to an end Friday night against Apex Friendship.

“What will go into that decision will be my family, these young men right here that I’ve had the privilege of coaching the staff and just some soul searching on my part,” Leach admitted.

Leach learned from some of the best coaches our area has ever seen. The dynamic, state championship-winning Hal Stewart, followed by Nelson Smith, a tactician known for his game-planning. For the past nine years, Leach has led Garner, a program that dominated the Triangle in the ’80s and ’90s.

“It’s been great, it’s been fantastic,” gushed Leach. “I’ve been blessed to be here 32 years to be a part of these young men’s lives and to see 32 senior classes, it’s been fantastic.”

An all-American at Gardner-Webb University, Leach played four years at Fuquay-Varina High School and was an assistant coach for one season at his alma mater. Thirty-two years later Leach, at least for now, is still doing what he loves most.

“You do it because you enjoy teaching,” said Leach. “You are a teacher and you enjoy teaching and that’s why you do it.”

And those lessons taught continue to touch the lives of the fathers and husbands he once coached.

“It’s a big honor to be a part of their lives at a point you made a difference there,” Leach said.

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