Local Treasures:Talking to Coach Bill Slayton(Southeast Guilford HS/Eastern Guilford HS) celebrating his 90th Birthday, Today on the Fourth of July

He was a local high school coach for around 36 years, and he coached the Southeast Guilford Falcons to the 1969 NCHSAA 3-A State Baseball Title…He took over a winless Southeast Guilford Falcons football team, and had them in the 3-A State Semifinals in just five years…

They called him, and still to this day, call him Coach….Coach Bill Slayton, a true local treasure celebrating his 90th birthday today, on Sunday July 4, 2021….

We had the chance to talk to the ole Coach, and asked Coach Bill Slayton a few questions, as his 90th birthday celebration is underway…

Here are those question for Coach Bill Slayton, a retired teacher and coach from the Guilford County Schools system, and now 90 years young…

1)To what do you attribute your longevity, now at 90 years old???
I have been in athletics my entire life and always tried to stay young…Being involved in athletics all of those years is the big thing…I did a lot of weightlifting work on my own, and was always working out, when my health has allowed…The kids I coached, also helped keep me young….

2)Tell us about that Southeast Guilford State Championship team of 1969??? How tough was that baseball team??? What do remember about your football teams at Southeast Guilford High School???
We won the baseball title because we played together for a whole cause…We played in a tough baseball league, the Mid-State 3-A, and you had to win a lot of games just to keep on going for the State Title…We played a bunch of our games after the school year was already over, and it was a tough/long hard process…Our boys had a lot of determination and we just kept on getting better…We played like we weren’t going to lose…Our kids had been playing together for several years, and they had become a very strong unit, a very strong TEAM…Terry Clapp was our leader, and he was a leader by example..

Football was simplified….We were again in a very tough league, and it was a tough 10-game schedule…In football you just had to build on what you were doing…It took a very large commitment to weight training on the part of our football players…If they didn’t hit the weights, we would not have made the progress that we made…We started building with one set of weights, then we added two, then three, then four, and then we had five sets of weights…

This weight work had our guys ready to face the competition, and that was what it was all about, COMPETITION…The tough competition is what made you get better…Baseball had regular season ball, you had the Summer ball, with the Greensboro Colt Baseball League and the American Legion leagues, and you even had some schools playing Fall ball, all the way back in the 1960’s and 70’s…You could work on your baseball almost year-round, but with football, you had to train in the off-season, and then be ready when August 1st got here, and then it was all Football, until you were knocked out of the playoffs, and back then, only the Conference Champion got in the postseason playoffs….Bottom line, it all goes back to that word, COMPETITION…That is what makes you get better…COMPETITION in your off-season workouts, in your practice sessions, and in your games…The key word, is COMPETITION…

3)Tell us about your coaching philosophy, your coaching style… What kind of coach were you???
My coaching style was all business…I expected that from my teams…All business…Once you got to know them well, and when they got to know you, the players knew what to expect, and what I wanted them to do…I had to earn their trust, and they had to trust me, and I had to be able to trust them…You have to get kids to understand what you want them to do, so you can do well together, as a team…You have to give them a chance to play, so that they can get better, and so they can show you what they can do…

I would say that I was a hard-nosed coach, but I made adjustments over the years, as I found out what my kids could do…You had to understand your kids skills, and I had some skilled athletes, I just had to learn where to play them, and what they could do, and be sure to push them past their limits, so that they could learn to do more than they thought they could do…

I liked the fact that we played our home baseball games up at the old War Memorial Stadium…We did not have playable home field at Southeast Guilford, so we played our games at the Memorial Stadium, and we loved that place…We did not have a home field advantage, but our kids had learned how to play together, no matter where they were playing, and it didn’t matter that we were not at our home field…I liked that in our kids, they learned to play hard and were successful anywhere…

4)How do you see things being different today, Athletically and Academically???
The importance of being competitive does not change…Today, for the athletics, it is still all about the COMPETITION…You have to have it, to get better…You teach the kids and get them into tough competition…Nothing beats good competition…It makes you get better…Kids are still working hard today, and that has not changed…They do have more opportunities than the kids back in my day had, but they have to learn and know how to use those opportunities….

The athletes’ first responsibility has always been his or her grades in the classroom…The athletes should be the ones setting the example in the classroom…I have been gone too long to tell everything that is going on, and happening today…But, I do know that the Pandemic changed everyone’s daily academic and athletic routine…I am hoping that everyone can back to their regular routines, this upcoming Fall…

The job of the coach and the teacher is still the same today, that it was back in 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and so on…Teach the student/kids/student-athletes to be well-rounded/successful on the field, on the court, and in the classroom…

5)If you had to go back and do it all over again, would you do it all the same exact way???
I would probably do it all the same way…If I tried to change things, I might mess something up…This has been a good life for me…I was blessed to be from a small town(Granite Falls, N.C.) and in my old town, Summer baseball was once the dominant sport…That baseball competition pretty much made me who I am today…A lot of things would need to stay the same…I arrived at Southeast Guilford High School, and I had to push those kids…They had not been winners before….I enjoyed coaching football and baseball, but I can tell you, that 1969 State Baseball Title, was a crowning achievement for my coaching career….Kids need competition and kids need experience, I think I was able to give them that at Southeast Guilford HS and at Eastern Guilford HS…

Coach Bill Slayton came out of Granite Falls, N.C., went on to serve in the military out of high school, came out of the military and attended Appalachian State Teachers College, in Boone, N.C., where he played college baseball for the Mountaineers, then he graduated from APP, went on to teach/coach in Lenoir, N.C., before he landed in Guilford County, where he taught and coached, at Southeast Guilford High School, and at Eatern Guilford High School….

Coach Slayton, born on July 4, 1931, and we all wish him Happy Birthday here today, on July 4, 2021…Happy 90th Birthday to Coach Bill Slayton….

1 comment

  1. I really enjoyed playing on his football team back in 75 through 77. He was a great coach, big on fundamentals, discipline, (like he said) all business, but we knew he cared. I learned a lot of life lessons. Happy birthday Coach!

Comments are closed.