Two of West Lincoln High School’s coaching greats are being celebrated for their achievements. Wayne Navey and Butch Ross once wrestled each other on the mats at WLHS. They were also roommates in college. They’ve been imparting their wisdom to up and coming wrestlers and other athletes more than a combined eight decades.
At the Lincoln County Board of Education meeting on Nov. 10, members of the board voted to
approve WLHS’ request to name the old gymnasium in honor of Ross and the press box to be named in honor of Navey. Both are lifelong Lincoln County residents and products of Lincoln
“I’ve had teams that I didn’t think were going to be very good, but they just think they’re supposed to be, and they become good,” Navey said. “If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. I still see kids from 40 years ago that I coached. In my first year of teaching, I was 22. I’ve got a lot of good memories. Mostly you remember the people.”
In his job, Navey added, relationships are very important, and they have special bonds with the kids.
“Sports is an avenue for teaching kids discipline and knowing that they have to be accountable to each other,” he said. “They learn that there’s a great cause than just themselves. These skills will get them further than a lot of others.”
Ross, who is now the head wrestling coach at WLHS has had a tremendous amount of success with his program.
“The kids have always given us 100%,” Ross said. “They’re tough and they don’t take losing easy. If you have kids that’ll give you 100% you can do a lot with them. They always think they’re going to win. They don’t have give up in them. If they do get beat, they come back and work harder.”
Navey graduated from WLHS in 1974, where he lettered in both football and wrestling. He continued his education at Appalachian State University, where he lettered in wrestling under Coach Ken Koenig. After graduating from Appalachian State University in 1978, he began his career in education as a teacher for exceptional children at Union Elementary while coaching football and wrestling at WLHS. The following year he transitioned to WLHS as a teacher of exceptional children and continued as a football and wrestling coach. He obtained his master’s degree in special education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1992 and completed his school administration add on licensure in 1994. He transitioned to the assistant principal of instruction at WLHS for the 1995-1996 school year. After much thought, his desire to coach athletics was too great. He left administration and returned to the classroom and his coaching duties as a physical education teacher at WLHS. He completed a master’s degree in physical education from Gardner-Webb University in 1997 and taught physical education at WLHS until his retirement of 39 years teaching in Lincoln County Schools.
While he retired from teaching, Navey is still coaching. He coached football at WLHS from 1978-1995, 1996-2015, and 2018-current. He was the assistant wrestling coach at WLHS from 1978-1981 and head wrestling coach from 1982-1988, where his team won two conference championships and WLHS’s first individual state champion. In 1996, he assumed the role of head wrestling coach at West Lincoln Middle School and continues in that role today.
WLHS is known for their wrestling program.
Graduating from WLHS in 1975, Ross also lettered in wrestling. He continued his education at Appalachian State University, where he lettered in wrestling under Coach Ken Koenig and Paul Mance. After graduating from Appalachian State University in 1979, he began his career in education as a physical education teacher at Love Memorial and North Brook #3 Elementary schools while being the head wrestling coach at West Lincoln Jr. High School. After three years at the elementary level, he transitioned to West Lincoln Jr. High School as a physical/health education teacher and continued as head wrestling coach while officiating high school wrestling. In 1990 Lincoln County Schools transitioned from junior high schools to middle schools. Ross elected to transition to WLHS at this time and continued as head wrestling coach at the newly formed West Lincoln Middle School. He obtained his master’s degree in drivers education from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1992 in order to teach drivers education within the school system as was the practice at the time. Ross continued in his role of physical/health education teacher at WLHS until his retirement of 38 years of teaching in LCS.
From 1979 through 1996 Ross was the head wrestling coach for West Lincoln Jr. High/Middle school. In 1996, Ross took over as the varsity head wrestling coach at WLHS. In just his fourth year, the WLHS team won the 2000 State Championship. Under Ross, the WLHS wrestling team won another State Championship in 2015 and then back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018. The West Lincoln wrestling team has won 17 conference championships since 1997 including runs of five and nine years in a row. Ross has also coached six individuals to 2A Individual state championships.
Ross and Navey started the Top Dawg Wrestling Club, a 100% volunteer program, for youth in Lincoln and the surrounding counties in 1997. It was the first wrestling club in our area that focused on the youth. Its mission was to make good wrestlers and great people through the sport of wrestling. Ross is still an active member of the Top Dawg Wrestling Club as well as a committed member of the WLHS athletic department. He volunteers at many athletic functions throughout the year including home JV and varsity football games and through various fundraisers that are imperative to the operation of the athletic department.
Despite all of Ross's accomplishments, perhaps the one most influential is his establishment of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes program/club at WLHS. The vision of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. Ross chartered the FCA at WLHS in the early 1990s, and it has been instrumental in not only allowing WLHS students, but the community as well, to participate in several functions such as Christian Ministries of Lincoln County food drives, Hesed House of Hope meal deliveries and Lincoln County United Way. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at West Lincoln is believed to be the first FCA in Lincoln County Schools.