R. Briggs Sherwood
Sherwood, who grew up in Wilson, NC, has made significant contributions to the growth of soccer in North Carolina, particularly in Western North Carolina.
Sherwood, who grew up in Wilson, NC, has made significant contributions to the growth of soccer in North Carolina, particularly in Western North Carolina. A “Soccer Dad”, he has been an outstanding coach and administrator for the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association. He has been an innovator of programs, including a driving force behind a highly successful Soccer Start program that brought the game to children who otherwise might never have had a chance to play the game. He has also been a leader in the development of soccer facilities in the Greater Asheville area.
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 difference.
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.