By Kim UnderwoodWinston-Salem/Forsyth County SchoolsAUGUST 17 – Jim Spivey is grateful for having had the good fortune to have teachers, coaches and principals who believed in and encouraged him, and, as a teacher, coach and athletic director, he wanted to do the same for other young people.“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like a pat on the back; that’s one of the greatest motivators there is,” said Spivey, who, at the end of June, retired from his job as the athletic director and a teacher at Reynolds High School.“The fact that Jim Spivey spent 40 plus years on the job speaks volumes for his love of kids, Reynolds High School, and high school athletics,” said Art Paschal, who retired recently as principal at Reynolds.
Spivey joined the school system in 1967 and became the athletic director at Reynolds in 1986. In 2002, he was named Athletic Director of the Year for this region by both the N.C. High School Athletic Association and N.C. Athletic Director's Association.
“Most people have no idea of all the issues and circumstances that arise in a large high school athletic department,” Paschal said. “Jim always approached things in a very level-headed and sensible manner and always looked upon the program as an extension of the total school….I have had the good fortune of being around some wonderful educators in my career and Jim Spivey is certainly at the top of the list.”
Greg Gentry, the school system’s athletic director, said that Spivey built strong relationships not only with students and coaches but also with members of the wider community. “He was the statesman of the athletic directors and a stabilizing force for Reynolds High School and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools,” Gentry said. “We could count on him for anything we needed done. He’s going to be missed.”
In retirement, Spivey plans to devote more time to helping his wife, Laura, around the house and enjoying such sports as tennis. In 1990 and 1991, he won the city tennis championships in the 45 or older division, and he was in the finals another two years.
Spivey was born in Newport, Tenn. His family moved to Mount Airy in the late 1940s and down to Winston-Salem in the early 1950s when his father, a bus driver for Greyhound, was transferred. His mother worked in a uniform store. Spivey started school at Sedge Garden in the days when the school went through the eighth grade.
In the eighth grade, Spivey had Bob Dockery as a teacher and coach. “He made us believe we could do anything,” Spivey said.
“Jimmy was a very good athlete and was the type of kid teachers love to work with in the classroom,” said Dockery.
Winston-Salem and Forsyth County still had separate school systems when Spivey went on to Glenn High School. When the process of merging the school systems began, Spivey, as the captain of the football team, was invited to be on the committee choosing school colors, mascot and such for the new high school – East Forsyth.
At East Forsyth, he met another educator who would have a profound influence on him – Fred Lewis, the principal. “I used to think there were two of him because, everywhere I sent, I saw him,” Spivey said.
Spivey appreciated the attention and respect he gave students. “He made me believe I could do things.”
Football coach Carl Clarke was also a major influence. “He helped me to know who I was,” Spivey said.
“He always tried to do his level best,” said Clarke.
Dockery had kept up with Spivey and encouraged him to go on to college. “I was pleased to encourage him to attend Appalachian State and was not surprised he chose a teaching and coaching career,” Dockery said.
After graduating from Appalachian, Spivey joined the school system as a teacher at what was then Southwest Junior High School. He stayed there for six years, coaching football and basketball and teaching health and physical education. During the years when the school system had high schools with grades 9 and 10 and senior high schools with grades 11 and 12, Atkins was one of the 9-10 schools. When the principal, Bob Golding, offered him a job there, he took it, staying there for 11 years while coaching tennis and football. One of the things he enjoyed about those days was that football practice started at 2:30 p.m., ended at 4:30 p.m. and all the students were home by 5 p.m. “It was fun, and it didn’t consume their lives.”Spivey and his family lived in the Ardmore neighborhood and his two sons would be going to Reynolds, so he was happy to say “yes” when the principal, Bob Deaton, offered him a job. Since then, he has worked a lot of night and weekends. An athletic director’s responsibilities include scheduling, dealing with booking fees, ordering supplies and equipment, interviewing applicants for coaching jobs, dealing with the concerns of players and parents, maintaining fields, dealing with one crisis or another. “There is no telling when you might get a phone call.” When he answered, the caller would often begin with, “You got a minute?” A Sunday afternoon might find him lining the soccer field. During one stretch this spring, he worked eight straight school nights. “It’s not hard work but it’s a long day,” he said.