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Woody Harrison

Born in Washington, DC, on December 12, 1942, during WWII, he moved to Wilson, NC, to the home of his grandparents in 1952. 

Woody Harrison

North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame

Class of 2023

R. Woody Harrison, Jr.

Born in Washington, DC, on December 12, 1942, during WWII, he moved to Wilson, NC, to the home of his grandparents in 1952.  He joined the Boy Scouts of America and became an Eagle Scout in 1955.  He played football in high school, where his high school in 1958, Fike High, was tied by Winston-Salem Reynolds for a 4-A State Championship.  He graduated from Fike in 1960 and was selected Best All Round by his classmates.


He spent 7 years in Chapel Hill, earning a BA degree in 1964 and a JD from Law School in 1967.  His fraternity soccer team won the All-Campus Soccer Championship in 1966, and he was intramural manager of the year while in Law School.  That Summer, he worked in a restaurant in a hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, where he practiced with the staff soccer team.


In 1967, he passed the NC Bar, married Nancy Rogers from Roxboro, joined the U.S. Navy as an Air Intelligence Officer, and was commissioned an Ensign in January 1968.  Traveling the world while assigned to Fighter Squadron Eleven aboard USS Forestall, he found soccer in Norfolk, VA and Denver, CO. After 2 long cruises, Woody was transferred to Com Nav Air Pac in San Diego as an Intelligence Briefing Officer.  He got out of the Navy as a Lieutenant after having written the Navy’s OP Plan for Operation Homecoming (Navy’s POWs coming home from Vietnam).


After a year practicing law in Wilson, NC, with Narron & Holdford, he was recalled to Active Duty and returned to San Diego to manage the Homecoming Operation for the Navy. After leaving San Diego, he joined the Navy Reserves in Norfolk for 20 years, retiring as a Commander in 1991.  After his active duty, it was back to Wilson in 1972 to practice Real Estate Law for the next 50 years.  That was also the year soccer took over his life.  Using the organizational skills he learned in the Navy, he helped start Wilson Recreational Youth Soccer, Wilson Youth Soccer Assn for travel soccer, Wilson Adult Soccer, and the Eastern NC Soccer League.  Establishing these leagues and teams, he worked with each to set schedules and games and organized referees for each.


In early 1972, Atlantic Christian College and Greenfield School started soccer programs about the same time, and Woody also served as the PA announcer for the high school and college games at Wilson’s Fleming Stadium.  For many of the Wilson programs, he was helped by the late Coach Mike Smith and numerous others.  In 1973, Woody met with 5 others at the apartment of Anson Dorrance in Chapel Hill to merge the Eastern League with the Central League to form the N.C. Soccer League, later to become the N.C. Senior Soccer Association.  He served the state association as Secretary, Registrar, and VP before becoming President from 1984 to 1988.


He was, of course, a player, referee, and assignor during this time and kept a pickup game going every Sunday afternoon for any players, a tradition that continues today, thanks to Dr. Russell Stone.


It was also about this time in the 1980s that Woody took over Boy Scout Troop 6 as Scoutmaster for the next 19 years with more than 150 Eagle Scouts.  As he was getting out of organizing soccer, he started playing soccer in Raleigh for the 040 and 050 Visigoths until his stroke in 2019 at the age of 77.  He also played in several veteran cups with the NoCarVa teams of Coach Willie Nelms in both Virginia Beach and Florida, including the over 70 team in January of 2019.


Locally, in Wilson, he continued to support the youth programs, and for the Brittany Soccer Showcase, he has served as coordinator of officials for several years.


He now has 5 grandchildren playing soccer.  Rogers & Harry Propst played to their extreme in youth programs at NCFC in Raleigh.  Rogers is now in college at ECU.  Harry’s soccer team last year with Coach Cooper Paiva went to regional playoffs in Alabama.  Ridley Harrison (16) plays at Fike HS and is on the Greenville (PGSA) U-19 team.  Both, Loulie and Eloise Harrison are on various teams in Wilson.  Woody’s son, Reggie, is currently coaching girls’ teams at the U-19 and U-10 levels.  His sister, Elizabeth, played on the first Fike teams and played club soccer in Raleigh until an ACL injury slowed her to soccer mom duty.


You can see the whole family has been involved with soccer all their lives; Woody and his son, Reggie, started in 1990, going to 8 World Cups worldwide.


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