These individuals were be honored December 17 in Nashville, Tennessee, during the luncheon at the 38th annual National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics conducted jointly by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the NIAAA.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals from within the NIAAA membership, as well as those outside the field of athletic administration, in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics at the local, state and national levels. Nominations are submitted by state athletic director associations, screened by the NIAAA Awards Committee, and selected by the NIAAA Board of Directors.
This years award winners included 10 from within the NIAAA membership, and two from outside the NIAAA who have contributed to interscholastic athletics in other ways.
John Roberts, executive director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association for almost 30 years, and Deana Sessions, administrator for the United Dairymen of Idaho, will be awarded the Distinguished Service Award for their service outside the field of athletic administration.
Marc Payne, CMAA, athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Ashe County High School, has been a teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal at three North Carolina high schools for the past 33 years.
Prior to joining the Ashe County staff in 2002, Payne served 14 years at Beaver Creek High School and 13 years at Watauga High School in Boone. He also was the president of the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference for 11 years and the Northwestern Athletic Conference for three years.
Payne, who received his bachelors degree in history at Emory and Henry College (Virginia) and his masters degree in educational administration at Appalachian State University, has garnered much of his success at the state level.
He has served on the Boards of Directors for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association and the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA), and was president of the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association from 1998 to 2000.
Payne has received numerous awards from the NCHSAA, including the Proclamation of Achievement and the Citation Award in 1993 and the Award of Merit in 1995. Other awards include the NCADA Presidents Award in 2002 and the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 2003.
During Paynes 32-year career as a head varsity boys basketball coach, he has won 468 games and earned 12 coach-of-the-year awards. His teams have won 10 conference championships and four sectional titles. He also is an active member and volunteer within the Ashe County community.