HHS Athletic Fields Named to Honor Two Coaches

HHS Athletic Fields Named to Honor Two Coaches
Posted on 09/10/2021
Elder and Craft

Hickory’s Athletic Fields Named to Honor Two Coaches

During a recent meeting of the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education, the naming selection of two athletic facilities at Hickory High received a unanimous vote from board members.

Presented to the Board of Education by Hickory High (HHS) Athletic Boosters President, Roger Young, the naming recognition will honor two coaches who possess a long and dedicated history of service to Hickory High.

While the football stadium remains named as the Frank Barger Stadium, the new football field will be named for Coach David Elder. The HHS baseball field is named for Troy Washam, but the baseball complex will be named for Coach David Craft.

Celebration in Honor of Coach David Elder on October 8

Coach David Elder, a former Hickory High Head Coach for football and women’s basketball at Hickory High, will be recognized during the pre-game celebration on October 8, 2021, during Hickory High’s Homecoming. The HHS Athletic Booster Club invites the public to join the evening celebration to honor Coach David Elder. They will recognize the 25th anniversary of the “1996 State Championship Football Team.”  The Athletic Booster Club hopes that anyone who has been coached and mentored by Coach Elder will join the celebration.

The evening celebration on October 8th includes a pregame BBQ Dinner at 5:15 PM on the practice field adjacent to the tennis courts. The cost is $15/person which includes the BBQ & sides, and a game ticket. Everyone must register for the celebration BBQ meal/ticket no later than MONDAY, OCTBER 4TH.

To register, visit the Hickory High School Athletic Boosters Club online: https://hhsabc.membershiptoolkit.com/packet/18321692

For any questions about the celebration dinner and events, contact: Les Stewart, email:  lshomerun@gmail.com

At 6:40 PM on October 8th, the dedication ceremony and team recognition will take place on the stadium field. Kick-off for the Red Tornado Homecoming is at 7:00 PM against North Iredell.

Coach David Elder

Following a coaching career of more than 35 years including 561 wins and four state championships, Elder was inducted as a member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Hall of Fame.

Elder was selected to serve as the Head Coach of the HHS Tornado football team in 1994 after serving 13 years as an assistant. Elder accumulated 85 victories over the next nine years, the second-most in HHS history behind Coach Frank Barger.

Elder is well-remembered in the community and across the state for his 1996 season at Hickory High—as that team carried a 16-0 season, securing the state championship after defeating Ragsdale High in a 42-0 game. Hickory High held the longest winning streak during the 1996-97 seasons—with 28 straight wins.

“In 1994, with 3 seniors, 9 juniors, 12 sophomores, and 4 freshmen, we essentially played that season with a JV team playing a varsity schedule,” said Elder. “After a 4-7 season that year, we went 10-3 in 1995 and then in 1996 won it all with a 16-0 record, and a State Championship in only 3 years!  Continuing in 1997, we started out the year with a 12-0 record before losing in the state playoffs – but only after setting a school record of 28 wins in a row.

“My wife, Cindy, was always the team mother as I was the team father if any player needed us away from the field or court.  We were there then, and we are here now if they ever need us,” said Elder.  All of the Elder’s adult children are products of Hickory Public Schools. They are the parents of five children including Shane Elder, Jake Sisk, Jessica Elder McDonald, Josh Elder, and Mark Sisk. They also have seven grandchildren.

A 1963 graduate of Taylorsville High, Elder played football for Lenoir-Rhyne College (now University) all four years and he was inducted into LRU’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. A member of the Catawba County Sports Hall Fame, Elder also joined the inaugural class of the Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

“To have the football field at Hickory High named for me is such a high honor,” said Elder. “I give this glory to God. When my family told me about this, I couldn’t talk for grinning and giggling for several minutes and saying over and over, ‘really, is this happening to me…and do I deserve this?’  After it sunk in, I thought back to how it all began as an assistant coach under two men I greatly admire and respect, Frank Barger and Larry Wittenberg,” said Elder.

Coach David Craft

For more than three decades, Coach David Craft, who continues to serve Hickory High School as a history teacher, a coach and the school’s Athletic Director, has led the baseball Tornado teams as Head Coach with an average of 15 wins per year.  Coach Craft also led the student-athletes to 10 conference championships.  

Serving as the HHS Athletic Director since 2013, Craft also served as assistant football coach for HHS from 1990 to 2009.

A 1983 graduate of Hickory High School, Craft is proud to be a product of Hickory Public Schools where he participated in three sports including football, basketball and baseball.

Pursuing a major in Social Studies Education at Wingate College, Craft played baseball as both a catcher and first base on his college team.

In 2016, the NCHSAA awarded Craft with the Charlie Adams Award. Craft is also the recipient of the Conference Coach of the Year and Regional Coach of the Year for baseball.

Married to Judy, the Crafts are the parents of two daughters, Jennifer and Ashley, who both graduated from Hickory High and UNC-Chapel Hill. They are currently enrolled in graduate school.

The Craft Baseball Complex will include a three-lane covered batting and pitching area for the softball and baseball teams, a renovation of the playing surface at Troy Washam Field, and a new netted backstop made possible by many private and business donations.

"I am very humbled and honored by the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education and the HHS Athletic Booster Club for this recognition. This is a team effort and all former team members, coaches, and administrators have helped our baseball and sports program,” said Craft. “We are looking forward to playing on the state-of-the-art Troy Washam Field and training in the new batting cage area. This will really help our program to grow and our athletes are so excited."

A formal opening of the Craft Baseball Complex will be announced in the spring, 2022.

Congratulations to

Coach David Elder

and Coach David Craft!




The new Hickory High football field will be named in honor of Coach David Elder with a pre-game celebration on October 8, 2021.