Honoring Trace Barnette
School plans dinner to honor Trace Barnette
North Gaston High School plans dinner event to honor Trace Barnette
North Gaston High School will roll out the red carpet this Saturday night (January 28) to celebrate one of its own.
A dinner in honor of Trace Barnette will be held from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. in the school’s cafeteria. Barnette is a 1978 North Gaston graduate who has kept close ties to his alma mater and even served as the school’s track coach for more than 15 years. The meal is being catered by the chef at Cramer Mountain Club, and tickets are $20.00 each. Proceeds go to Barnette and his family, and financial donations are being accepted, too.
Ticket sales have gone well, according to North Gaston coach Chad Milsaps, who is coordinating the dinner celebration and expects more than 100 people for Saturday’s event. Tickets are still being sold, and anyone who wants to attend the dinner can call (704) 674-4477 for ticket information.
According to Milsaps, the North Gaston community is rallying around Barnette as he deals with health issues. The dinner is the result of the school wanting to do something to help Barnette and show how much he means to the people who know him. Many people have shared on social media about Barnette, calling him a “great friend,” “hard-working, honest man,” and “the greatest track coach on earth.”
Barnette says he is looking forward to seeing familiar faces at Saturday’s celebration and appreciates everyone “showing the love” for him. When he first heard that the school planned to host a dinner in his honor, it came as a surprise.
“To know that they want to do this for me, it is a privilege and a blessing,” he said.
Barnette got his start in coaching for Gaston County Schools in 1986 at Bessemer City High School. He said Tony Baker was his mentor at the time and taught him a lot about coaching and how to be influential and successful in the role. He recalls leading one of his Bessemer City track teams all the way to the regional championship.
When he started coaching at North Gaston, Barnette said he inherited a track program that had finished second to last in the conference during the previous season, but that turned around quickly. Even before the team had its first practice under his direction, Barnette set a goal of winning the county track meet – something that he and his athletes accomplished. During his 20-plus years as a track coach, his secret to success has always been motivation.
“He is the best motivator that I have ever met,” said Milsaps. “He is able to motivate students to believe in themselves and do things that they didn’t think they could do.”
This week, Barnette joined Milsaps to meet with students who are interested in participating in track this spring. He shared a message about teamwork that has resonated with his athletes over the years.
“I told the students that it is about one team, one Wildcat, and you have to be able to stand up and take care of the whole group,” said Barnette, who believes in the adage, “There is no I in team.”
“Coach Barnette has been a pillar in the community,” said Milsaps. “He has helped young people for years, and his positive influence has been far-reaching. He really means so much to the school and everyone in our community.”