Former WHS coach Payne leaves Ashe post
by Jesse Campbell
He will continue to serve in the position of athletic director for Ashe County School System.
Ashe County's junior varsity coach, Scott Grubb, will replace Payne as head coach. Grubb has long served as an assistant for Payne.
“Scott (Grubb) is prepared and ready for this opportunity — he is an outstanding coach and he will do a wonderful job as our head basketball coach,” said Payne in a prepared statement.
Payne suffered a heart attack this past spring, forcing him to re-evaluate his future with the program.
“Until this past May, I had never considered that my personal health would ever play a factor in my chosen profession and avocation, but it has,” said Payne. “As much as I love coaching and want to continue to coach, I also want to be able to do what I want to do after coaching.”
During his illustrious tenure as head coach, Payne enjoyed numerous accolades while at the now defunct Beaver Creek High School, Watauga High School, and his last stop, a return trip home to Ashe County High School in 2002.
Payne began his career as coach at BCHS in 1974.
He left the post briefly in 1979 to accept an assistant's position at Coastal Carolina before returning to Beaver Creek in 1980 and continued to lead the program. Then in 1989 he left again, this time to coach at Watauga in Boone.
Payne captured nine conference championships at Beaver Creek, winning 231 games — 64 percent of all games played. Payne also led the Runnin' Beavers to a 1978 3rd place finish in the 2A State Tournament.
Payne also had comparable success at WHS, winning 182 games.
When the county's three high schools consolidated to one in 2000, Payne soon followed. He returned to Ashe County in 2002 to lead the newly formed Huskies.
He led the program to a 2009 appearance in the state's regional and sectional tournaments and three regular season Mountain Valley Conference Championships.
Altogether, Payne accumulated a 574-383 record as head coach.
“My won-loss record will never be as important to me as the players I have coached and the coaches I have mentored,” said Payne.
Payne also earned 17 coach of the year awards and led six teams to a Top-10 ranking in final state polls.
Payne continued by saying, “I have a coaching standard that I have followed throughout my coaching career. I will not enter into this season — or any season without the confidence I can uphold that standard. I have always expected the teams that I have coached to play with passion and toughness, to work to be the best prepared, to never be out hustled, and to never give up.”