story by: Gracie Reinhardt and Aleen Ammar
The Roberson gymnasium wall holds 43 state championship banners. Athletic directors and
teachers around the school have been the primary source to these successes. Many of these
staff members have left their legacy in our Hall of Fame.
In the 55 years of the school’s existence, TC now hosts dozens of coaches who have either
been inducted into halls of fame or have been named as the best in the state at what they do.
These coaches have created legacies that extend far beyond a simple game or contest. In fact,
two Roberson coaches have been recognized by their sport’s state halls of fame over the years:
Rob Wilcher and Tom Smith.
Wilcher, who led the girls’ and boys’ soccer program for over 21 years, was recently selected
to be inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame. Wilcher has previously been honored by the Appalachian State Hall of Fame for soccer in 2006.
Throughout Wilcher’s experience, he has led the soccer teams to over 1,000 wins, three
state championships and six state championship appearances. According to players, he
constantly worked on building a team while respecting the players on the field.
“Because Wilcher was very serious, he had such good composure as a coach. It made the
atmosphere better to focus,” senior Sarah Lewis said.
Current soccer head coach Joshua Martin, coached with Wilcher for four years as an
assistant. Martin explained how Wilcher’s legacy has created a realm of success for the team to
“He loved TC Roberson and soccer. His main piece of advice was to try to create an
atmosphere where kids wanted to be a Ram and take pride in that-where it meant something,”
On Jan. 27, 2018, Wilcher will be inducted into the Hall of Fame of North Carolina in Raleigh.
Wilcher expressed his gratitude to the players and faculty members of Roberson and said he
believes this accomplishment is owed to those who continually supported him like his wife,
Andrea and his daughter Scottie.
“I’m very honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but I owe my success to the players I
coached, the assistant coaches I worked with, and all the folks at T.C. Roberson who were
supportive. The student body has always come out to support us and it makes a great
atmosphere,” Wilcher said.
Senior Mazie Hughes said that she will remember that Wilcher always left the team with the
words “Play hard, play fast, play smart, and most of all play for one another.”
While Wilcher left his legacy on the field, Smith earned his fame in the dugout. After 30 years
of coaching at TC, Smith was inducted into the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association
Hall of Fame in 2014.
During Smith’s coaching years at Roberson, he led the boys’ baseball team to three
championship titles. Last year, Smith watched the then-4A division Rams earn another title.
“I’m probably the only person in Roberson history to see all four state championships,” Smith
While Smith is a retired now, his legacy as a coach has extended beyond high school. After
retiring from Buncombe County Schools, Smith went on to coach the UNCA Bulldogs for seven years. He believes the skills he learned during his career taught him how to create strong bonds
with his players.
“It’s our job to nurture the next generation, or generations in my case. The one-on- one
contact— them being a part of my life, and me being a part of their life,” Smith said.
Smith has trained several professional athletes who have made it to the big leagues.
Recently, his last high school player to make it to the MLB was Cameron Maybin, who just won
a World Series ring with the Houston Astros. Maybin personally worked with Smith while he was
a student at Roberson.
“We were very fortunate. During my time there, we had five players that were state players of
the year, two that were Gatorade players of the year, and four young men who played major
league baseball off of each of those state championship teams, we had someone reach the
major leagues and win a World Series ring… most recently Cameron Maybin,” Smith said.
Smith described his induction into the Ring of Gold as a humbling and honoring experience.
He praised the community for their support in helping him earn this lifelong achievement.
“It was quite an honor and humbling to think the community thought of me that much. It’s
something through my coaching career and even in retirement that I try to live up to,” Smith
Other than Smith and Wilcher, there have been many successful and long-tenured coaches
at Roberson. Sixteen former Roberson coaches are in the school’s Ring of Gold. Additionally,
current Athletic Director and basketball coach Laura Beatty was inducted into the Hall of Fame
at Elon University for basketball and softball during her college years.
Around campus, four athletic facilities or courts are named in honor of past coaches,
including the baseball (Holmes-Smith) and football (Norris “Pee Wee” Jones) fields, the main
basketball court (Rich Sizemore) and the main gymnasium (Roy E “Buddy” Baldwin).
Further, current wrestling coach Damon Brown and swimming coach Jim Cottom have a
combined 40 seasons of experience at Roberson. And 2015 saw the retirement of long-time
cross-country coach Dave Culp, who has coached over seven state championship teams and
“I have a good group of assistant coaches who help out, and a great group of kids. They
work hard and have good parent support; I’ve been fortunate enough to get the benefits of it,”
Coach Brown said.
Roberson’s legacy coaches are still involved with the teams they’ve coached in the past.
“Legacy has to do with how people remember you and how you treat people, not just the numbers,” Civics teacher Chad Inman said.