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December 5, 2023

Ledford Names its Gym After Coach John Ralls '76

John helped Guilford win its first national championship when the Quakers won the NAIA basketball tournament in 1973. Turns out he was just getting started.  

Seven hundred and one wins and four state basketball championships on your resume are more than enough to have a high school gym named after you, which is what they did Monday night to honor former women’s basketball coach John Ralls ’76 at Ledford High in Thomasville, N.C.

But John’s legendary resume had a second page. His men’s golf teams won three state titles as did the women’s golf teams he also coached. His softball teams won three state titles, too. 

Those are just the numbers. Impossible to measure are the lives impacted in the 30 years John taught and coached at Ledford. Before John was honored Monday, Ledford Athletic Director Gabe Scott reminded the crowd about his relationships with the students he coached and their families. 

“He had an impact on many of you here tonight,” Gabe said. “That’s what good coaches and teachers do.”

Friends and family say John is usually never one without a few words to say, but he seemed caught up in the moment Monday night. “This is an honor I never imagined,” he said. “There’s not enough time to mention everyone who helped with what we accomplished.”

Friends, family, former students and players – representing all phases of John’s life – showed up for the christening of John Ralls Gymnasium. 

Two of John’s teammates on Guilford’s 1973 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship team, Robert Kent ’76 and Steve Hankins ’75, were present. 

John was a freshman on that team, which captured the first national title won by Guilford. 

After the ceremony, John (pictured above with Guilford Athletic Director Bill Foti) stood outside the gym bearing his name and the trophy case he helped fill through the years. “It’s a great honor, but even better is to be back around so many people who have been part of my life,” he said. “Just a wonderful experience.”