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Local schools name new Athletic Directors

Three local high schools named new Athletic Directors ahead of the 2023-24 school year.

Nichole Ashburn — Millennium Charter Academy

Ashburn takes over the position of Athletic Director after former AD Rodney King held the position for seven years.

“We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Coach King, a remarkable individual who has played a pivotal role in establishing MCA’s sports program and conferences,” Millennium Charter said in a statement on social media. “Please join us in acknowledging his contributions and extending our best wishes as he embarks on a new chapter, returning to the classroom and coaching.”

Ashburn has coached volleyball at Millennium Charter for five years. She started by coaching the middle school volleyball team before making the jump to high school.

She also established a Junior Olympic team, is the director of the Carolina Foothills Volleyball Club and has coached travel volleyball for three seasons.

Ashburn will serve as a teaching assistant for Millennium in 2023-24.

“I want to thank Millennium Charter Academy for this opportunity,” Ashburn said. “I’m looking forward to serving this community and helping lead our athletic programs to continued success.”

Stephen Bruner — Surry Central

Bruner takes the helm of AD after Wes Evans, who served as AD for five years, stepped down earlier this year.

“Surry Central High School is thrilled to introduce Mr. Stephen Bruner as our newly appointed Athletic Director,” stated a press release from Surry Central High School. “His overarching mission centers around nurturing student-athletes, fostering their triumphs both in the classroom and on the competitive field. Furthermore, he is resolute in his commitment to cultivating responsible citizens and future leaders of our community.

“With open arms, we extend a warm welcome to Coach Bruner as he embarks on this exciting journey in Eagle Country.”

Bruner is a graduate of Surry Central High School and Appalachian State University. He spent the past four years at South Stokes High where he taught social studies and coached football, baseball and softball.

Bruner will teach social studies at Surry Central and will also serve as an assistant football coach.

“I am excited to be back at Surry Central,” Bruner said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to a place that had a profound impact on my life. I look forward to working with the school and community to develop student-athletes and help them reach their full potential.”

Chad Freeman — East Surry

Freeman was promoted to the Cardinals’ sole Athletic Director after sharing the role with Randy Marion for part of the 2022-23 school year. The position was previously held by Austin Fleming in 2021 and most of 2022 before Fleming took a job at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Freeman and Marion became co-ADs in November 2022, with Marion — who served as the school’s Athletic Director for nine years prior to Fleming’s arrival — holding the position on an interim basis. Freeman then took over the AD position in June of this year.

Freeman is a graduate of Surry Central High School and Appalachian State University. He began teaching and coaching at East Surry in 2001, and remains in the social studies department.

Freeman served as girls golf coach from 2010 to 2022, but will give up the position as he becomes a full-time AD. He will maintain his post as head baseball coach.

“I’ve been blessed to be part of the East Surry community for over 22 years,” Freeman said. “While I will definitely miss coaching my golf girls in the fall, I look forward to the opportunity to support and serve all of our student-athletes, coaches and teams in this new role as Athletic Director.”

A staple of the East Surry baseball program, Freeman served as an assistant to Barry Hall from 2001-2015 before becoming head coach. He holds an overall record of 146-33 and has led the team to six conference championships, four conference tournament championships, one 1A West Regional Championship and one 1A State Runner-up finish.

In addition to golf and baseball, Freeman previously spent four years as an assistant boys soccer coach, one year as cross country coach and one year as JV volleyball coach.



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