Campus celebrates the life of legend


Former athletic director Herbert Appenzeller (center) stands with former Major League Baseball player Tony Womack ‘92 (left) and Guilford College football quarterback and current Associate Professor of Sport Management Calvin Hunter ‘92. Appenzeller joined Womack and Hunter as they were inducted into the 2006-2007 Guilford College Athletics Hall of Fame.//Photo courtesy Guilford Athletics.

A coach, a father, a teacher, a mentor and a friend, Herbert Appenzeller was all of these things. Appenzeller, who worked at Guilford College for 37 years and was affectionately called “Dr. A” by students and players, died on Jan. 5 at the age of 92.

While at Guilford, Appenzeller served as a professor, coach, dean of students and athletics director. During his tenure, he started Guilford’s women’s athletics program, adding six women’s teams and more than doubling the College’s athletics program in size. Appenzeller created Guilford’s sport management major in the 1980s, which was one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the nation.

“He was prolific,” said Sports Information Director Dave Walters, who has worked at Guilford for 21 years. “He was the kind of person who made an impression on people.”

Terri Harris, Appenzeller’s stepdaughter and a partner at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP in Greensboro, agreed about the impressions that Appenzeller made on those in his life.

“I think he made people feel like they were really important, and their future and their plans were really important to him,” said Harris. “It helped students in particular think that they could do big things with his encouragement and connections.”

One of these students is Hunter Yurachek, who graduated from Guilford in 1990. Yurachek is currently the vice chancellor and director of athletics at the University of Arkansas.

“The way he taught really just peaked my interest in this field,” said Yurachek. “He really encouraged me to go back and get my master’s degree in sports administration and pursue a career in college athletics administration.”

Appenzeller influenced Guilford students not only in the classroom, but also on the field. Dave Odom, a retired men’s basketball coach who coached at East Carolina University, the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and the University of South Carolina, is one of Appenzeller’s former students and football players.

“While I was there, our teams weren’t always the best, but we had great character,” said Odom. “We had players who loved each other and the locker room was fun. Games were difficult, but coach Appenzeller himself was clearly the leader. He knew the game, he was a great coach, he was a great teacher.

“Though the games were important and winning and losing was important, your human development (and) your development as a boy … into young adulthood and even beyond was what he really cared about.”

Aside from influencing both students and players, Appenzeller’s impact spread beyond Guilford.

He is a member of eight halls of fame, including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame and the Guilford College Athletics Hall of Fame. Appenzeller was also the editor for the sports law newsletter “From the Gym to the Jury” and the president of Appenzeller & Associates, Inc., a sports law and risk management consulting group.

“Dr. Appenzeller was also just a fountain of information, of historical data,” said Walters, who keeps a copy of one of the 28 books that Appenzeller wrote or edited, “Pride in the Past: Guilford College Athletics 1837-1987,” on his desk. “He was really accomplished in fields of sport management, and more specifically, sports law.”

Last November, several of Appenzeller’s former students and players, including Odom, decided to honor his accomplishments by holding a celebration for him. Approximately 60 of Appenzeller’s former players attended the event.

“(We) gathered at the O.Henry Hotel here in Greensboro, and he came over for two days and just visited with those (who) cared enough about him to come,” said Odom. “The memory that I’ll take with me the rest of my life is seeing him happy with his boys.

“(We) let him know how important he had been in everybody’s life.”

Associate Professor for Sports Studies Calvin Hunter wants to be as important to his students as Appenzeller was to him.

“The countless number of people that were influenced by his teaching, by his personality, by his knowledge and all of those things are certainly pertinent,” said Hunter, who graduated in 1992 and returned to Guilford as an associate professor in 2017.

“That’s kind of what I want to get back into with this program now. I hope that students can take from this and use this to sort of mold where they’re headed in their careers, and I want to be a part of that in terms of how he was with me.

“He was a great beacon of what Guilford is about, like helping others and being a part of great relationships.”