Officially, North Meck High's basketball court will be named Leroy Holden Court, after the longtime Viking basketball coach and athletic director who often held court during 38 years of service that were marked by his fiery presence on the sideline and his caring spirit off it.
The move was approved during the June 26 meeting of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Holden's name is the first to be attached to any athletic venue at North, which opened in 1951.
"It's an honor," Holden said this week. "I'm very humbled by it. I spent a lot of time in that gym, a lot of hard work. It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of memories."
The Vikings will honor Holden during a to-be-announced home game this upcoming basketball season, when they will also unveil signage marking the court's naming.
Holden left North after the 2009 school year. When he did, Joey Burch, North's principal at the time, had this to say:
"When I think North Meck athletics, I think Leroy Holden. He's not only been a figure at North, but he's well known and well respected across the state. He's been a mentor to countless young men and women."
That, in essence, is why current principal Matthew Hayes, athletic director Kevin Wilson, booster club president Ken Beasley and others led the charge to get the court named after him. And Wilson said, with the school still transitioning after losing much of its previous attendance zone to Hough High, recognizing North's athletic identity is important maybe now more than ever. The Vikings are trying to re-establish themselves, just as they did following the openings of Vance (1997), Hopewell (2001) and Mallard Creek (2007), which all absorbed some of North's student body.
"If we don't know who we were, we don't know who we can become," says Wilson. "It's cliché, but it's true."
A Charlotte native and a graduate of Harding High, Holden coached the Viking boys' basketball team to 464 wins in 25 years. His teams made six regional appearances (1984, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994), and in 1987, the Holden-coached Vikings reached the 4A state final. It was the school's only appearance in a boys' basketball state championship game until North made back-to-back trips in 2005 and 2006, when Holden was in the stands looking on as athletic director.
Holden, who will turn 67 Monday, coached a little bit of everything during his career — he also spent two early years at East Meck, giving him 40 years total — and became North's athletic director in 1985. He retired in 2003, but returned to "double dip" until 2009 when the school system parted ways with retirees who were drawing a salary and full retirement.
Holden was inducted into the N.C. Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame in March. He will also be honored as a Viking Legend during the second annual North Meck High Football Kickoff Dinner Wednesday, Aug. 22.
The event, set for University City United Methodist Church two days before the Vikings open the season at Independence, will begin with a reception featuring heavy hors d'oeuvres and include speakers such as Wilson, Hayes, Holden, North football coach Brad Baker and former Viking players and coaches.
The cost is $10 per person, paid at the door.