Herk DeGraw graduated from West Morris (NJ) Regional High School in 1970 and began studying at Greensboro College a few months later. He played soccer at Greensboro College for three years, including the first year they fielded a team in 1972. After graduating from Greensboro College in 1974, he began a career as an educator in Guilford County and that still continues after thirty-one years. He began coaching the men’s soccer team at Grimsley High School, in Greensboro, in 1979 and started the women’s soccer program there in 1984. Regardless of what criteria one uses to measure success, Coach DeGraw and his Grimsley Whirlie teams have certainly attained it.
Herk DeGraw’s extraordinary achievement as the men’s and women’s soccer coach at Grimsley High School has earned him the distinction of being selected as a member of the ninth class of inductees to the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on this, the eleventh day of February, 2006.
In the 27 seasons that Coach DeGraw directed the Grimsley men’s soccer teams, they have a record of 391-122-28. They qualified for the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs seventeen times and advanced to the state finals three times. He expects his 2005 team to be the last Grimsley men’s team that he will coach. He stepped down from that post at the conclusion of the season. He will, however, continue coaching the Whirlies women’s soccer team. In the 22 previous seasons he has directed the women’s teams, they have amassed a record of 368-45-18 while building a reputation as one of the most successful high school women’s soccer programs in North Carolina and the United States. Under Coach DeGraw, the Whirlies appeared in the NCHSAA 4A state finals twelve times and won the state championship six times (1990, ’93, ’94, ’96, 2002, ’04).
The achievements earned by Coach DeGraw’s teams have earned him well-deserved recognition from his peers. He was named Coach of the Year by the North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association (NCSCA) five times – twice for men’s teams and three times for women’s teams and was named the South Region Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association in 1988. He became involved in NCSCA activities, helping to promote the game and the high school student-athletes who played it, long before earning the accolades. He would eventually rise to the position of vice-president of the organization. He has organized and hosted numerous All-State Banquets and Awards Ceremonies to honor our state’s best high school soccer players.
DeGraw coached the west women in the inaugural North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) East-West All-Star game in Greensboro in 1992. He continues to support the effort to honor some of the most talented men and women soccer players in the state by serving as the site coordinator for the annual East-West All-Star games at UNC-G.
Herk credits much of his success to the good counseling he received from two Grimsley coaching icons – Bob Jamison and Bob Sawyer. He recalls their wisdom, generosity, and support – not only about coaching, but also about life in general.
Of his in induction to the NC Soccer Hall of Fame, Coach DeGraw says, “This is very special. I may be the one being inducted, but it represents an awful lot of hard work by a lot of student-athletes and assistant coaches with whom I’ve been associated over 49 seasons of competition. I hope they all find some enjoyment in this honor and take it as a tribute to their hard work. High school soccer is only partially about soccer. It’s also about learning about leadership and making memories and having fun. I hope the young men and women I’ve coached experienced some of that along the way.”