Morris, WHS athletics director, passes

What I’ll remember about longtime Waynesboro High School athletics director Mel Morris, who passed away Friday night from an apparent heart attack, was seeing him in the stands at WHS football games every Friday night in the 2009 season. did live Internet broadcasts of WHS football in ’09, and Jerry Carter and I traveled the Valley following a Little Giants team that struggled to a 1-9 finish. We broadcast road games from the visiting team stands in large part because of the lack of noise. We’d usually sit a few feet away from Morris, who took over as AD at WHS in 2000 after a long run as the baseball coach at Broadway High School.

After games, we’d talk about the challenges that Morris faced heading up at the athletics department at WHS that were evidenced by the low turnout at football games. The lone win for Waynesboro in the season that we did the play-by-play was a home win over a Rockbridge County team that late in the season was also winless. And yet the RCHS faithful made the hour drive up Interstate 81 in greater numbers than the home team could fill its stands from across town.

Facilities, scheduling and various other behind-the-scenes minutiae dominate an athletic director’s life. As do unusual requests like, Hey, Mel, do you know where I can get my hands on a hat?

I made that one to Morris a couple of years back after scouring the city in advance of the epic regional final boys basketball game between WHS and R.E. Lee. I desperately wanted a purple W hat to wear to the game. Mel gave me two, one for me and one for my wife.

“Just promise me that you’ll wear them,” was all he exacted as payment.

I saw the news that Morris had passed on Facebook on Saturday. I put on that W hat that Morris had given me a couple of years ago and wore it on my errands.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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