A couple of weeks back, Hoggard Athletic Director Scott Braswell sat down to chat about a variety of things and while he didn’t hint or say anything about stepping away from a position he’s held since 2008, the sense from that conversation was the end was near.
Monday marked his final day on the job after confirming his decision to step down as head of the Vikings Athletics Department.
“It’s definitely hard to cut your ties with a place that’s been so special to you,” said Braswell. “One of the players came in earlier today and we got to talking and I told him that I’ve been here longer than you’ve been alive. And when he registered that he was like ‘Hey, that’s a long time.’ It’s something that is hard to do, but I’ll still be involved, going to games when I can.
“We were able to get the spring sports squared away for this season with scheduling and all that and thought it was time.”
Braswell will have an everlasting effect on the school’s sports programs, touching countless lives through his days on the sidelines as head football coach, to the passion he showed, while supporting other teams and coaches competing along Shipyard Boulevard.
In 2015, he stepped down after 18 seasons as head football coach due to health concerns stemming from his fight against cancer. He wanted also to focus more on helping other needs within the Hoggard Athletic Department. However, his thirst for the game of football remained evident in his first season since retiring, spending time and helping his former player Craig Underwood find a comfort level as his successor. He even spent a week during practices in August coaching up the offensive line so an assistant could enjoy his wedding and honeymoon.
Braswell helped guide the Vikings to 12 conference championships during his time on the sidelines, along with an undefeated season and state title in 2007, and a number of other accolades. His overall career record: 167-51.
In 2014, while absent from the sidelines as he rehabbed from surgery to remove a rare cancer that had formed in his spine, Hoggard played inspired football. The team road Braswell’s return later that season to an appearance in the 4A East Regional final.
While he’s currently enjoying a clean bill of health and is cancer free, Braswell wanted to take time to re-energize. He noted how reinvigorated he’d felt coming off the two-week Christmas break at the start of this year.
“I jumped into coaching again quick,” Braswell said, “one of those things where I would have probably benefited from time off, but wanted to get back to that team so badly and see Craig get off to a good start with his first year. I wanted to be there and help any way I could. Right around Christmas, the time away I really thought my body benefited from that.
“Coaching is a real strong passion of mine and something I’d like to do again, but I thought now was good time to step back, get my body in shape from a physical therapy standpoint, with proper exercise and time off.”
The longtime leader for whom the football stadium is named will be a presence for many years to come. His former player and current football coach, Craig Underwood, describes the legacy Braswell leaves.
“He’s largely responsible for creating culture at Hoggard and a tradition,” Underwood said. “What I’ve always respected him most for is his overall attention to every detail. He was always on all the little things as much as the winning. He’s been such a great mentor in teaching me how to have that edge, with the same importance of building character and integrity within each individual and the program as a whole.”
Beginning last year, New Hanover County Schools allotted each of the four traditional high schools an extra assistant principal position, with the expectation that when the current athletic directors at these schools left, the AD duties would be assumed by that extra assistant principal.
According to Hoggard Principal Steven Sullivan, Assistant Principal Kristi Tinnes will now assume the responsibilities of Athletic Director moving forward.