Piercy has been involved with Golden Raiders athletics since the school opened in 1980, and he’s helped usher in some of their biggest moments.
“I’ve watched and coached a lot of good athletes at North,” Piercy said. “But what kept me coming back was the kids and how nice they were. I never married, so I guess you could say that I was always married to the sport that was in season. When the school closes next season, I’ll probably turn in my keys.”
A special group of runners came through Bloomingdale in the early 1990s and Piercy was lucky enough to be in a position to help the athletes achieve their goals.
“As coaches and athletes, we learned from the ones that came before us and there were a lot of them from this area,” Piercy said. “Cross country was very important to us back then. We learned from all of the greats like Tom Coughenour and Dan Crowe. That crew that I coached in the early ’90s was really fun to coach.”
North finished as the 1991 state runner-up in cross country — Oak Ridge pulled out the victory by a mere seven points — but the Golden Raiders went on to win the 4x800 relay championship at the state outdoor championships the following spring.
“It wasn’t really surprising because I thought we could win the thing,” Piercy said. “We were ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AAA and top 10 in the South. We had three guys run in the 15-minute range on that day and our sixth man ended up being our fifth that day.
“Mark (Caldwell) and Jake (Doutt) were beautiful runners. Mark came to North and he was maybe 5-foot-7, but he left 6-1 and built. All of those boys were great and I think about those teams a lot.”
The winning 4x800 relay blistered the field at state with its time of 8:04, bettering its season best by more than 10 seconds.
“We had a really good team. We had three guys that could run right around two minutes or better,” Piercy said. “We set all kinds of school records with that team. We did the 800 relay one time and did 1,600 relay. Both times we set a school record. We did a lot of speed and not a whole lot of mileage. We had some great places to run like Bays Mountain, Steele Creek and we even had a mile course up in Fair Acres.”
ON THE BASKETBALL COURT
Piercy also was an assistant coach for the Lady Golden Raiders basketball team in the ’80s when they were competitive in the Big 7 Conference.
“Laura Vaughn was probably one of the best girls basketball players I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She could shoot it from anywhere on the floor and this was without the 3-point line. She scored over 2,500 points and ended up playing at Alabama. She would’ve scored over 3,000 had there been a 3-point line.
“I had her on the junior varsity team for about five minutes when she was a freshman. That’s the honest truth. She was that good when she was that young.”
Piercy also was an assistant coach on the basketball teams that saw some of the Arnold boys come through the North ranks.
“There was not a better or more athletic family around,” he said. “I remember Coach (Buck) Van Huss said that Granville (Arnold) was one of the toughest competitors he’d ever coached against.”
Piercy said it’s almost impossible to pick out one specific moment he can call his favorite.
“When you’ve been around sports as long as I have, you see a lot of great athletes and meet a lot of great people,” he said. “Coaching those boys was a lot of fun. I remember one time there was this little girl we had transfer in from Holland. She ran track over there and I remember her work ethic was unmatched. She’d do anything to get better and she was always in the weight room trying to test her limits.
“We had some really good girls track teams and won the conference a couple of times. Charlie Hicks did a great job with the girls and we had a complete team with sprints, jumps, throws and distance.”
Piercy noted that parents have played a huge role in North’s successes through the years.
“We had a great bunch of parents to come through with a great bunch of kids,” he said. “Whether we went to D-B or to Knoxville or Nashville or to Charlotte, they were always there and supporting their kids. That’s probably one of the best things about it.”
THE RAIDERS’ ROCK
Jim Barker, a former assistant principal at North, summed up Piercy’s importance to the school.
“(Piercy) is an institution in our community and is widely respected and loved by the entire Raider nation,” Barker said.