Spotlight on: Summerville Green Wave
Hometown: Summerville, South Carolina
Group: SC Class 4A
By Ryan Rohde
His name is legendary around the Palmetto state. South Carolina named a day after him in 1977 and Harry Truman was even president when he began his current profession.
One might wonder who might warrant such an impressive resume: perhaps a politician, an actor or humanitarian? Actually, it's Summerville (State PR: 65.88, Rank: 21) head football coach John McKissick.
558 wins, 10 state titles, and 30 regional championships later, McKissick still patrols the sidelines for the Summerville Green Wave. Now embarking in his 57th season at Summerville, McKissick is the winningest football coach at any level.
McKissick’s coaching career actually commenced in Clarkton, North Carolina, where he was hired as the head football coach not knowing it was a 6-man program. In reality, he knew very little about 6-man football, so he read a book about it and soon lead his team to a 7-2 record – all while coaching the boys and girls basketball teams and the baseball squad.
Understandably, he only stayed at Clarkton for one year.
Then in the summer of 1952, McKissick applied for head coaching position at Summerville. The job was open after the Green Wave won two state titles and the previous coach moved up to the college ranks. McKissick won the job over some highly qualified coaching candidates and clearly, the decision paid off, and not just on the football field.
The 82-year-old is known as a father and even grandfather figure around the South Carolina city of around 30,000.
"I think the most important element of coaching is teaching the kids how to be successful; that it takes hard work; that it takes perseverance; to keep trying,” said McKissick in a recent article by Alan Ross of AmericanProfile.com. “In football, you get knocked down a lot; in life, you get knocked down, but you’ve got to get back up."
The Summerville athletic program has honored the long-time coach by naming a college scholarship after him. This scholarship is awarded to the football player who does not receive an athletic scholarship, but exemplifies what John McKissick preaches in the classroom and on the field.
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 players have heard his message during his 56 years of coaching.
"John McKissick is a life-lesson coach," said Billy G. Baker, who has known the Summerville coach for 35 years and is the co-author of two books with McKissick, Called to Coach and Called to Coach II.
What may be even more amazing than his records or accomplishments is that all 3,000 plus athletes that came out for the Green Wave earned a jersey. The living legend has never cut a player that has come out for the team in all of his years of coaching.
And he has kept that mentality since day one.
Perhaps the reason the athletes keep coming out is that he keeps the game as easy as possible.
“The game is so simple - all it is tackling, running and blocking,” said McKissick in a recent NFLHS.com article by David Krider.
And that is exactly what McKissick does these days; he keeps everything simple.
After the Friday night games, he and his wife head straight to their beach house for the weekend, travel back home on Sunday and then starts preparing for the next week’s game. That is the legend’s routine.
If you ask any regional experts or coaches, they too would say that his routine works just fine.
Next up: October 3, 2008 vs. West Ashley (State PR: 53.02, Rank: 30).