The most successful coach in Florida State history, Leonard Hamilton, is a Gaston College alum. He is the Seminoles’ all-time winningest coach and is the eighth winningest coach in ACC history. He became the Seminoles’ winningest coach as Florida State defeated Pittsburgh on March 7, 2015 and became the eighth all-time winningest coach in ACC history as he guided the Seminoles past Samford on Dec. 19, 2016.
Hamilton attended Gaston College from 1966 to 1968. He was a star player on the College’s basketball team, setting a school record by scoring 54 points in a single game. He went on to play basketball at the University of Tennessee-Martin, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and is a charter member of their athletics Hall of Fame. His Master of Arts degree in physical and health education is from Austin Peay State.
Born in Gastonia, Hamilton played football, basketball and baseball at Gastonia Highland High before enrolling at Gaston College. “I had a wonderful experience at Gaston College with people who cared about the success of their students, especially me,” says Hamilton. “They all gave me tremendous encouragement to do my very best.”
That positive experience at Gaston College gave Hamilton the drive to impress upon student athletes the importance of a good education. With a graduation rate of more than 90 percent for his recruits during his career, he continues to prove that success in the classroom can coincide with success in the game. “Most people evaluate coaches by how many games they’ve won or lost,” he says. “In reality, your contribution to those young men’s lives far exceeds what happens on the court.”
Leonard Hamilton was honored with the inaugural Gaston College Alumnus of Distinction award at the gala celebration of the College’s 50th anniversary. “We are proud to acknowledge Leonard Hamilton’s tremendous achievements as a coach and as an educator,” said Dr. Patricia Skinner, president of Gaston College, on the occasion of his recognition. “It is gratifying to know that his time at Gaston College contributed to his success.”