Curlings takes New Bern reins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

NEW BERN – For more than 15 years Bobby Curlings has roamed the sidelines.

He’s grown accustomed to building winners during stints at SouthWest Edgecombe, Bertie High School and New Bern.

This fall, Curlings will continue to roam the sidelines in New Bern, but he’ll no longer be one of the assistants on a staff full of quality coaches.

This year Curlings will be the man at the helm of the Bears’ football program.

Last Tuesday, Curlings was officially introduced as the successor to Chip Williams, himself a former Bertie High School football coach, who had guided New Bern to a 132-55 record and three state final appearances in 15 years at the helm of the program.

&uot;I wanted to be a head coach at some point,&uot; Curlings said, &uot;but I was happy to come back as an assistant to coach Williams.&uot;

When Williams retired, several of the players and assistant coaches felt it was time for Curlings to take over the Bears’ program and urged him to take the job.

&uot;I want to be here,&uot; Curlings said. &uot;Bertie County will always be home, but this is my second home. I love it here. My family loves it here.&uot;

Curlings said he reached the decision to put him name in the hat because he felt the program had been without a head coach for too long. (Williams retired February 1.)

&uot;As it got late in the process, I put my name in because it was not happening as fast as the kids needed it to,&uot; the coach said.

Curlings, a 1987 graduate of Bertie High School, knows he is taking over a program with high expectations, but he too wants to lead the team to higher heights.

He said he is looking forward to this fall for the same reason he has always looked forward to football season.

&uot;I’m looking forward to it for the same reasons I always have,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m looking forward to working with the kids and watching them excel, watching them grow into young adults. I want to make a positive impact on their lives.&uot;

Curlings has four state title appearances as an assistant and was on the coaching staff at Bertie when the school won its first state football title in 1995. He said he remembers his time in Windsor fondly.

&uot;I loved it,&uot; Curlings said. &uot;I had a ball. It was because of my time at Bertie that I ended up in New Bern.&uot;

Curlings was a ball boy for Williams when the latter served as the Falcons’ skipper in the 1980s. It was Williams who guided the Falcons to their first state title appearance in 1983.

&uot;Bertie County is a special place,&uot; Curlings said. &uot;There are a lot of special people there. Most of my family is still there and a lot of good friends.&uot;

In fact, one of those friends is also beginning his first year as a head coach. Tony Hoggard, a teammate and classmate of Curlings, was named early this year as the new head coach for the Falcons.

&uot;We’ve talked a lot about football over the years and I’m sure we’ll continue to as we both take on new roles,&uot; Curlings said. &uot;Tony is a good friend and I always enjoy talking to him.&uot;

For his part, Hoggard was certain New Bern made a good choice.

&uot;I think he’s going to be a heck of a coach,&uot; Hoggard insisted. &uot;Bobby was a good choice. He’s a hard worker and he’s dedicated.&uot;

Both coaches agreed the contest between Bertie and New Bern would have special implications this year. The Falcons will pay a visit to New Bern on September 1.

&uot;It will have its moments, I’m sure,&uot; Hoggard said. &uot;When it’s over, whatever the outcome, we’re still going to laugh and joke like we always have.&uot;

&uot;I’m sure we’ll talk most every week, but that week I guess we’ll be ugly to each other,&uot; Curlings laughed. &uot;We’re going to battle, but we’ll be back to normal as soon as it’s over.&uot;

Another good friend of Curlings that remains in Windsor is Bertie baseball coach Randy Whitaker.

&uot;First of all, I’m very happy for Bobby,&uot; Whitaker said. &uot;He’s been at it a long time and he’s paid his dues. He was a good choice.&uot;

Both coaches called each other &uot;good friends&uot; and said they still talk on a regular basis.

Curlings officially began his duties last week and will be at the helm when practice starts July 31.

While Curlings and his wife, Nicey, and children Cameron and Trent, live in New Bern, he still has family in Bertie County. They include his parents, Jack and Margaret Curlings and his sister, Carol Atkins.