Criteria for the award include demonstrating leadership, performance, service and training for the betterment of officiating, possessing officiating abilities emulated by fellow officials, being regarded as a person of integrity and character, and a minimum of 10 years of experience as an active official.
This year's recipients of the Golden Whistle Merit Award include:
Doug Fagan has enjoyed a tremendous career in officiating, serving as an NCHSAA volleyball official for 30 years and a booking agent for 26. As an NCHSAA baseball umpire, he has worked for 37 years and over 1,000 games, including eight state tournament finals. He has also been a high school softball and basketball official, working basketball for 38 years. In addition, he has worked at the collegiate level in volleyball, baseball, and basketball, working over 450 NCAA women's basketball games and over 1,500 baseball games at the NCAA level. He has also been involved with American Legion baseball for 35 years and has worked 12 North Carolina American Legion baseball state championship series.
Cart Howerton has been an NCHSAA football and basketball official for over 50 years and has served as coordinator for the North State Football Officials Association for the past 15 years. A former professional baseball player who was inducted into the Winston-Salem Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, he helped write the National Federation Football Mechanics Manual. A former recipient of an NCHSAA Distinguished Service Award, Howerton is considered a model official: good physical condition, outstanding rules knowledge and a mentor to fellow officials who conducts himself in a truly professional manner.
Don Lucas is a long-time football and basketball official, serving as a North State Officials Association football official for 31 years and a Piedmont Officials Association basketball official for 18 years. As a high school official, he has worked the football playoffs 19 seasons, including two regional finals, and in basketball has worked in the state playoffs 16 consecutive years, including four state championship games. He has also been an outstanding collegiate official in football and basketball, working Southern Conference football from 1978 to 1992 and serving as a basketball official in the Southern, South Atlantic and Carolinas Conferences for a period from 1980 to '94. He is currently the coordinator of football officials for both the Sun Belt and Southern Conferences.
"These three individuals are truly representative of excellence and leadership in officiating," said Mark Dreibelbis, supervisor of officials for the NCHSAA. "We are extremely proud to honor these individuals who have demonstrated sacrifice and commitment."