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Sports obituary: Bill Haggerty was a fixture at Catawba

The story goes that he was passing through North Carolina. He stopped off at Catawba to visit Moir, and Moir informed him the head coaching job for the struggling women’s basketball program was open. Catawba hadn’t had a winning season in a decade and had just gone 5-18.

Haggerty actually had three life options that week — keep doing what he was doing  in Jefferson Township, accept a potentially lucrative job offer from a sporting goods chain, or coach the Catawba women for a $3,000 stipend — plus room and board.

He’d been making $37,000 per year in New Jersey, good money in 1984, but he took a massive pay cut for the chance to coach at Catawba. In practical terms that decision made no sense, but it’s a decision he made with his heart, not his wallet. Coaching is what he loved doing.

His first Catawba team in 1984-85 had to forfeit two of its three victories and was officially 1-26.

But then Haggerty had a chance to recruit. His second team was 17-15 and won seven conference games. He was conference coach of the year.

“He spent so much of his own money on us girls, so we could eat after games and wear nice gear,” retired teacher and basketball coach Laurie Corriher said via social media. “He never stopped working.”

Things started looking up for the Catawba women. Haggerty was signing talented players. He was placed in charge of Catawba’s summer camps for basketball, tennis and cheerleading. Those camps brought a lot of revenue to the school.

Haggerty got married in the spring of 1986 to Carolyn Capano, becoming a father to her three young children.

Moir lost his key assistant following the 1986-87 season when Tom Bonebrake took the head coaching job at Hickory High. That’s when Moir asked Haggerty to give up the women’s program and assist him with the Catawba men’s team — and the rest is history.

In 1990, Haggerty was appointed as director of athletic facilities at Catawba.  In 1991, he was named assistant athletic director for internal relations.

“In my observations over the years, no one paid more attention to detail and stayed at a task until it was completed like Bill Haggerty,” said Dennis Davidson, who was sports information director and AD during Haggerty’s years at Catawba. “Bill’s track record as a coach and administrator speaks for itself.”

In 2000, cross country head coaching duties for the men’s and women’s teams were added to Haggerty’s plate. He held that post through 2013.

The numbers for the basketball and cross country teams Haggerty was a part of at Catawba are staggering. He coached in 1,100 events.

He recruited/coached 30 1,000-point scorers in men’s and women’s basketball and seven Hall of Famers.

He prided himself on a 96 percent graduation rate for his recruits. His 2010 men’s cross country team produced the highest GPA in Division II.

And even after his coaching days, he helped raise funds for Catawba behind the scenes. He poured his soul into Catawba.

The Haggertys moved from Salisbury to Advance in 2005.

Haggerty was named as the county AD for Davie in 2016. That would be his final post.

Catawba coach Rob Perron acknowledged Haggerty’s passing on social media. “Catawba Basketball has lost a family member,” he said. “We pray for his family, friends and former players.”

Bill Haggerty, Catawba College

• Head coach women’s basketball, 1984-1987

• Assistant men’s basketball coach, 1987-2013

• Director of athletic facilities, 1987-2000

• Head men & women’s cross country coach, 2000-2013

• Director of camps, 1985-2012

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