Lafayette Golden, Executive Secretary of the Florida High School Activities Association from 1936 until his death in 1963, is credited with developing order out of the chaos that was high school athletics in Florida in its early days.
Born July 24, 1893, in Fort Valley, Ga., Golden attended Louisville Academy and graduated from Mercer University with a B.A. degree in 1912. He later received his Master's degree from the University of Florida.
Golden began his career as a teacher at Taylor County High School in Perry. He then served as teacher and/or principal at Alachua, Delray Beach, Fort Meade, Frostproof and Gainesville high schools.
In was in 1936, during his tenure as principal at Gainesville High School, that Golden took on the duties of part-time Executive Secretary of the FHSAA. In June 1946, he was appointed to the position full-time.
Golden quickly developed a reputation as a stickler for the rules. Once he was even held in contempt for ignoring a court order that challenged the rules.
But Golden didn't reject change, especially for the better. Under his leadership:
• The Association changed its name from the Florida High School Athletic Association to the Florida High School Activities Association and added supervision of all interscholastic activities to its responsibilities.
• Schools were first classified by enrollment for the purposes of arranging athletic competitions.
• Game officials began registering with the FHSAA, and a regular program of rules clinics for coaches and officials in all major sports was established.
• Cross country, gymnastics, and golf and tennis for girls were added to the athletic programs; and
• Music, debate and club activities were expanded.
Golden died of a heart attack at his home in Gainesville on March 24, 1963.
Of Golden, Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen wrote:
"Principals about the state swore by him. Coaches feared but respected him. Writers argued with him. To the athletes he supervised he was a name.
"He had a fine laugh, a marvelous command of the language, a talent for debate, and an iron fist.
"He was a builder and because the foundation for the FHSAA he built was so solid, it won't crumble with his death. This is the best tribute that can be paid him, the one he himself might choose."