By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
It might be fitting to call Nancy Horton a “jill-of-all-trades.”
With 20 years of coaching experience in cheerleading, volleyball, basketball and softball, the 1967 Holly Pond graduate and former Cullman County Superintendent certainly knows her way around the sports landscape.
Her achievements in sports and education haven’t gone unnoticed, though, as Horton will be among one of the 11 inductees elected into the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Civic Center on April 27.
“It’s a real honor,” Horton said. “I’ve worked with students and my teams for a long time. This wouldn’t be possible without them and their dedication. So the honor really goes to them. They made my career so enjoyable.”
Although Horton never played competitive sports in high school — there were no girls programs at the time — she played a big role in Hanceville’s athletic program throughout her 30-year teaching career.
She coached varsity volleyball for 19 years, varsity cheerleading for 16 and assisted the softball program for 10. She tallied a combined 13 years in junior high cheerleading, basketball and volleyball as well.
“I loved to see students come in, work hard and really improve their skills,” Horton said. “And then to see those improvements lead to their successes, that was what made coaching great.”
The multi-sport coach was highly successful in each of her endeavors, winning multiple county and area championships in in cheerleading, volleyball and softball. She also led cheering teams to a state championship and a national championship in the Can-Am Competition.
“That was a very exciting time with a very dedicated and committed group,” the coach said. “It was awesome to see them work hard and bring honor to our school.”
As superintendent from 2003-2007, Horton attended and presented every championship trophy to every varsity and junior high athletic and academic champion team during her four-year tenure, missing just one time due to a late flight.
“It was very important for me to do that because those championships are a culmination of that season,” she said. “Those players spend hundreds and hundreds of hours practicing, and it was great for me to be able to honor them and the coaches who put in all of their time with students.”
Horton also founded and became the first president of the Cullman County Volleyball Association and said many of the friendships she’s created with coaches in the community continue today.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with many great coaches during my career,” Horton said. “Coach Rosemary Brown at Good Hope stands out at a wonderful example. She’s devoted her life to young people and is enthusiatic, dedicated and a positive influence to her students and many other coaches, including me.”
With her sports career set to be capped off next Saturday, Horton, although thankful for her opportunities, was quick to merit the athletes who made her tenure so special.
“As a coach, I enjoyed watching athletes’ success and the feeling of pride that came with having witnessed their accomplishments on and off the court,” she said. “I hope I was a good, positive influence on my players and that I set a good example for them to follow. I want anyone who plays or played in sports to be able to look back at their team experience and it be a positive feeling for them.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.