In the Corner with Coach Atwood: Ron Mendenhall retires from officiating
The North Carolina wrestling community knows who Ron Mendenhall is. Most may not know his name, but any coach, wrestler, and spectator would immediately recognize who you’re referring to if the words animated, loud, or entertaining were being used to describe the person being discussed.
Ron distinguished himself as an official well known for creating additional excitement with his entertaining officiating animation. Beyond that, however, in the truest essence of what officiating is meant to be, Ron officiated with a no-nonsense fairness for all involved with an officiating consistency second to none.
Ron is a man who has done quite a bit in life. His story is truly remarkable. Most of it involves public service.
Ron attended South Stokes HS and graduated in 1974. He was a three-year member of the wrestling and baseball teams. His wrestling career record was 60-3 qualifying for the state tournament twice. He was sectional champion in 1972 and 1974. In 1973 he was sectional runner-up. In baseball, he was All-Conference his junior year, and during his senior year the team was 3A State Runners-up behind Richmond County. Ron was South Stokes Athlete of the Year his senior year.
After graduating from high school Ron enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated in 1978. In 1983, he received his first Master’s from NC A&T State University. In 1988, he received another Master’s (this one in educational leadership) from NC A&T.
Upon graduating from Carolina, Ron began his teaching career at South Stokes in 1979 teaching Biology. From there, here is a rundown of his teaching and administrative career:
1980- Social Studies at Southeastern Stokes Middle;
1981- 1994 Spanish teacher and Guidance Counselor at Southeastern Stokes Middle;
1994-December 1997 Assistant Principal at Southeastern Stokes Middle School;
January 1998- December 1998 Assistant Principal at North Stokes High School;
January 1999- July 2002 Principal at Sandy Ridge Elementary School;
August 2002- June 2004 Principal at Nancy Reynolds Elementary School;
July 2004- June 2011 Principal at North Stokes High School;
July 2011- January 2016 Superintendent of the Stokes County Schools
Ron served as the wrestling coach at Southeastern Stokes Middle School for 6 years. The team’s record during that time was 100-12.
In 1985, Ron began officiating wrestling and would remain on the mats for 38 years. He would also umpire baseball, but wrestling is the sport he chose to be heavily involved with. Ron officiated 26 individual state championships and 6 state dual finals. He was awarded the Most Outstanding Official Award at the 2022 state tournament for the last year he officiated the state tournament, which was the 2021 state tournament.
Ron currently serves as a Stokes County Commissioner. Was elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020, but he does not plan to run for re-election in 2024. He is also currently serving on the Forsyth Technical Community College Board of Trustees, and he is a past member of the NCHSAA Board of Directors being the only person from Stokes County to have ever served on that Board.
In May 2016, Ron received the Cardinal Award from Governor Pat McCrory. The Cardinal Award is an award named for the state bird of North Carolina and is presented to a person who, during their work at the state level, has supported the mission of both education and education-based athletics.
Ron’s future includes traveling and wrestling event spectating based on his response to my questioning his future plans “My wife and I love to travel. After retiring from the Superintendent's job, we traveled to London, Paris and Honolulu. We will continue to travel, and I will still be going to wrestling matches and tournaments.”
Ron is married to his soulmate Lindy Stevens Mendenhall. The have 5 children; Matt-42; Erica-40; Kyle-37; Jordan and Josh-34.
One resume item missing for Ron is not being a member of the North Carolina Wrestling Hall of Fame. Having served as a devoted official for 38 years, and someone that truly loves the sport, it is a no-brainer to induct Ron into the NCHOF. This needs to happen almost immediately.
I asked Ron for the names of some people to request a quote from regarding his retirement from officiating. These are the names of the people he requested quotes from and their quotes:
Larry Rehrig, former PWOA Official
“Congratulations to Ron Mendenhall on his retirement from an extraordinary career as a wresting official. Ron is one of those wrestling officials who’s love for the sport of wrestling began as a youth participant that eventually grew beyond coaching and excelled at officiating. When I was assigned a multiple match event and I walked into the gym and saw Ron, I knew it was going to be a great day! His knowledge of the sport made him a top notch official and a crowd favorite with his boisterous calls. You could be sight impaired and still know who was calling that match. Ronnie developed a theatrical flair that also made him a fan favorite, but his accurate calls made him one of the best. I was honored to have called several state tournaments with Ron and must say our group was always at their best knowing Ron was on that outside circle as your assistant referee. He wasn’t afraid to call you over for a conference to question a call as to make sure it was “the correct call”. Ron deserves all the accolades aimed his way for his dedication and commitment to the sport of wrestling. He will be truly missed! Congratulations my friend.”
Tony Madren, PWOA Booking Agent
“Ron Mendenhall has a quiet and gentile spirit that exudes confidence coupled with experience in his calls in difficult situations. Much requested by coaches, and a valued mentor to many officials.”
Gary Ollis, PWOA Official
“Ron was always fun to work with and he definitely made it entertaining!”
Demorrise Anderson, PWOA Official
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do." Steve Jobs. If you have ever watched Ron Mendenhall officiate, you know he loves the sport of wrestling. Ron Mendenhall has been an OUTSTANDING mentor to a lot of wrestling officials. P.S. You can’t say anything about Ron Mendenhall without mentioning his big smile. Thank you, Ron Mendenhall, for all you have done for the sport of wrestling.”
Bobby Shriner, Retired Orange HS Head Coach, UNC Wrestling Team Chaplain
“Ron Mendenhall was one of the greatest officials that called matches in the state of North Carolina. He was fair, he was loud, he was animated, he was knowledgeable in the sport of wrestling and he allowed the wrestlers to decide the match. You always knew when he officiated, it was going to be under control, and he was going to officiate the match to the best of his ability with honesty and integrity. A great official! A great man!!”
Ron Bare, Northwest Guilford HS Head Coach
“In my 34 years of coaching high school wrestling in North Carolina I have had the pleasure of having Ron Mendenhall as an official at numerous dual matches, regular season tournaments as well as at regional and state tournaments. Ron has always conducted himself as an ultimate professional on and off the mat. Not only did he have the respect of coaches and wrestlers and fans in the state he would always add that little extra excitement when making the big call which added so much to the sport. I was always glad to see Ron walk in the door at any wrestling event that my team was involved in as an official because I knew at that point that the event was going to be officiated by one of the best in the business.”
Chad Amos, South Stokes HS Head Coach
“Ron is a man who was a tremendous role model and led by example. He made a huge impact on kids he coached as well as being a father figure to many. Would do anything to help kids and he was the master motivator.”
Maurice Atwood, Eastern Guilford HS Head Coach
“Throughout my time coaching wrestling I’ve never been more amused, amazed, and thankful for an official than I have been with Ron Mendenhall. Amused by the animation and enthusiasm for officiating Ron brought to the competition, amazed at how consistent and fair his officiating was, and thankful for having my athletes matches officiated by one of the best to ever grace the mat while officiating for the Piedmont Wrestling Officials Association. A true professional and gentleman his presence on the mat will be sorely missed in the future. Best wishes to someone who gave so much for so long, I salute you Ron Mendenhall! “
Congratulations Ron. Job well done and thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made, and assistance given to others during your outstanding career as a public servant.