Thanks For All the Great Days: A Farewell to Coach Horton


Horton stands for the National Anthem before a game recognizing his country. Photo by St. John Photography

Written By Lucy Dempsey and Mary Stewart Hunter

“What a day, what a day!” 

Coach Lee Horton said these upbeat words before each practice for the entirety of his career. His positive tone allowed many Hawk athletes to feel welcome and confident going into their season. 

Horton retired this year after 37 years of service to Charlotte Latin School. Horton coached soccer for most of his life, and Latin benefited greatly from that experience. Horton coached both the boys’ and girls’ soccer programs, and between them he led these teams to 19 state championships and 35 CISAA conference championships. It can be very challenging to coach two different genders, but Horton made it work. Horton said, “I coach the same style and tactics with each, but there is a difference in how I interact and speak with the girls compared to the boys.” 

Horton not only coached soccer but also he taught Upper and Middle School PE, drove the bus routes and team buses and served various committees over the years. He was  a very familiar face around Latin and was often heard across the lunchroom, sharing  his big voice  enthusiastically to generate excitement about that day’s game or the previous day’s game.. Horton’s favorite part about Latin soccer was the game day environment and the amazing student section that creates a great atmosphere for our games. He enjoys getting to see everyone succeed and grow into the greatest players they can be. “My favorite part is the relationships with the players. Watching them grow up to be incredible adults both here at school while I am coaching them and as they go out into the world and make incredible parents and incredible impacts on the world,” Horton said.

Horton gives a pre-game speech before the Cannon game. Photo by St. John Photography

Horton loved to grow his relationships with the players and getting to know them and their styles of play. This year’s captain Brooke Bellavia ‘22 was grateful for the way that Horton challenged her skillbase on the pitch. “Coach Horton always pushes me to be my best and challenges me in the best ways,” Bellavia said. Horton always encouraged new ways players could improve and pushed players to their greatest abilities. Horton’s all time favorite memory at Latin was winning multiple state championships with both of his children, Josh (‘06) and Kristin (‘10), and in 2010 when the girls’ team went undefeated for the second year in a row and were ranked number one in the nation. Horton’s positive and joyful spirit in the soccer community defined his tenure at Latin, and this attitude translated throughout everything he did in his career. Lindsey Boone ‘26  said, “Coach Horton helped me become a better leader; for example, when he had me lead stretches everyday in our soccer unit, that encouraged me to lead my real sports teams at school and in school.” His encouraging personality drives others to do their best and push themselves.  Assistant Athletic Director, Angel Trimble, witnessed many of Horton’s accomplishments throughout her years at Latin. Trimble said, “My favorite memory of Coach Hortin is our interview in October 2019 when he was the subject of my monthly ‘20 Question Tuesday’ feature, which you can read here. Those interviews are great because I get to know colleagues and athletes in a deeper way than is possible during day-to-day interaction. I loved learning about his history and his evolution as a coach.” 

As Horton heads into retirement, future athletes will miss his daily affirmation of “what a day” it will be; they will miss his positive attitude, his encouragement, and his leadership. However, as Trimble Latin will be left with the memory of Horton’s “good heart and his signature laugh, his easy smile.”