ALBEMARLE –– Agnes Maske, a North Carolina high school coaching legend who was the first female black coach at Albemarle High School, died Thursday in Wake Forest. She was 79.
Maske, a staple of Bulldogs athletics in the 1980s and 1990s, left a legacy of success in her time as the school’s track and field coach.
Maske became the women’s track and field coach in 1981 and led her team to back-to-back 1A/2A State Championships in 1986 and 1987. A nine-time Rocky River Conference Coach of the Year, she was inducted into the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 1993, Maske’s women’s cross country team was a regional champion then was regional runner-up the following year. She was named Region Six’s Female Coach of the Year in 1989 and then North Carolina’s Female Coach of the Year in 1994.
“She was known for the way she could connect with her students and for her ability to find ways to help them excel,” the Stanly County History Center posted on its Facebook page about Maske on Friday. “One of the principals at Albemarle High School once said, ‘She showed them so much compassion and love. She was always concerned with their well-being.’”
Maske, who was born in 1940 and grew up in Durham, was a participant in the famous sit-ins at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960. Two years later, she graduated with a degree in business education from North Carolina A&T and soon began working as an educator at Kingville School, a segregated school that had taught Albemarle’s black youth since 1921.
In the late 1960s, Maske began teaching at AHS when the city school system became integrated, though her own education didn’t stop there; she received a master’s degree in education from UNC Charlotte in 1976.
“Even though I met her after I moved here years ago, she always had kind inspirational and motivational words for me,” Brenda Watson, Albemarle High School’s first black cheerleading coach, posted Thursday on Facebook. “When I became the cheerleading coach at AHS, she would text me and leave sweet messages all the time — one of my biggest supporters.”
After retiring from AHS in 1997, Maske worked as the principal of the Stanly County Outreach Charter School for three years. In 2004, she moved with her husband, Johnny, to Wake Forest to be closer to her family.