Coach Wayne Owens Memorial Gym

Bill Bradshaw

"Imagine how I felt as a young boy around 11 years old, to walk into the Valdese Gym and see Coach Owens. I lost my right arm at two and a half, and getting that boost of inspiration at such an early age changed my thinking from victim to thinking I could accomplish anything I attempted. I went on to play basketball for Coach Owens for a short time. I went on to graduate from Valdese High School, completed courses at CCVTI in Horticulture, became a member of the Valdese Rescue Squad, became a certified SCUBA diver, and retired with 30 years of service for the Department of Health and Human Services as a law enforcement officer. I married, raised a family, and lived in Valdese my whole life. I believe this good life was built on an early foundation inspired by Coach Owens!" -Bill Bradshaw

David Brinkley

David Brinkley, Valdese native, and the Valdese Parks and Recreation Department invite you to help honor long-time coach Wayne Owens. Coach Owens was a tremendous friend, leader, and champion for Valdese youth athletics and the Valdese Community Center from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. As a fitting and well-deserved tribute to Coach Owens, David Brinkley has championed a project to renovate the gymnasium at the Valdese Community Center in Owens' honor.

Jerry Murray

"Wayne coached Little League basketball and adult basketball for many years. He used the same technique with both and was highly successful. Rather than criticizing a player for committing an error, he would positively encourage the player to improve his technique. This worked great with kids because they learned to play positively, and it worked with adults, as well, because adults don't like to be told they are doing something wrong. His bench manner was calm, and there was no screaming and yelling! He exhibited good sportsmanship." - Jerry Murray

Coach, Wayne Owens Memorial Gymnasium 

December 3, 1902 - July 10, 1973

When the Valdese Community Center was opened, Wayne was on staff as Game Room Supervisor and Concessions. This was the beginning of a long and varied coaching career. Wayne coached football, tennis, and basketball, among other sports, for both children and adults. He coached multiple Biddy Basketball North Carolina State Championships teams.

Wayne taught, coached, mentored, and influenced multiple generations of Valdese children.  Known as the “Pied Piper of Valdese,” the renovated gymnasium in the Valdese Community Center is named in his honor. Wayne was posthumously inducted into the Burke County Sports Hall of Fame in May 2023 to recognize his tremendous influence on the Valdese community.

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