“On a rainy night in September 1963, the seeds were planted for the growth of soccer in the Cape Fear Region of North Carolina. That’s when Barry Howard witnessed his first soccer game.” – narrative from Barry Howard Appreciation Day, May 6, 2006.
So began, in such a seemingly small way, a North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame career that graced eastern North Carolina and points beyond. We recognize the late Charles Barrett (Barry) Howard for his legacy to the sport of soccer and his alma mater, Campbell College.
Coach Howard was born on May 28, 1945 in Dunn, NC and remained nearly all his life in nearby Buies Creek, home of Campbell. It was there, under the tutelage of Coach Jim “Catfish” Cole (NC Soccer HOF, 1999), that he earned All South and team MVP honors, graduating in 1969 with a B.A. in Physical Education. He began coaching in the fall of that year at Buies Creek High School, working with basketball and baseball. But it was a year later that he made a significant move, starting the school’s first soccer team, and they were at that time the only 1A state public school sponsoring the sport.
After earning a masters degree from ECU in 1974, he returned to coaching and eventually took over the soccer program at consolidated Harnett Central from 1978 to 1981. His high school accomplishments include four regional titles in a decade of coaching, certainly highlighted by a semifinal berth in his first state invitational high school tournament (1970).
In the 1980’s, Coach Howard served as an assistant to Tim Morse at Campbell, where the club became a Division I contender. He became head coach in 1989 and served in that capacity for two years.
At least a dozen of his high school players went on to play college soccer and several continued to teach and coach at the scholastic or college level. One of his most notable players was Tony Johnson (NC Soccer HOF, 1999), a UNC All-American and professional player. Coach Howard was inducted into the Campbell University Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and an appreciation day was held for him in 2006 (see above). Sadly, he passed away on December 5, 2008 at age 63. He was survived by his wife Beverley and daughter Amy, and predeceased by his son Barrett.
Outside of Coach Howard’s on-field career, it is important to note two of his major contributions to Campbell University and the sport of soccer. In 1983, he became president of the Howard Christian Educational Fund. Begun in 1926 and incorporated in 1951 by his father, the Reverend Charles Barrett Howard, Sr., this fund has assisted more than 3500 students from all 50 states and 118 countries over 80 years with loans, gifts and scholarships. In 1991 Coach Howard would turn to running this program on a full time basis and it continued to be a significant part of the university.
In soccer, it is important to note that Coach Howard was a founding member of the North Carolina Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association, along with fellow Campbell graduates Rick Helms and Bill Holleman (NC Soccer HOF, 2000) as part of a larger, ground-breaking group. He is given credit for authoring the constitution of the organization, and as with so many of his contributions, we in soccer are the better for it.
“That September night, Barry walked out of the family house in Buies Creek because the lights were on next door at Taylor Field. In a steady downpour, he stood on the edge of the touch line with mud running over his shoes…… and was hooked.” – May 6, 2006