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Championship-winning coach Maske dies

The legendary Albemarle High School track and field coach Agnes Maske, who captured back-to-back girl’s track team state championships in the 1980s, died June 18 in Wake Forest. She was 79.

Maske led Albemarle to consecutive 1A/2A State Championships in 1986 and 1987. Her women’s cross country teams were also Regional Champions in 1993 and Regional runners-up in 1994.

During her coaching tenure, Maske was voted Coach of the Year in the Rocky River Conference nine consecutive years. She was also awarded the Female Coach of the Year for Region Six in 1989 and was named Female Coach of the Year for the State of North Carolina in 1994.

She was inducted into the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

But more than anything, she was remembered by many as a second mother to the girls she coached and taught.

“She was like a mother figure,” said Tomeika Moses Morrison, who ran track for Maske beginning her freshman year in 1986.

She said Maske’s death was “heartbreaking” and that she “can’t wrap her mind” around the fact Maske is gone.

Moses was a part of both state championship winning teams.

Brenda Watson, who was the one of the first black cheerleading coaches at the school, along with Danielle Allen, posted on Facebook that Maske “was one of my biggest supporters.”

In an interview with The Stanly News & Press, Watson said Maske “was always positive, she was my inspiration…she was definitely a real queen.”

Carla Ross, who was an assistant track coach with Maske during the late 1980s and early 1990s, said Maske and her husband Johnny were like second parents to her.

“She was a role model to every child that crossed her path,” Ross said.

She said Maske would give someone the shirt off her back if they needed it.

“She was the kindest person.”

Albemarle Councilman Dexter Townsend said she was known as “Momma Maske” and was the “true definition of a community trailblazer” due the impact she had on so many people over the years.

“I recall her sharing stories of advocating for fairness and equality in education during a period of time during desegregation of schools,” Townsend said. “She was the type of educator that demonstrated a strong sense of care and passion for her students as she wanted everyone to put forth their best effort at whatever task and she encouraged those type values to everyone even as we grew older.

The SNAP interviewed Maske in February 2019 for a retrospective about the two state championship teams she coached.

Maske viewed the girls as her daughters, “and they still are,” she said at the time.

Maske grew up in Durham and graduated from Hillside High School in 1957, according to local historian Lewis Bramlett, who recently wrote a book about notable African-Americans of Stanly County, which included information about Maske.

Maske graduated from North Carolina A&T in 1962 with a degree in Business Education. While at the school, she participated in the sit-ins at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro.

After college, Maske became a teacher at Kingville School. She married Johnny Maske in 1963.

She transferred to Albemarle High in the late 1960s as a part of the integration of the city school system.

Maske began coaching track for the school in 1981. She was the first black female head coach at Albemarle. She also coached girl’s basketball.

Maske retired from the school in 1997 and served as principal of Stanly County Outreach Charter School for three years. In 2004, she and her husband moved to Wake Forest to be closer to family.

Even though the girls she coached are now grown with families of their own, they still made a point to keep in touch with Maske.

Around 2009, the girls from the state championship teams surprised Maske at her home for a reunion. When Maske came down the hill to her house, the girls were standing with a banner that read “We love you Mama Maske.”

“That was the first time they had seen me cry,” Maske told the SNAP last year.

Maske described what the reunion meant to her.

“It meant that the love was true and that we still had a bond.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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