The Union Pines High School track might be getting a new name to go along with repairs that should return the facility to full use in the coming weeks.
The Moore County Board of Education is collecting public input this month as it considers dedicating the renewed track to legendary coach Nat Carter.
The track has been effectively out of commission for several years. Inadequate drainage compromised the track’s foundation to the point where cracks developed in the asphalt base. Union Pines’ track practices have been restricted to certain lanes and the school has held meets offsite since 2015.
The school district attempted to replace the track last year, but its requests for contractor quotes either did not return the three bids required in school board policy or bids came in over budget. The work could not be completed over the winter because the synthetic surface cannot be exposed to cold weather immediately after installation.
Over the summer, the track’s drainage system received an overhaul and the base was reinstalled. Surface material will take about three days to apply. That work will be performed when weather conditions are dry enough.
Julie Verchick, a Union Pines track parent, proposed affixing Carter’s name over the track to honor a “truly remarkable individual.”
Carter taught in Moore County Schools for 31 years before his retirement in 1997. But his 40 years as a coach — between Aberdeen Middle School, Pinecrest and Union Pines — might be his most enduring legacy. He is currently coaching Union Pines’ cross country and women’s track teams.
Carter’s credits as a coach include 33 conference championships: 22 in cross-country, eight in outdoor track and field, and three in indoor track and field. He has also coached four state champions.
“This dear man has given years of his time and talent with deep dedication, sharing his passion for and knowledge of sports with many, many student athletes while influencing their lives in countless positive ways,” Verchick wrote in a formal proposal to the board.
Carter established the Sandhills Track Club in 1972 and it’s still running strong more than four decades later, with youth athletes regularly performing well at regional USA Track and Field competitions.
Union Pines added Carter to its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Last year, he was one of 13 finalists for the national Brooks Running Inspiring Coaches program and he has been the 3-A conference coach of the year for five different teams.
The gymnasium at Aberdeen Elementary School — formerly Aberdeen Middle — is also named for Carter, but that gym may only be in use for another few years as the school is scheduled to be replaced in 2020.
Union Pines will hold a community forum at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 to discuss dedicating the new track to Carter. Letters concerning the proposal can be mailed to Principal Andy McCormick at Union Pines High School, 1981 Union Church Road, Cameron, NC 28326. The school board will review all public input in October.