Hickory High's longtime coach John Worley to retire

John Worley has spent the last 28 years working for Hickory High School, as a coach and athletic director.

In fact, Worley has spent his whole life in Hickory. He graduated from both Hickory High School and Lenoir-Rhyne.

And while he may not be leaving Hickory, Worley says it's time for a change. He announced his plans to retire from Hickory Public Schools effective Feb. 29.

"This was a tough decision, but it's time," Worley said. "I've been fortunate to be around great people here and I'll miss it but now it's time for the next chapter."

Worley has coached three sports at Hickory, softball, boy's basketball and football, and has amassed a record in the three sports of 445-177-1. He has led teams to nine conference titles, five trips to the state finals (three with softball and twice in basketball) and was also an assistant football coach for the 1996 Hickory High football team that won the state 3A title.

Those memories are fond for Worley, but they are not why he got into coaching nor is it the biggest thing he'll miss.

"Going to the state championships were great experiences," Worley said, "but the toughest part about leaving is going to be the people. You build relationships with your staff and players and watch them grow and that's what I'm going to miss."

Worley graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1983 with a degree in history, and started at Hickory High School almost immediately, first as a drop-out prevention counselor then as an athletic trainer before getting into coaching as an assistant in football and basketball.

In softball the Red Tornadoes went 182-78 during his time with two trips to the state finals, while in basketball Worley's record was 191-60 with five conference titles, five sectional titles and made the state championship game twice.

And in football Worley led his teams to a 72-39-1 record in just nine seasons, reaching the state playoffs every year. One of his former players, kicker Ryan Succop, is currently playing in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Worley says that what kept him going was the kids.

"I feel young at heart," Worley said. "I love being around the kids because it's just great to watch them grow and mature. That combined with my love for sports just made all this seem like a perfect fit."

And what is next?

Worley laughed and said "I'm going to look for a job."