Organized youth athletic
programs flourished in the 1950’s and 1960’s in
sports-crazed Wilson, North Carolina. Hundreds and thousands
of youngsters participated in football, basketball, baseball,
track, tennis, and golf programs sponsored by the City of
Wilson Recreation Department. By the time the best teen-aged
boys were old enough to contribute to the legendary powerhouse
football teams at Fike High School, they all were ahead of
the competition. Briggs Sherwood was a beneficiary of that
environment and would contribute to the legacy of Fike “Cyclone”
football. Unfortunately, a head injury during a scrimmage
at the beginning of his senior year in 1967 ended his football-playing
career. However, the lessons he learned on the playground
of his youth would be the lessons he would teach during adulthood.
Service is noble. Teamwork is important. People can make a
Fast forward to 1978 when Briggs
took up residence in his new home in majestic Asheville, NC.
With little or no knowledge about the game of soccer, Briggs
was drawn in by the joyous sounds of children playing on Saturday
mornings at Glen Arden Elementary School, just down the street
from his house. They were under the energetic and demonstrative
direction and ranting of Irishman Edgar Ramsey. That same
year, Briggs’ oldest son, Arean, joined a team that
needed a coach. Briggs stepped forward. And for the past thirty-plus
years he has devoted himself to the growth of soccer in Asheville,
Buncombe County, and Western North Carolina.
Briggs Sherwood’s extraordinary
contributions as an influential and dedicated promoter of
the game of soccer in the Asheville-Buncombe County Area have
earned him the distinction of being selected as a member of
the fifth class of inductees of the North Carolina Soccer
Hall of Fame on this, the fourth day of January, 2003.
Less than a year after volunteering
to coach his oldest son’s team, Briggs didn’t
need a profound revelation to realize the game of soccer needed
a team of enthusiasts to help it grow. So he put his organizational
and leadership skills to work by developing the Asheville
area youth soccer league under the sponsorship of the YMCA.
He recruited many eager players and a few willing parents.
About the same time, he began watching Sunday afternoon pickup
games played by Asheville-area adults on whatever fields they
could find available. He grew fascinated with the artistry
displayed by the mostly European and Hispanic transplants.
In the early 80’s he was turned on to watching the flamboyant
teams at Clemson University. The Nigerians presented a beautiful,
brilliant, rhythmic game that mesmerized the faithful Tiger
fans at Riggs Field. Much of what Briggs witnessed at Clemson
was worth trying to replicate for the youngsters who lived
two hours away in Asheville.
In the Spring of 1981, Briggs
helped form the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association.
He held several positions with ABYSA including district coordinator
and coach. In 1987 he spearheaded ABYSA’s affiliation
with NCYSA. In 1988 he was the organizer and assistant coach
for the 76 Flyers, a classic team that included son number
two, Beecher. In the 90’s he authored several successful
proposals presented to the County of Buncombe and the City
of Asheville to gain support for ABYSA initiatives for playing
facilities. In the mid-90’s he showed up at the practice
of son number three, Ben, on a day when his horoscope indicated
he would “rediscover an old love affair.” In the
late 90’s he helped initiate the after-school Soccer
Start program to encourage children who might not otherwise
have opportunities to play the game. And now, even after years
of service, he coaches son number four, Franc.
Briggs Sherwood possesses a
unique understanding of how to bring people together to achieve
a common goal. He does it by seeking out those with expertise
and making them know they are needed. He inspires those without
expertise by making them feel they can contribute too. He
is the master of grass roots efforts to bring people to the
game and the game to the people.