Many people in Mount Airy and the surrounding communities lost a mentor and friend Friday with the passing of Donald Price.
We’ve written elsewhere about Price’s history — a high school and college athlete who later fell in love with coaching, and really seemed to find his place in the world coaching high school athletes when he came to Mount Airy as an educator and assistant football coach more than 20 years ago.
He’s been an integral part of some long-term success in the Granite Bears football program, serving as an offensive line coach under three different head coaches.
In 2003 he took over as the high school’s athletic director, and since then Mount Airy has been among the most successful small school athletic programs in the state, bringing home 48 state championships in individual and team sports. His leadership and support of the teams wasn’t just limited to the bigger-name sports such as football and basketball — Price wanted to see all the teams do well, and he was successful in that, with tennis, soccer, and other sports seeing increased success and community interest.
While Price was a fierce competitor, anyone who knew him will tell you it wasn’t the idea of wins and losses that drove him most. He wanted the athletes, the young people under his charge, to be successful and be recognized for that success, and to learn skills and characteristics they could carry with them the rest of their lives.
He was a man his friends described as a loyal friend, as a man who worked with kids as a teacher and coach because he loved the kids. Those who were his students or athletes who played for him have praised his ability to not only push them to become better athletes and students, but because he made them feel like family, like he truly cared about them beyond their accomplishments.
Over the years we’ve used this space to pay tribute to local men and women upon their death. Oftentimes those tributes are to individuals who served the community in highly visible ways, as local business or civic leaders, elected government officials, and the like.
And we often say the community was a much better place for having been their home, and a poorer place with their passing.
That is doubly so with the death of Price. He touched hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives over his years in education and coaching, often in one-on-one or small-group settings.
Those former students and athletes still look back on lessons he helped teach them during formative years in their lives, and can directly attribute some of the success they will reach to those lessons.
Price dedicated his life to young people, to teaching and mentoring them, to being tough on them when needed, and to being a friend when they needed that.
We would be hard pressed to think of a higher calling in life. Price will be greatly missed, but his positive influence will live on for many years to come because of that dedication to others.