Aug 15, 2011
Gary Merrill is the new guy on campus at Northern Durham High School. He doesn't have a desk, a computer or a phone yet, but what he does have are a lot of memories.
Merrill spent 24 successful seasons as a coach for the Knights including 10 years as the head coach. He decided to walk away from the job after the 2004 season following the death of his wife who he met when she was a trainer at the school.
"It was a very hard decision," Merrill said. "I felt like I needed a change at that time. You go out and start thinking about stuff, and it just works out for you."
And that's exactly what happened. Merrill has dabbled in coaching in the years since he left Northern. Last year, the itch to be a high school head coach returned and good timing brought him back to the place he calls home.
"I missed that comraderie between the coaches and the players," said Merrill. "If you've never been in that situation, never been in coaching I don't think you understand that. The job came open in April. Things worked out and I now I'm back."
Merrill is back with some of his former players who are now on the Northern coaching staff and back in the same halls where he met his wife.
"If anybody's been through that and say they don't think about that, then I don't think they're being truthful," said Merrill.
Merrill says he's hoping he can build the program back to what it was before he left. But he says the only thing he knows right now is he's having fun.