Britt recalled as ‘cornerstone’ of county athletics

by Corbin Ensminger

May 29, 2014

LAURINBURG — Following his death, Scotland High School’s athletic director is remembered as a standout prep baseball coach, the leader of a successful department, a great friend and a worthy opponent.

Britt, 50, died in a Charlotte hospital early Thursday after suffering complications from brain surgery.

Britt was taken to Scotland Memorial Hospital on May 13, and was later airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was treated for apparent bleeding in the brain. He was initially expected to make a full recovery without surgery but later underwent an operation.

The funeral service will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church. Visitation will follow in the church’s fellowship hall.

Messages expressing shock at Britt’s death flooded social media sites Thursday, as did an outpouring of prayers and support for his family.

“Tommy was a super guy, a great baseball man and smart coach. I always looked forward to playing him because we knew his teams would be fundamentally sound,” said Paul Hodges, who coaches Lumberton Senior High’s baseball team. The two first met in 1990, and worked summer camps together for about seven years.

“The baseball community lost a great model. He was a first class guy in the way he spoke to the kids, the way he met you every time you went to play. We had a great relationship as far as being friends but also being competitors, and then being friends again when the game was over.”

Britt coached Scotland’s baseball team from 1993 to 2012, when he stepped down to focus on the role of athletic director. He led the Fighting Scots baseball team to a state championship in 2006.

Britt’s son, Curt, is a pitcher for the University of South Carolina. He graduated Scotland High School in 2012.

Scotland football coach Richard Bailey called news of Britt’s death “devastating.” Britt was responsible for hiring Bailey to coach the football program in 2012, and also appointed Jamie Coleman to take over the baseball team.

Britt caught the eye of Al Blades, superintendent of athletics with Scotland County Parks and Recreation, when he was on the baseball roster at Richmond Senior High.

“I remember watching him play baseball at Richmond,” Blades said. “He meant so much to the community as the baseball coach for so long and then athletic director. He was a cornerstone of the community when it came to athletics. He will be missed.”

“Coach Tommy Britt, you made Scotland High School and Scotland County a better place all around for moving here and being a teacher to so many,” said Tommy Hatcher, a sideline photographer who first met Britt in 1994, in a post on Facebook. “You will be missed, especially by the young people who will never get to know you. Thanks for everything Coach! God Bless the Britt family on their and our loss.”

Tre Thomas, an outgoing senior at Scotland High who was a running back on this year’s football team, said Britt was a father figure who taught him about sports — and about life.

“There’s more to life than being a great athlete. At the end of the day the goal is to make a difference in someone else’s life. You have to be a role model to the little ones in the community striving to be in your shoes and do what you’re doing in high school,” Thomas said.

Courtney Williams, who graduated from Scotland in 2013 and goes to East Carolina University with Katherine Britt, one of Tommy’s two daughters, said she knows the community will band together in support.

“I want them to know that our community is here and they don’t have to go through this hard time alone. If they want someone to talk to we’re here for you,” Williams said.