April 27, 2016 • Volume 38 • Issue 2 • $1.50
‘BOOM BUS!’ Postmaster: Time sensitive material. Please expedite
Publication mailed from Columbia on Monday, April 25
Muschamp to visit nine locations as part of #SpursUp Tour
2 â€˘ Spurs & Feathers
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Contact Us: 326 Rutland Drive N.W. PO Box 456 Aiken, SC, 29801 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Brian Hand Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/ Advertising Account Executive email@example.com (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 firstname.lastname@example.org Brooks Rogers Advertising Representative (803) 446-4022 email@example.com Reporter Kyle Heck firstname.lastname@example.org Photographers Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth Cover Design Brian Hand (photo by Allen Sharpe) Postal Information: SPURS & FEATHERS (USPS 12779) (ISSN 7454368X) is published 20 times annually. The frequency is monthly in January, April and July. The publication is weekly from September-November. SPURS & FEATHERS also publishes two slick-paper magazine issues â€” one in August and one in December. The annual subscription price is $50 for non Gamecock Club members. Members of the Gamecock Club receive a discounted subscription as a member benefit. Spurs & Feathers is published by Aiken Communications, Inc., 326 Rutland Drive NW, Aiken, SC, 29801-4010. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, SC Postmaster: Send changes to SPURS & FEATHERS, PO Box 456, Aiken, SC, 29802.
April 27, 2016
When to expect Spurs & Feathers in the upcoming year
Thank you so much for your continued support of Spurs & Feathers. Per our contract with the Gamecock Club, below are our edition dates for the 2016 year. Please note the digital magazine delivered via email is an added benefit courtesy of Spurs & Feathers.
dia Days) Aug. 24 magazine (preseason football) Sept. 7 newspaper Sept. 14 newspaper Sept. 21 newspaper Sept. 28 newspaper Oct. 5 newspaper Oct. 12 newspaper Oct. 19 bye week (no newspaper) Oct. 26 newspaper 2016 Spurs & Feathers Nov. 2 newspaper schedule Nov. 9 newspaper Nov. 16 newspaper May 25 digital magazine Nov. 23 newspaper (springs sports) Nov. 30 newspaper June 15 digital magazine Dec. 21 magazine (end of (springs sports) July 27 newspaper (SEC Me- year)
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Spurs & Feathers • 3
April 27, 2016
Important note from Spurs & Feathers - Please read by brian hand Executive Editor
I know me personally as a 35-year-old still loves a hard copy of a publication, but honestly I consume my news daily through I have learned so much over the last three social media and internet. It’s just so simple. years. All of this is why it is our hope that all of One of the main things that I have learned you appreciate the number of ways you can over these past three years is that Spurs & now consume Spurs & Feathers. That was Feathers means so much to so many people. the goal when we first took over with the That’s special. Gamecock Club and we collaborate with I have also learned though that in these them daily to make sure we are all on the changing times much in the same way with same page. traditional media that people are taking in If you want, you can visit SpursandFeathSpurs & Feathers differently. ers.com for our daily coverage. You can also I have been asked many times why we did be one of the almost 17,000 to follow us on the opt-in with the post office last summer, Twitter or the 18,000 who have liked us on and the reasoning is because to the post Facebook. In addition, you can wait until office we are seen as an added benefit that our emails are sent your way once or twice maybe not all would want when giving to a week depending on what is taking place the Gamecock Club. They just wanted to with South Carolina athletics and the Gamemake sure you still wanted the printed piece cock Club. to which you are entitled as a Gamecock If you want to take in Spurs & Feathers the Club member. more traditional way, you can wait until the We were astounded by the number of printed edition comes out 20 times a year. people that responded as it was well over 90 That brings me to the last question I have percent that said they either wanted to just been receiving quite a bit, which is why are receive the digital publication or keep rewe having digital publications sometimes ceiving the printed publication as well as our instead of printed editions? digital offerings. The Gamecock Club also For many of you as noted this is great as just recently sent out an email once again to that is how you want to take in Spurs & add the few who had missed it the first time. Feathers. For others, we totally understand
photo by allen sharpe
that is not what you desire. Our contract with the Gamecock Club calls for us to have printed 20 editions a year, and we will definitely have that every year. For us to remain weekly during football season as requested that requires us to be sporadic at points throughout the rest of the year. To this end, we came up with the idea of the digital magazines, which is a normal publication that is just not printed. If you
count those among our printed editions, we are well over 25 editions. Those digital editions are kind of an added bonus out of contract that we consider a priority to make sure Gamecock Club members receive more. Our schedule for the rest of the year is listed in each edition on page two for your convenience. Thanks for your support of Spurs & Feathers, the Gamecock Club and, most important of all, Gamecock athletics.
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4 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
Gamecocks don’t have to picture Muschamp rolling with ‘Boom Bus’ by brian Hand Executive Editor
It definitely makes an impression. “The ‘Boom Bus’ when you look at it, it’s just awesome, and it’s going to be neat to see it traveling down the highway to our venues and see people’s faces as we travel,” Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland said. “And we’re going to make an entrance with this. No doubt about it. People are going to know who is there, and what it’s all about.” Other institutions have certainly incorporated the idea before, but when talking about how to make this year’s Gamecock Club tour different the idea of the “Boom Bus” was formulated by the South Carolina athletics sports marketing department. “It’s the first time we’ve used a tour bus for our tour,” senior associate athletics director for development and the Gamecock Club Jeff Crane said at the official unveiling of the “Boom Bus” at Williams-Brice Stadium on Tuesday, April 19. “We’re excited. We think it will add a different element. We’ve already seen a lot of interest and excitement as it rode down the highway to get here to Columbia yesterday (Monday, April 18). We’re excited to get the tour kicked off.” The #SpursUp Tour runs April 20-May 24, and the man behind the “Boom Bus” in South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is excited about having the chance to ride in the special bus to the Gamecock Club tour stops. Most importantly though, Muschamp is ready to be out among the Gamecock fans in the Palmetto State over the course of the nine stops on the #SpursUp tour.
Muschamp himself is more than willing to be a part of anything that promotes Gamecock football and Gamecock athletics in general in the right way. “There’s a lot of positive things going on with the program right now, so we’re excited about where we are, but more than anything, where we’re headed,” Muschamp said. “If this creates any more positive momentum for our program, I’m all for it.” Fans are encouraged to keep their eyes open for the Boom Bus as the #SpursUp Tour makes its way to the following cities:
Thursday, April 28 -- Sumter, S.C., USC Sumter Nettles Building Tuesday, May 3 -- Greenwood, S.C., Greenwood American Legion Thursday, May 5 -- Spartanburg, S.C., The Lodge at Lake Bowen Commons Tuesday, May 10 -- Myrtle Beach, S.C., photo by allen sharpe Crown Reef at South Beach Resort Thursday, May 12 -- Florence, S.C., SIMT “To see how welcoming they’ve been to us, Boykin, the CEO of Bespoke Sports & Enter- Conference Center Tuesday, May 17 -- Greenville, S.C., TD I want to be as welcoming to them, and I want tainment. Center our staff to be that as well and be as accesAccording to Crane, for the head coach afWednesday, May 18 -- Aiken, S.C., Houndsible as we can be to them,” Muschamp said. fectionately known as “Coach Boom,” the slake Country Club “That’s very important to me.” “Boom Bus” just seemed to fit. Tuesday, May 24 -- Charleston, S.C., AlThe special motor coach for the “Boom Bus” “With Coach Muschamp, his personality is was loaned to Gamecock athletics by longsuch that he wants to be out there,” Crane said. hambra Hall To purchase tickets and for more information time supporter Reamer King of King Cadillac “He wants to meet our fan base. We thought for any of the above events, please go to thegain Florence, South Carolina. The artwork for this was a great opportunity to implement the wrapping of the bus was provided by anthis. He’s going to be riding the bus. You never mecockclub.com/spursuptour other long-time supporter in Roger Huskey of know where he’ll decide to pull over and stop Fans can go ahead and learn more about purHollywood’s Productions in Gaffney, South as he goes through the state. It just fit his perCarolina. The concept was also shared by sonality and it was a great opportunity that the chasing football season tickets now by visiting itsgreattobeagamecock.com. University of South Carolina graduate Mike folks gave us to make it happen.”
Gamecock Club honors 50-year members at spring game by brian hand Executive Editor
The Gamecock Club every year makes sure to hold an event that honors those that have been members for 50 or more years. The past couple of years the Gamecock Club has held this special and important annual event around a women’s basketball game in February, but this year since there was a change in the football program they thought it would be a nice touch to host these individuals as part of the annual spring game at WilliamsBrice Stadium on Saturday, April 9. “Obviously, everybody is excited about seeing Coach (Will) Muschamp and the new team,” Gamecock Club executive director Pat-
rick McFarland said. Over 150 people were a part of the event held on the first-class 600 level club at WilliamsBrice Stadium. “Luckily, we’re indoors because it’s chilly, so that’s a benefit of this event in itself,” McFarland said. “We’re giving them a great meal. (Athletics director) Coach (Ray) Tanner came by and thanked them for everything they’ve done for Gamecock athletics. It’s really just about providing them a comfortable place to watch the spring game, and thanking them all personally.” A member of the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Gamecock fullback great John Saunders (1957-59) was one of those in attendance for the special festivities.
athletics right now. “The facilities here are second-to-none,” Saunders said. “We’re very proud of it as an old ex-jock. I think they’ve done an outstanding job. I think our athletics director is doing a good job. Ray (Tanner) has really taken over since he’s been in charge.” In addition, Saunders as a former player is photo by brian hand ecstatic about all of the things that Muschamp has done since taking over the reins of Gamecock football. Sitting with numerous other former Game“I’m going to support him every way that cock football greats at the event, the ACC rush- I can,” Saunders said. “I am extremely iming leader in 1958 said “it was quite the honor” pressed with what he’s done, particularly in his to be a part of the day. recruiting, and the other things he has done to get people involved. I’m looking for some good Saunders is overall incredibly pleased with things out of him.” everything taking place with South Carolina
Spurs & Feathers • 5
April 27, 2016
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6 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
Martin on University of South Carolina: ‘It’s a perfect marriage’ by kyle heck Reporter
now. There’s a lot to celebrate, but there’s still so much more to do.” The Gamecocks have steadily improved As South Carolina head men’s basketball under Martin over the past four years and it coach Frank Martin sat down in the media culminated in a historic year this past season. room at Colonial Life Arena on Monday, South Carolina tied a school-record with 25 April 4, to talk about his new contract exten- wins and finished third in the SEC with 11 sion, among other things, there was quite the league wins. crowd. There were the usual media members One of the first things Martin did at his press in attendance, but in the back of the room conference was make sure that his players stood Martin’s players and in the front row sat understood that they were the main reason for his wife, Anya. Also in attendance was athlet- the progress shown over the past four years. ics director Ray Tanner. “I just wanted them to know that I’m exTheir presence was a sign of just how much tremely thankful for their sacrifices,” Martin they care about Martin and wanted to celsaid. “Whether it’s the players or the staff ebrate him being rewarded for his hard work back there that’s allowed me and my family to over the past four years. continue to call Columbia home.” On Friday, April 1, it was officially anWhile there were some that were wondering nounced that Martin would receive a four-year why it took so long to put the extension toextension and pay raise that gether, Martin cleared the air would keep him in Columbia by reiterating that he wanted through the 2022 season. to wait until after the season “I’m ecstatic because I’m was over to talk about it. Tangoing to be given the opporner granted his wish and there tunity to finish the job that we was no more discussion about came here to do,” Martin said. the contract until Martin was All Gamecock basketball ready. “We’re not there yet. We’ve coverage sponsored by done a lot of good from where “You guys see the way I am, Yesterdays we were at to where we’re at I’m an emotional guy,” Mar-
tin said. “I just couldn’t do it. I asked coach if he could just please wait until the end of the season. I never heard a peep from that again.” However, there was never really any question where Martin was going to spend the foreseeable future at. Someone close to him was going to make sure that future was in Columbia. “If for some reason I had picked up the phone and I had told coach Tanner that I had decided to talk to another school or go to another school, I would’ve gotten absolutely assaulted and beat up at my house,” Martin said. “That’s my beautiful wife, Anya. She in no way shape or form would allow me to
leave this community. We as a family love it here and she’s happy, my kids are happy, I’m happy, so it’s a perfect marriage.” With his personal future set, Martin now takes a look at the future of his program. Unfortunately, that future will be without two freshmen from last year as Martin announced on Monday that Eric Cobb and Jamall Gregory, who were both arrested recently for damaging property with a BB gun, are no longer with the team. Those two, along with TeMarcus Blanton, Marcus Stroman and Chris Silva, were all indefinitely suspended. Martin said the future of the latter three, all of whom have not been charged with anything, will be determined at a later date. It’s a tough loss for the Gamecocks, but Martin is still confident that his team can continue to compete for SEC championships and NCAA Tournament berths. South Carolina returns the bulk of its guard play with P.J. Dozier, Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell and currently has a three-member recruiting class incoming for next year. “I can’t tell you how excited I am (with) the direction that this University is going,” Martin said. “Setting records in attendance, records in wins, it’s just unbelievable.”
season in charge of the South Carolina men’s basketball program, and after receiving a four-year extension to the already two years left on his previous deal, he will now be with the Gamecocks through at least the 2021-22 season. That excites Martin tremendously because he knows despite the program accomplishing so many great things this past season, there is still so much more that can be done in the future. “I’m ecstatic because I want to be given the opportunity to finish the job that we came here to do,” Martin said. “We’re not there yet. We’ve done a lot of good. Look at where we were at to where we are at now. There’s a lot to celebrate, but there’s still so
much more to do. We’re not near where we need to be. We’re in a better place in every facet, but we’re still not where we need to be when you put everything together.” Martin knows big things are possible in the upcoming years with the South Carolina men’s basketball program because there is an undeniable commitment from everyone at the University of South Carolina. On his end though, he also knows a lot of work is ahead, and they are definitely not planning on resting on their laurels. “We still have to be a lot more consistent in a lot of the things that we do,” Martin said. “When we learn to do that then those end results will be better than the 25 wins we had this year.”
photo by jenny dilworth
Martin ecstatic for the future of Gamecock men’s basketball by brian hand Executive Editor
(was) ‘tell me what prevents you from doing your job, so I can take that off your plate.’” When reflecting back on his time at South That simple statement told Martin all he Carolina so far, Frank Martin is quick to needed to know. point out a couple of conversations with “I said, ‘wow, that’s pretty strong’ benow athletics director Ray Tanner durcause at the end of the day we’re all trying ing his first year at the helm of Gamecock to do our jobs, and my job is to kind of men’s basketball. facilitate my assistants’ jobs, so they can “I remember one of the first conversaperform better,” Martin said during a press tions I ever had with Coach Tanner, I conference at the Colonial Life Arena on spoke to him as a baseball coach and we Monday, April 4. “That’s what we’ve got commiserated,” Martin recollected. “Six around here. We’ve got unbelievable supmonths later he was an AD and it was no port, clarity and honesty. Things that I longer commiseration, and it was like boss value tremendously in allowing us to do and employee. One of the first things he our jobs.” ever said to me as the athletic director here Martin just recently finished his fourth
April 27, 2016
Spurs & Feathers â€˘ 7
8 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
Stephanie White: Tiffany Mitchell ‘hungry to learn’ by Brian Hand Executive Editor
would love for her career to go the same way as Staley’s. “It’s definitely an uncharacteristic journey There is an extremely unique bond between for a player,” the two-time SEC Player of the South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Year said. “You watch your coach growing up Dawn Staley and Gamecock great Tiffany in your hometown and then you play for her Mitchell. as a player, and now you’re drafted at the same Mitchell’s favorite player growing up was number, it is really cool. Hopefully this keeps Staley, who was then starring for Mitchell’s turning out like her career, and I will be an hometown team at the time of the Charlotte Olympian and everything.” Sting. The first Gamecock under Staley to be seMitchell even had a Staley jersey hanging on lected in the first round of the WNBA Draft, her wall, so it made all the sense in the world Mitchell has the pedigree to be a star in the once it was time to choose a college destination WNBA, and Fever head coach Stephanie White that she would decide to join up with her favor- is thrilled that she was still on the board at No. 9. ite player, who was now working to turn South “We feel very lucky that she was there,” Carolina women’s basketball into one of the White said. “When you look at the guards that best programs in the country. were in the draft, she was certainly one of the Mitchell definitely helped establish Staley’s ones that was on our radar that we weren’t quite Gamecock women’s basketball program as one sure that we were going to be able to get.” of the elite programs in the nation during her White knows in Mitchell she is getting a time at South Carolina. player that is going to give her all on the floor The bond between the two strengthened even offensively and defensively. further on Thursday, April 14, when Mitchell - a “I love her work ethic, I love her toughness, three-time All-America selection - was selected I love her competitiveness and I love what she ninth in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. brings,” White said. “She’s ready-made on the It was lower than most expected for Mitchell defensive end of the floor, and if you’re going as she was projected to go earlier in the draft, to contribute right away in this league - there but it tied her even closer with Staley as she was are very few that can contribute all encompassalso taken No. 9 overall in the 1999 WNBA ing - but on the defensive end of the floor she is Draft. ready. Offensively, she has the skill set to come A Hall of Famer, Staley would go on to be a in and contribute as well, but the adjustment six-time WNBA All-Star. on the defensive end is sometimes the biggest Mitchell said just minutes after being drafted adjustment, and I don’t think it’s going to be on the phone with Spurs & Feathers that she much of an adjustment for her. She’s been in a
NBA Photos/Getty Images
Tiffany Mitchell after being drafted by the Indiana Fever with WNBA president Lisa Borders. defensive-oriented system and she’s played for a coach who understands what it takes. That’s the other thing, she’s been coached and challenged, and that’s important.” Mitchell knows that as a rookie her background will play a big factor in her success on the court in the upcoming WNBA season. “We come from someone that has a defensive mindset in Coach Staley, and she always puts us to be the best defensive player because the offense is going to come,” Mitchell said. “Of course people want to see offense, they want to see scoring, but they can’t score unless you get some stops, so I think that’s the main part is being able to showcase what I can do defensively for the Fever, and then my offense can showcase itself.”
White in addition to her coaching duties with the Fever also serves as an analyst for college basketball games throughout the year, and she notes that there is “no doubt about it” that Mitchell was always a player she thought she would love to bring into the fold. “You look at her over the course of her career and being able to watch her adjust as Dawn Staley and her staff brought in new players, different types of players, to go from being the one to a piece,” White said of the 2016 Academic All-American. “That’s important. I think more than anything, it’s somebody who is hungry to get better, somebody who is hungry to make an impact, somebody that is hungry to learn. Those are all the feelings that we got from Tiffany.”
Gamecocks move forward with renewed focus, determination by kyle Heck Reporter
team can bounce back next year. “Looking at how it ended up, we took that step back,” Staley said. “How we move forThe South Carolina women’s basketball team ward will be on us as a coaching staff and the is coming off of an outstanding season where players to just commit ourselves to when we it continued to set new standards for women’s get to that point again, to not be denied.” basketball at the school. The Gamecocks went The Gamecocks lost five seniors from last 33-2 to set a new record for winning percentyear’s team, including the ninth pick in the age in a season and became just the second 2016 WNBA Draft, Tiffany Mitchell. Jatarie school ever to post a perfect 16-0 record in White also transferred, leaving a lot of availSEC play. able playing time for the players that are reThe Gamecocks added a third-straight regu- turning next season, but there are some good lar-season SEC Championship to go with back- ones in that group. to-back SEC tournament titles as well. Leading the way is A’ja Wilson, the reigning However, the season certainly didn’t end the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player way the Gamecocks wanted of the Year, who will now take when they were upset by evenover as the face of the team tual national runner-up Syrafor Mitchell. Staley has no cuse in the Sweet Sixteen. One worries whatsoever about the year after making the Final transition. Four for the first time, South “Some people were born to Carolina had its sights set on have the spotlight on them and another trip. While that didn’t All Gamecock basketball A’ja is one of them,” Staley come to fruition, head coach said. “She’s had plenty of praccoverage sponsored by Dawn Staley knows that her tice to get ready for it. She’s Yesterdays
put herself in that position and she’ll handle it as naturally as anyone her age. Her parents have done a tremendous job of giving her a foundation of what is good character and she displays it every time you see her.” The Gamecocks also get double-double machine Alaina Coates back as well as two former All-ACC players that are now eligible after sitting out a year because of transfer rules. Kaela Davis, a 6-foot-2 junior guard from Georgia Tech, comes to the Gamecocks after piling up the points for the Yellow Jackets in her two seasons with the team. Davis broke the ACC record for freshman scoring before averaging 19.2 points per game in league games as a sophomore to lead the league in that category. Allisha Gray joins South Carolina after two years playing at North Carolina. The 6-foot guard shot nearly 42 percent from behind the arc as a freshman before averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game as a sophomore to make first-team All-ACC. Both players are former top-10 national recruits and they’ll bring a lot of versatility and experience to the team next year.
“It’s extremely important to have that talent base,” Staley said. “Having spent a year under our belt and understanding how we operate, I think it’s great. But there still will be some transition for them.” Throw in a highly-touted four-member freshmen recruiting class that will also be joining the team and South Carolina appears to be in good shape to fill all the holes. With the Olympics happening this summer, Staley will have a busy time preparing the U.S. Olympic team for the games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, she will also be preparing her Gamecock team for a new season and a longer stay in the postseason, if she has things her way. With a lot of new faces in the fold, everyone will enter the new year with the same opportunity and chances to prove themselves. “Everybody is on equal ground,” Staley said. “Everybody is always on equal ground at the beginning of the season. No matter what position, we give everyone the same information. How they process it and what they do with it will be on them.”
Spurs & Feathers • 9
April 27, 2016
Belk excited to be first female Gamecock Club assistant director by Brian Hand Executive Editor
“I’ve got to meet a lot of people that are obviously passionate about the Gamecocks in a certain way, but I have not been able to conIt’s an incredibly important position that has nect with those that are lifelong Gamecocks been around for quite some time, but Kendall that may not be able to give us a major gift, Belk provides the Gamecock Club with a first but they have been working with us for many as with her promotion she becomes the first years,” Belk said. “In my mind, that’s just as female assistant director of the Gamecock valuable, if not more valuable as a whole.” Club. Belk officially started her new duties on A graduate of the University of South Caro- Monday, April 18, replacing Jay Brown, who lina, Belk takes her new position after spend- left to take the director of business developing the last few years working with athletics ment position at Cornerstone Financial Mandevelopment. agement in Columbia. Belk started working as a student, and she McFarland knows that the relationships has spent the last almost 10 years working in Belk has already built over the years are goathletics at the University of South Carolina ing to be invaluable for the Gamecock Club. in varying capacities. “Kendall, first of all, has a great relationship Gamecock Club executive director Patrick with our Gamecock Club members already, McFarland knows just how valuable her so she is able to step in and we are really not background can be for the Gamecock Club. going to miss a beat with her in that posi“She’s a Gamecock,” McFarland said. tion,” McFarland said. “Jay did a fantastic “She grew up a Gamecock. Her parents are job, but Kendall is going to do just as well. 40-year members. She is able to really relate She is going to be on the road a good bit with to these people that have been donating forour Spurs Up events this spring getting her ever and wear their passion on their sleeve feet wet with that, and also working with our because Kendall does the same thing.” judicial districts throughout the state.” For her part, Belk is excited for the chalMcFarland also knows that her unique perlenge of her new position as she knows as the spective can only help the Gamecock Club first female assistant director of the Gamepresently and in the future. cock Club she brings “kind of a different “She is also going to be real valuable for us perspective.” because obviously we are charged with reten-
photo of belk with tanner by brian hand
tion of our Gamecock Club members and also acquisition, and Kendall has the brain to be able to work with some of those issues and come up with some new ways of possibly doing things,” McFarland said. Overall, Belk is just thrilled for the new op-
portunity. “I grew up a Gamecock,” Belk said. “It’s probably one of the first 10 words I said, I would imagine. I think it’s an exciting opportunity, especially since I am the first female in this role.”
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10 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
South Carolina student-athletes celebrated at State House by brian hand Executive Editor National Student-Athlete Day is celebrated annually on April 6, but this year the University of South Carolina athletics department under the leadership of athletics director Ray Tanner began to think of ways that they could further the day in the state of South Carolina. To this end, on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, student-athletes from 26 South Carolina institutions ranging from junior college to NAIA to NCAA Division I and II were celebrated at the South Carolina State House. A special resolution was introduced in front of the student-athletes in the South Carolina state senate chambers, and afterwards state senator and 1968 University of South Carolina graduate John Courson joined the group for a picture on the steps of the State House. He also talked with the group and thanked them all for everything they do to promote the state. South Carolina senior associate athletics director for external affairs Charles Bloom helped organize the All Gamecock beach event. “When volleyball sponsored by you work in James W. Smith college athReal Estate Co.
nice it was in there. I don’t think every student-athlete has the chance to come in here and meet people in the senate, so I think it was a privilege for us to be here.” One of the unique things about the event was that since it was at the State House there were also numerous elementary school children on the grounds on field trips on the day. Many of the student-athletes took the time to visit with the elementary school children, and even take pictures with them. It was a perfect added bonus to a day that honored those that do so much for their institutions, and did so much to receive their opportunities as college student-athletes. In addition, it gave the young children like those from Pelham Road Elementary School in Greenville, South Carolina a good example of what to strive for in the future. photo by allen sharpe Things like this special interaction, and letics, you are here for the student-athletes, Nelson said. “It’s tremendous that our state the opportunity to connect with studentand being a student-athlete is very special,” senate is taking the time to acknowledge athletes from other universities across the Bloom said. “You learn a lot through comPalmetto State is what stuck out about the them for all they give to this state.” petition as well as in the classroom and in event to Darby, who is the South Carolina The South Carolina athletics department the community. National Student-Athlete Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was represented at the special honoring by Day expounds on these ideals, and this was junior Kaleb Zuidema of the track and field (SAAC) president. a really good way to promote it.” “It was definitely an honor and such a team and senior Litsa Darby of the beach South Carolina director of life skills and great opportunity for us to come out here volleyball team. community outreach Erica Nelson works and see what goes on in the senate, and be “I thought it was pretty cool just for us alongside Gamecock student-athletes daily to be a part of the SAAC and us to be sea part of it,” Darby said. “The other thing and she was thrilled to see them receive this lected to represent the University of South that was really cool was having all of the type of recognition at such a prestigious Carolina from a student-athletic standpoint, South Carolina colleges come together and level. meet people from other schools, and really and just for us to be here for the first year “It’s really special for everything that they and get recognized and come to the State celebrate it as a unit and community. It was do to represent the universities of this state,” House,” Zuidema said. “It was amazing how definitely exciting.”
Gamecock fans show up loud and proud in Charlotte
by brian hand Executive Editor
crease more of a foothold, and it was obvious at the Mellow Mushoom that is more than taking place. On the streets of Charlotte on Wednesday, In fact, all one could see in the Mellow April 13, all you could see was garnet and Mushroom was garnet and black. black mostly, but also some Tar Heel blue. “I see a sea of garnet and I see no Tar Heel For many hours before traditional powers blue,” Charlotte Gamecocks chapter presiSouth Carolina and North Carolina were set dent James Wolf said. “That speaks for itto meet in a top-15 battle at BB&T Ballpark self. Welcome to Charlotte, South Carolina.” in Uptown Charlotte, the two fan bases were In an area with over 8,000 University of interacting with each other on the streets, at South Carolina alumni living indeed it did the ballpark and in local restaurants. feel like Charlotte was an extension of the One North Carolina fan was even heard Palmetto State that South Carolina covets on asking a grouping of Gamecocks what color the night of the game. red they were wearing. “It’s fun to see everybody in here at Mel“It’s garnet,” the Gamecock fan said before low Mushroom,” Gamecock Club executive responding quickly, “what color of blue are director Patrick McFarland said. “Everyyou wearing?” body is jacked up for Gamecock baseball. To celebrate the rare regular-season meet- I’ve met a lot of Gamecock fans from all ing between South Carolina and North over the state and North Carolina who have Carolina, the Charlotte Gamecocks and the come up for the game. It’s obvious that Gamecock Club hosted a happy hour celeverybody loves their Gamecock baseball. ebration at Mellow Mushroom in Uptown. Having so much garnet and black shows The greater Charlotte area is somewhere that people in Charlotte are huge Gamecock that South Carolina is working hard to infans.”
photo by brian hand
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April 27, 2016
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April 27, 2016
Red Bird ramblings: Quirky or not, Reagan embracing closer role by brian hand Executive Editor
“Everybody tells me that I’ve got to do something different,” Reagan said. “I’m wearing my pants up now (above his socks). South Carolina junior left-handed pitcher That’s different. That’s about as quirky as I Josh Reagan never expected it to be a part of get.” his Gamecock career. It may not be quirky to him, but Reagan’s “I don’t think two years ago or last year, I nickname is definitely one that a closer would would have said, I would be the closer behave as he is affectionately known as the Red cause I don’t throw 95, I don’t have a wipeout Bird. slider, so from that aspect it’s different from “Whenever I was first getting my Twitter what I thought,” Reagan said of being the account, I guess it was like my sophomore Gamecocks’ closer. year (of high school), I didn’t want to have That’s the role the Lexington, South Caro- your generic Josh Reagan Twitter account, lina native has for the Gamecocks though as and at the time, I had a red glove,” Reagan of right now, and he is doing a spectacular said of the origin of his beloved nickname. job in that role with 10 saves in 30.2 innings “(Former Lexington High School and now pitched. Gamecock teammate) Colie Bowers was callHe has a 0.88 ERA and a 1-1 record in 19 ing me Red Bird at the time because of my appearances entering South Carolina’s SEC red glove, and that’s what I did and it stuck.” series with Missouri. In picking up his eighth save of the season Overall, Reagan is pleased with where he in No. 6 South Carolina’s 4-2 win over No. 20 is with his stuff in his junior year with the Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, April 5, Reagan Gamecocks. showed that while he may not necessarily be “I’m happy with the way quirky, he is definitely tough. that I’m pitching right now Reagan’s efforts in pitching and the way that I’m throwthe final two innings in the ing the ball,” Reagan said. victory over the Chanticleers The southpaw knows that were particularly impressive closers are generally supdue to factors outside of just posed to be a unique breed, the tough opponent South All Gamecock baseball but he notes he is not all that Carolina was facing. coverage sponsored by quirky. Well, at least not right “He passed a kidney stone DiPrato’s now. last night, and he’s got an-
photo by jenny dilworth
other he’s got to pass and he’s out there pitching for his team,” Holbrook said after the Gamecock win. “That tells you all you need to know about that kid. He’s just a tough, tough nut that wanted the ball in his hands for his teammates even though he was struggling. You win with kids like that, and that certainly was impressive.” Reagan, who has now passed the second
kidney stone, noted there was no pain for him though while he was on the mound. “When I was pitching, I wasn’t in any pain,” Reagan said before practice on Thursday, April 7. “It was obviously in the back of my mind that I’ve got a kidney stone, so it was kind of scary. When I stepped on the mound I flushed it, and I just went out there and pitched.”
Annual ‘Thank Alumni for Giving Day’ a huge success by brian hand Executive Editor Every year during the spring, a special “Thank Alumni for Giving Day,” or TAG for short, is hosted by the Gamecock Club and the My Carolina Alumni Association. It is a unique day in that it allows University of South Carolina students as well as Gamecock student-athletes the chance to sign their name on thank you cards meant for the many alumni donors that donate to South Carolina. This year’s special “Thank Alumni for Giving Day” was held on Thursday, March 31. Throughout the day, the My Carolina Alumni Association had special setups where students could sign the cards at places like the Darla Moore School of Business, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and
other spots across campus. South Carolina students also could come by the beautiful My Carolina Alumni Center to sign the cards. “Our My Carolina student network, which is the largest student organization on campus, is working today to thank our alumni givers for all they do for the University in not only giving of their treasure and donations, but also their time and talent back to their alma mater,” My Carolina Alumni Association director of development Lindsey Griffin said on TAG day. In addition to all of this, on social media, particularly Twitter, a special #CarolinaTAGDay hashtag was created so that students, student-athletes and alumni could connect throughout the course of the day. The Gamecock Club at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center for a couple of hours on the evening of March 31, had student-
athletes drop by to sign the special thank you cards. Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland knows TAG day is an incredibly important day each spring. “It’s a great day because going over to the Dodie we allow our student-athletes the chance to thank the alumni personally by signing a card,” McFarland said. “It’s special because it is interactive between our studentathletes and our donors, which I think is very important because we get to thank our donors that way, and it allows us to talk with our student-athletes about what our donors actually do for them.” Gamecock Club assistant Hayden Lipham helped set up the Gamecock Club’s efforts on TAG day, and just like McFarland, he knows the Gamecock Club and Gamecock athletics
in general could be not be successful without alumni going above and beyond. “Today is a great day because we are able to thank the alumni for all that they do for the Gamecock Club, and for helping our studentathletes achieve their dreams on and off the field,” Lipham said. “It’s awesome to see the student-athletes come here and give thanks to those alumni that do so much for the Gamecocks.” South Carolina men’s basketball standout PJ Dozier was more than willing to give of his time to thank the alumni for all they do for their program, and for all of the South Carolina athletic programs. “Without them, none of this would be possible,” Dozier said. “We give great thanks to the people that donate to us, and we like to show our gratitude as much as possible.”
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PHOTO BY ALLEN SHARPE
After childhood in the Upstate, Tom Young Sr. glad to be a Gamecock BY KYLE HECK Reporter
Young Sr. was honored for his dedication to No offense to the other AD’s we’ve had. All good idea to do what the University did, hire the Gamecock Club this past football season of them were very good at what they did. I Ray. He understands the system and he underwhen he was a Legendary Fan for the annual think at this point in time it was probably a stands what we need.” Raised in the small town of Ware Shoals, Clemson-South Carolina rivalry game. While which is about 45 miles away from Clemson, it was already a moment he would never forTom Young Sr. grew up as a Tigers fan. He get, it was even more special due to the fact just couldn’t help it being so close to the Uni- that his family was down on the field with versity and growing up around it. him, some of whom happen to be Clemson After going to Anderson College for two fans. years, Young Sr. was planning on attending “I was able to have my picture made with Clemson. However, as fate would have it, cal- both of my grandsons, who are Clemson fans, culus would be the reason that he would soon and both my granddaughters, who are big switch allegiances and become a Gamecock USC fans, on the field,” Young Sr. said. “It fan. was a great moment, it really was. It’s some“The reason I went to the University of thing I’ll always cherish being able to do that, South Carolina was because I could major in especially on that game.” business marketing and if I went to Clemson While he was obviously pleased to be honI had to major in industrial management and ored in a big way, Young Sr. was also humwould have to take calculus and I wasn’t gobled by the experience. As a former Chairman ing to take calculus,” Young Sr. said. “That’s of the Board of Trustees at South Carolina, how I selected to come to the University of he’s met a lot of great people along the way. South Carolina and when I got there, I defi“There’s a lot of people that are worthy of nitely became a fan and have been since.” that,” Young Sr. said of the honor. “That was Fast forward to the present and Young Sr. just very humble. Very honored to get it, but has been a member of the Gamecock Club a lot of people have done a lot for me over the Voted Best Brunch three times by for over 40 years and loves supporting his years when I was chairman of the board.” Free Times, Columbia Metropolitan, University. He quickly fell in love with South As a longtime Gamecock fan, Young Sr. is and The State Newspaper! Carolina after enrolling and it had a lot to do HOME OR AWAY excited about where the University of South with the atmosphere at sporting events that Carolina is going. With both of the basketball Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 2 pm! are second-to-none. teams continuing to rise and a new era of “I guess the atmosphere was always good at football about to begin, there is a lot to look Pick up our Famous Pimento Cheese and other Gourmet items, Williams-Brice,” Young Sr. said. “Even when forward to. it was (Carolina Stadium) back then because it “The future looks very bright,” Young Sr. or order from our Catering Menu to take home! was 1965. There was just a lot of excitement. said. “I think we’re fortunate to have Ray Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10am-6pm • Sun. 10am-4pm The games were good. I just got involved in Tanner as Athletic Director. I think Ray is Brunch Served: Sat. and Sun. 10am-2pm the school and once you do that, it makes a big going to do a great job. He understands what difference.” it means to be a coach, what a coach needs. AS34-1266227 342 Pickens Street, Columbia • 803.779.0606 • www.dipratos.com
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April 27, 2016
Jordan Gardner made Spurs & Feathers better by brian hand Executive Editor I was really looking forward to catching up. I had seen him the week before at a Gamecock football open practice, and we decided to go to lunch one day the next week. Unfortunately that lunch will never happen. Jordan Gardner has left this earth, but he will definitely never be forgotten by all of those involved with the Gamecock Club and well beyond. It is probably the former athlete in me, but I have never lacked for confidence for the most part. I am very unassuming, humble and generally just try to outwork people, but when it comes to doing my job, I am extremely confident that I can make it happen. Or I will figure out a way. That’s just me. For the first time publicly, I’ll be honest though about this one - when I took the job as executive editor of Spurs & Feathers, I was just flat out scared. Was I good enough? Is this the right move for my family? I was confident once again, but I was scared because I had grown up a Gamecock, and I did not want to mess up something I had valued like Spurs & Feathers.
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I told him before casually, but unfortunately now Jordan will never know just how much he helped me through that. It’s not something we would have talked about as our friendship was built around making each other laugh, but for someone like me who always values laughter and be-
All had a personal touch, but Jordan’s was just different. Since he was our liaison in title during his time with the Gamecock Club, I worked with him daily to make sure we were all on the same page. He would keep me aware of things, and I would make him aware of things as well. From day one, it was a friendship more than a working relationship. We would always laugh around the important questions, but always Jordan made my day better. Instantly. That’s where he helped me the most. With Jordan’s constant upbeat approach he would always make me feel like we were doing something valuable with Spurs & Feathers. One of the things I have learned over the last three years is that everybody kind of has a different opinion of what they value most in Spurs & Feathers, but we along with the Gamecock Club have worked hard to place it at the level it is today as far as what all parties wanted when we took over. Jordan was a huge part of that in my opinion. ing sarcastic that was what I needed. I am forever thankful that I had the opporFrom the moment we took over Spurs & tunity to know Jordan Gardner. Feathers, Jordan along with particularly They say that you don’t always know what executive director Patrick McFarland and you have until it is gone. Well, I knew what former assistant director of the Gamecock Club Jay Brown would always check on us to we had in Jordan, and I hate that he is gone. Rest in peace, my friend. make sure we had everything we needed.
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16 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
Muschamp focused on year one, not longterm goals by Brian Hand Executive Editor
have a tough schedule to start the year, but he also knows they cannot change that. “It is what it is,” Muschamp said. “I told Will Muschamp is only thinking about year our guys, we’ve got to get comfortable beone. ing uncomfortable. We’re going to play on “I don’t look at longterm goals,” Muschamp the road on Thursday night (at Vanderbilt said at the first #SpursUp Tour stop at The on Sept. 1). We’ve got to go to Starkville (on Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium on Wednes- Saturday, Sept. 10) after that, and then we get day, April 20. “I’m looking at this 2016 team a great home game against East Carolina (on football season, trying to win the East and get Saturday, Sept. 17) and then Lexington (for to Atlanta. That’s going to be our goal every Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 17).” year I’m here because that’s realistic and Muschamp says he completely embraces that’s where we are.” the challenging start, but he is only focused In his first year as the head football coach at on one game right now. the University of South Carolina, Muschamp “Vanderbilt,” Muschamp said when asked knows that most probably do not expect the about what games excited him on the 2016 Gamecocks to be in the discussion for winGamecock football schedule. “Because that’s ning the SEC East. the first one.” Muschamp is not one of those people. Once again though, for Muschamp the goal “We’ve got good enough players here to will always be to compete for the East title. win the East,” Muschamp said. “We need to “That’s our goal here,” Muschamp said. stay healthy, that’s No. 1.” “That’s going to be our goal here year one to Muschamp also knows that the Gamecocks year 10.”
photo by allen sharpe
Gamecocks up the tempo during the spring by KYLE HECK Reporter
If you were able to watch the South Carolina football team in the two open practices or the Garnet and Black spring game, there was immediately a noticeable difference under new head coach Will Muschamp. There won’t be much of a break in between plays on offense. Muschamp, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and the rest of the staff has made it clear they want to run an uptempo offense, and it’s evident that’s been one of the biggest focuses of the spring. If it looked like the Gamecocks were playing fast this spring, that will be nothing compared to the product you see in the fall. With only 15 practices in the spring combined with the fact that it was the first time Muschamp had any on-field interaction with his players, there was a lot being thrown at the team and not a whole lot of time to digest everything. It’s going to take a lot longer than 15 practices to properly oil the machine, so to speak, with Muschamp saying after the final scrimmage before the spring game, “we need to become a faster football team.” “It’s day-by-day, but you’re talking about new terminology,” Muschamp said. “This is the process you have to go through. A critical time for our football team is going to be when the spring game is over. There’s an amount of improvement you can make during that time when coaches are not al-
photo by allen sharpe
lowed to be around you. We have to make tremendous strides during that time.” It’s now reached that critical stretch Muschamp spoke of and summer and fall workouts will be instrumental in seeing how much the Gamecocks can improve over the next few months. However, Gamecock fans were able to get a good glimpse of what’s to come this spring under Roper, who piloted a big transformation in his only season at Florida with Muschamp in 2014. The year prior to that, the Gators averaged just 18.8 points per game on offense. When Roper took over the next season, that number made a significant jump to 30.2 points per game. Last season, the Gamecocks averaged 21.9 points per game on offense. While we don’t know if there will be another significant jump, Roper’s track record suggests that there will at least be some improvement. The Garnet and Black spring game this year perhaps provided a glimpse of that as there were a combined 49 points scored and four touchdown passes one season after South Carolina had just 27 points and two touchdown passes in the spring game. “We’re going to play in space (and) we’re going to play with tempo, but we don’t want to lose a physical mentality,” Roper said when introduced in January. The product is far from finished, but the Gamecocks still have plenty of time to get even faster before Muschamp’s inaugural season gets underway.
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#SpursUp Tour starts strongly in the Midlands by Brian Hand Executive Editor South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp knows any success his football team has on and off the field cannot happen without the support of the Gamecock Club. “We can’t do it without you,” Muschamp said at the first stop of the #SpursUp Tour at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium on Wednesday, April 20. The first of nine #SpursUp Tour stops, the Midlands event at The Zone at WilliamsBrice Stadium was completely sold out. That the first of the spring meetings featured such a large grouping was not lost on South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner. “It’s very special for us,” Tanner said. “This is not a situation that we ever take for granted with our boosters, alumni and fan support.” In fact, with the event sold out for some time, Tanner noted to Spurs & Feathers that he personally even received numerous calls
from individuals hoping to still get into the first of the #SpursUp Tour stops. “We’re very appreciative,” Tanner said. “We appreciate the great support that we get from these great Gamecocks.” The special evening commenced with Gamecock fans arriving in large numbers to take their picture with the “Boom Bus.” Muschamp then signed autographs for all in attendance. While Muschamp was signing autographs, those at the Midlands #SpursUp Tour stop had the chance to also have a great meal catered by national collegiate tailgating championship-winning Ultimate Tailgaters BBQ. Also in attendance on the evening were former Gamecock football standouts Langston Moore and Preston Thorne, who were there interacting with fans and selling copies of their phenomenal children’s book #JustaChicken. Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland could not have been more pleased
photo by brian hand
with how the whole evening turned out. “For it to be sold out is awesome,” McFarland said. “You can sense the excitement here. People are excited to meet coach Muschamp. He’s taking pictures, signing autographs and people just seem to be having a good time, and they are already ready for football in the month of April.”
Current Gamecock football voice and South Carolina quarterback great Todd Ellis served as emcee for the evening, and he echoed McFarland’s thoughts perfectly when talking with the crowd. “What a great time to be a Gamecock,” Ellis said. After Tanner spoke to the crowd, South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley also made a special appearance to show her appreciation for all that those in the Gamecock Club do for South Carolina athletics. “I just want to thank you guys for the support you’ve given not only the women’s basketball team, but all the teams that represent the University of South Carolina,” Staley said. Muschamp closed out the evening by giving a breakdown of his football program. He also took questions from the crowd. He left the podium as all would expect. “Spurs Up,” Muschamp said as exiting.
Greenville Gamecocks hold gathering before game at Fluor Field by kyle heck Reporter It’s not too often that the Gamecocks in Greenville get a chance to see any of the South Carolina athletic teams right in their backyard, but one of those opportunities came on Wednesday, April 20. The Gamecock baseball team made the trip to Fluor Field to take on Furman and the South Carolina fans in the area converged at Mac’s Speed Shop, right across the street from the field. The Greenville Gamecocks teamed up with the My Carolina Alumni Association to put on a great pre-game gathering for the fans in the area as well as the ones making the trip to Greenville from all over the state. “It’s really great because Greenville is a great host for the baseball game,” Greenville Gamecocks president Bryan Haskins said. “Also having all these establishments close by downtown, we can have a great alumni party and get friends and family out and really enjoy some time together in anticipation of a Gamecock win.” The fans more than took advantage of the opportunity and most of the tables outside and inside the restaurant were filled with Gamecock fans conversing and waiting on the game. There are only a few times a year that fans are able to watch South Carolina play in a professional stadium and there aren’t many better than Fluor Field, the home of the Greenville Drive. Haskins said Greenville regularly holds watch parties and other events for Gamecock
photo by kyle heck
fans in the area and definitely want to showcase the Garnet and Black as much as possible in the Upstate. “We’ve had some pretty good turnouts so far,” Haskins said. The My Carolina Alumni Association wants to reach as many fans and alumni as
possible, and that means reaching out as much as possible to areas throughout the state and beyond. My Carolina provided free gifts and food to the fans at Mac’s Speed Shop to try and make their pre-game experience even better. “This is wonderful,” said Sarah Sipes, the
My Carolina Alumni Association director of regional alumni engagement. “We love our Greenville alumni and we want to make sure that they feel special and connected back to the campus and University and this is just a great time to be able to do it. We’re happy to host them.”
18 • Spurs & Feathers
Luis, an undersized forward during his pro days, taught him post All Gamecock basketball technique coverage sponsored by how to fight Yesterdays for position, how to create angles, how to finish over taller defenders. One piece of advice stayed with him, tapping the nerve of his only child. Relentless: Michael Carrera and the know that dude’s standing right next to me, and “That ball is your mother,” Luis told his son. makings of a legendary intensity I’m ready to go,” Martin said. Coming from “Don’t let anyone grab your mother.” a former bouncer, it was the ultimate compliCarrera’s rawness slowly became more He couldn’t ment. refined. He rose through Venezuela’s youth bear to look back. Passion. Intensity. Those qualities seem in- system, growing to 6’5” and making the counIf he did, nate, don’t they? Players either have them or try’s U-16 national team that played in a FIBA Michael Carrera they don’t. Professional scouts check the boxes Americas Tournament in Argentina in June would see his or they don’t when filling out their reports. of 2009. In a game against the United States, parents crying, Or does intensity have an origin? Can it be which featured future NBA players Andre and the watertraced back to something – a moment, an exDrummond, Bradley Beal and James Michael works would start perience, a long-ago piece of advice? Perhaps McAdoo, Carrera scored 21 points and grabbed flowing from him Carrera always had those qualities in him, but 17 rebounds. again, too. He it took certain events, certain flashpoints along Late in the game, Carrera took a spot at the may have even the way to ignite them. lane line near Justin Anderson, a future Allturned around, Because the truth is, basketball wasn’t CarACC guard at Virginia and first-round pick of too overcome rera’s first love. He favored soccer and baseball the Dallas Mavericks. with emotion growing up in Barcelona, a city of 620,000 on You need to come play in the U.S., Anderson to complete the the northern coast of Venezuela. Basketball told him. walk to his gate. hardly captured his imagination. Yet every His blank expression may have thrown AnHis flight was Andy Demetra time he begged his Dad, Luis, to buy him more derson off - Carrera didn’t speak any English. waiting, though, Contributing baseball equipment, his Dad kept sandbagging The idea took root, though. It also happened and so was his Writer him. that Anderson attended Montrose Christian basketball future Carrera thinks he did it on purpose, to steer School, a prep powerhouse in Rockville, Md., in the United him into the family business. For nearly two that not only boasted Kevin Durant as an alum, States. He didn’t speak any English, but he decades, Luis Carrera played in the Liga Profe- but arguably Venezuela’s most high-profile knew the opportunity that lay ahead of him. He sional de Basquetbol, Venezuela’s top-division basketball export, Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez took a deep breath and moved forward. basketball league, as a hardworking role player attended Montrose Christian before playing at Seven years later, Michael Carrera boarded for Los Marinos de Anzoátegui. His frontcourt the University of Maryland, where he left as the another plane, this one for the Portsmouth Invi- mate was once NBA Sixth Man of the Year school’s second all-time leading scorer. He just tational in Virginia, a showcase for the nation’s Anthony Mason. finished his sixth season in the NBA. top senior college basketball players. The 6’5,” Luis’ career ended when Michael was young Word got back to Vasquez about the promis214-pound forward earned the trip following a – he doesn’t have any recollections of watching ing vinotinto who was looking to further his season in which he averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 him play - but by age 12 he finally embraced the career in the States. He and some Venezuelan rebounds for the 25-9 Gamecocks. The player game. As the son of a longtime pro, he figured hoops contacts reached out to Stu Vetter, MonFrank Martin once called a “negative-star to have some ability. He also inherited some trose’s venerable head coach who won three recruit” was named 1st Team All-SEC, the first- athleticism from his mother, Katherine Gamnational titles during a 38-year high school ever USC forward to earn such an honor. boa, a volleyball player in high school. And coaching career. Vetter trusted Vasquez’s recHis career will be remembered as much for yet… ommendation. Two months after his breakout its style as its statistics. For four years, Carrera “I was terrible,” Carrera says, shaking his performance in the FIBA Americas Tournacharmed Gamecock fans with his passion and head. ment, Carrera boarded a plane for Maryland. hair-on-fire intensity. He fought for rebounds, It’s a time-worn cliché, one spouted by For several weeks he stayed with Vasquez, dove for loose balls and took charges with aban- hundreds of athletes who want to play up their who was about to enter his senior season at don. He punctuated big plays with fist-pumps humble beginnings. But Carrera insists. He Maryland, to get acclimated to American culand waves to the crowd, his marble eyes blazcouldn’t shoot, couldn’t pass, couldn’t dribble. ture. He accelerated his English by using Roing. That energy could be infectious to fans The older players at his local club mocked him: setta Stone. He cried often in phone calls to his and aggressively irritating to opponents. He the son of a pro who couldn’t play. parents – a young kid, all by himself, adapting had a kinetic, charismatic flair about him, not The embarrassment stung, but it also fueled to a new language and customs. unlike the characters from the Japanese anime him. In those early scrimmages, Carrera realCarrera played three seasons for Montrose, cartoons he watches before going to bed (it’d be ized the only way he could stay on the floor was a 6’5” center forbidden from straying out to inaccurate to say Carrera plays like someone by hustling. He scrapped for loose balls and the three-point line. On a team loaded with wired on caffeine – he doesn’t drink caffeinated rebounded relentlessly. He chased the tough, Division I prospects, he became Montrose’s beverages). blue-collar plays that earned the grudging rerebounder-in-residence, using his giant hands “If I go across the street, and I got to fight spect of his teammates. It was all he could do and seven-foot wingspan to grab every ball 100 dudes, I’m not looking over my shoulder. I until his skills caught up. in sight. Vetter called him one of the best re-
April 27, 2016
bounders he’s ever coached. In a way, rebounding became an extension of his environment: all by himself, sacrificing, with no one responsible for his success but him. That ball is your mother… High-major college programs were intrigued, but wary of his “tweener” size. Frank Martin saw differently. He had just been named South Carolina’s head coach in March of 2012, and needed to stitch together his first signing class. He loved Carrera’s competitiveness, figuring it could be a building block for his program. He noticed Carrera’s soft hands, figuring that with hard work, a soft shooting touch would follow. And of course, he was smitten by his rebounding; his teams at Kansas State regularly ranked among the best offensive rebounding teams by percentage in the country. Martin made his pitch over the phone in Spanish. Carrera was in. Gamecock fans saw the transformation: from an undersized, unbridled freshman center to a smooth, refined small forward who averaged 40% from three-point range as a senior. His game added more layers, but never lost its hustle and flair. In three games at the Portsmouth Invitational, Carrera was the only player among the 64 invited who finished in the top ten in scoring (15.3 ppg), rebounding (8.0 rpg) and three-point shooting (52.9%). A professional future isn’t far away - if not a selection in the NBA Draft, then certainly overseas. His energy and intensity - the trademarks that made him so beloved at USC - will be along for the ride. Like at that airport seven years ago, Michael Carrera won’t be looking back.
photo by jenny dilworth
Spurs & Feathers • 19
April 27, 2016
photo on right by allen sharpe
Jay Brown has left a mark on Gamecock athletics athletes will become.” During his time on the Gamecock Club staff, Brown was pivotal in numerous ways, It’s not often that a former student-athlete but he particularly was intricately involved has the chance to personally thank those that with the commemorative brick program that made their athletic scholarship possible. was part of Springs Brooks Plaza at WilliamsBut that’s exactly what former Gamecock Brice Stadium. baseball student-athlete Jay Brown has had “The bricks will be something that I will over the last few years as the assistant director remember for a long time,” Brown joked. “I’ll of the Gamecock Club. A member of South never look at a brick the same way.” Carolina’s national championship-winning Brown may not in his own words have been baseball team in 2010, Brown has relished his the “mastermind” behind the brick program, time with the Gamecock Club, which ended but he was the one that made the project poswith the South Carolina football spring game sible daily. on Saturday, April 9. “That was all Jay Brown,” McFarland said. “As a student-athlete you sometimes take “He’s literally left a mark on Gamecock athfor granted where your scholarship money letics.” is coming from,” Brown said. “Not a whole In addition to his work with the brick prolot of athletes get the opportunity to take adgram, Brown also worked hand-in-hand with vantage of that as a student-athlete and then the USC Association of Lettermen, offering to come back around and to be able to thank them assistance and helping the group grow those same people that helped you with your over the last few years. scholarship, it’s been really cool to be able to Senior associate athletics director for dedo that over the last couple of years, and it was velopment and Gamecock Club Jeff Crane really special.” knows that while Brown may be departing, Gamecock Club executive director Patrick his involvement will definitely continue. McFarland knows that all of Brown’s experi“Jay’s leadership style, work ethic and ences as a student-athlete at South Carolina genuine approach to building relationships made him a unique member of their staff. made a significant impact on our program,” “I think that’s one reason why people apCrane said. “We will certainly miss having preciated Jay Brown,” McFarland said. “He him as part of our team, but we are excited to would go out and talk to our groups and continue his involvement as a former letter Gamecock Club members.” winner.” In fact, McFarland took it McFarland knows Brown’s even one step further about impact with the Gamecock what made Brown so special. Club will resonate for a long “We talk about it all the time time. that we (Gamecock Club) have “Truly he’s done a great been supporting student-athjob at everything that he’s All Gamecock baseball letes since 1940,” McFarland attempted,” McFarland said. coverage sponsored by said. “He is the epitome of “He formed relationships DiPrato’s what you hope your studentquickly with our donors, and
no matter what giving level they were, he was able to relate to them. I think he has created many relationships that are going to last past his tenure here.” Brown’s new position will be as the director of business development at Cornerstone Financial Management in Columbia, so he is definitely planning to “still be around and be
at games with my family.” Brown obviously has mixed emotions as he departs, but he would not trade his experiences with the Gamecock Club for anything. “Generally speaking to cover it all, just having the opportunity to talk with people about what they are passionate about has been special,” Brown said.
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by brian hand Executive Editor
20 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
South Carolina Gamecocks
Recruiting Round-up One USC quarterback target came off the board last Friday but another one came on. Jelani Woods of Ellenwood, GA committed to Oklahoma State at the start of an unofficial visit to Stillwater. Woods attended USC’s spring game and came out of that with USC his stated leader, but he said Friday night his feelings changed because “I just felt more comfortable at Oklahoma State.” With Woods out of the picture, USC Friday offered Kaymen Cureton (6-2 195) of Lawndale, CA, and this was not just some throw away offer to a West Coast prospect. Cureton’s grandmother lives in Beaufort Phil Kornblut and thus he takes the ofContributing fer from the Gamecocks Writer seriously. “USC is of sincere interest because my grandmother and a large part of my family actually live in South Carolina,” Cureton said. “I would be coming into a family environment which is huge for me because that’s just the type of guy I am. I’m glad it has actually came true. It’s a huge school to be offered by and it’s SEC Football, meaning that only few guys out this way get offers like this because it’s major talent out in the South.” Cureton currently is committed to San Jose State but has seen his offer list expand to a higher level this spring. Some of the new offers besides USC are LSU, Boston College, Hawaii, San Diego State, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado State. “I think I’ll be able to put a list of schools together that are of my own personal importance near the beginning or middle of my senior season,” he said. USC recruiter Travaris Robinson was by the school Friday to check on Cureton who is a dual-threat quarterback. Last season he passed for 3787 yards and rushed for 773 yards while accounting for 34 total touchdowns. There aren’t many major programs that haven’t offered LB KJ Britt of Oxford, AL. Britt has a USC offer and he’s hearing regularly from recruiter Coleman Hutzler. Britt went to Georgia last Saturday for the G-Day Game and he’s currently favoring the Bulldogs over USC, Auburn and Florida. He’s also going to visit Ole Miss April 23rd and LSU April 30th. Britt plans to announce his decision August 8th. Former Ole Miss signee DE Joe Anderson (6-4 285) will play his second season at CopiahLincoln JC, MS this fall and then he most likely will get another shot to play in the SEC. Anderson has picked up offers from USC, Texas A&M and Mississippi State from the SEC,
By Phil Kornblut
and Ole Miss is also back in touch. He also has offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Southern Cal and Texas-San Antonio. Right now he has the Gamecocks and Aggies at the top. Anderson who has been talking with defensive line coach Lance Thompson. “He was talking to me about how I play and that I have great speed. He was telling me about how they run their defense and that I would be on the end as a five or four technique. That’s what we run so I’d know what to do.” Anderson said Texas A&M is recruiting him the hardest at this point and he wants to visit there and USC this fall. In fact, he wants to take official visits in the fall before making a decision. Anderson is a native of Thibodaux, LA. He is on track to graduate in December and he will have three years to play two at this next stop. Last season Anderson totaled 15 tackles and 2 sacks. Former Georgia DB Johnathan Abram, now of Jones JC, MS, was offered last week by USC. Abram played last season at Georgia and even started in the game against USC. He did not join the Bulldogs in their bowl game due to what was called “personal reasons.” DE Josiah Coatney of Holmes JC, MS took his final official visits recently to Florida and Alabama. Those two along with USC, Texas A&M and Mississippi State are the schools he’s considering as he works towards a decision the first week in May, possibly May 5th. Coatney said he won’t narrow his list down and will make his pick from the five schools he visited. USC recruiter Lance Thompson remains in regular contact with him and the two talked last week.” “He was telling me about the spring game and their needs on the defensive line,” he said. “He also talked about how they are progressing as a team and where they want to be this season and how he wants me to be a part of something really special.” Coatney said there is no leader at this point and he realizes he faces a difficult decision. He does have criteria by which he’ll judge the schools. “Where I fit in with a program and where I can contribute the most,” he said. “Coaches, players, player development, academics, facilities, stuff like that. I’d be lucky to sign with any one of them.” LB Markail Benton of Phenix City, AL has USC in his top six. The others are Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and LSU. RB D’Andre Swift of Philadelphia released his top ten Saturday…USC, Clemson, Miami, Maryland, Penn State, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Michigan. DB Rahmi Robinson (5-11 183) of Hampton, GA was in for USC’s spring game. Robinson is a relative unknown at this point in recruiting circles and he hopes to change that with a big spring. “I only have offers thus far and that’s
from Columbus State and Kentucky Christian but interest is picking up from South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Brown University, TennesseeChattanooga and SC State. This off-season I’ve already visited SC State, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt.” Last season Robinson totaled 67 tackles with 3 passes defended and 1 interception in 8 games. Last week USC offered DB Paris Ford of Pittsburgh who currently is committed to Pittsburgh, DE Jonathan Garvin of Lake Worth, FL, WR Devonta Smith of Amite, LA, WR Joseph Lewis of Los Angeles, 2018 QB James Foster of Montgomery, AL, a North Carolina commitment, 2018 FS/WR Jaiden Woodberry of Bellflower, CA and 2019 DB Max Williams of Gardena, CA. 2016 DE Jajuan Blankenship of TL Hanna will join USC this fall as an invited walk-on. Basketball News: USC basketball coach Frank Martin added a fourth member to his 2016 recruiting class Monday with a commitment from 6-2 PG Hassani Gravett, a native of Villa Rica, GA who played this past season at Pensacola State JC, FL. Gravett made his official visit to USC over last weekend and made his pledge Monday morning. Gravett plans to sign his letter of intent at a ceremony at his school in the near future. He chose the Gamecocks over West Virginia, East Carolina and Georgia State and will have three years of eligibility. “Through the process of recruiting I had a tough time deciding which school I wanted to go to but after visiting and talking to the coach more and more I felt the most comfortable at South Carolina so I think I made the best decision possible,” Gravett said. “I felt the family oriented environment. I really liked the players and coaches. Coach Frank Martin reminds me a lot of my coach here at Pensacola State and I really enjoyed it here. Me being under Frank now, he’s basically the same person and I wouldn’t want to play for any other guy.” Gravett was the Georgia 4A Player of the Year as a senior. This season at Pensacola State, he was named the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year despite being limited to just 12 games because of a pair high ankle sprains. He still averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game. while shooting 41% from the floor, 39% from three and 86% from the line. “There’s so much to like,” said Pensacola State coach Pete Pena. “He’s a good ball handler, a good shooter, he’s very competitive and he works hard every day in practice. He runs off ball screens but is quick enough to create his own shot.” In his conversations with Martin, Gravett got the picture that there’s a need for him in the program with the chance for immediate contribution.
“He told me this year they really struggled at the point guard spot playing guys out of position,” Gravett said. “He’s bringing me in because I’m a point guard. I feel comfortable at that position. They didn’t really do a lot of pick and roll action not having a point guard and now that I’m going to come in that will just add to their style of play.” And that should include hitting the three ball with consistency. In one of his high school games, Gravett knocked down eight shots behind the line. “I can definitely shoot the ball,” he said. “I grew up a pass first point guard. I have the ability to go score if I need to but I have a great court vision. I look to set guys up but if I need to go get a bucket I can.” USC marks the third commitment for Gravett in his recruiting journey. He originally committed to Gardner-Webb and briefly attended Hargrave Prep, VA and Louisiana-Lafayette before landing at Pensacola. Martin also hosted over the weekend 2016 target 7-1 Khadim Gueye of Bradenton, FL for an official visit and the Gamecocks did a good job with him his coach said last Monday afternoon. “He had a good time, he enjoyed the players and had a good visit,” coach Loren Jackson of Victory Rock Prep said. “They told him he had an opportunity to grow and develop, those were the main things.” Gueye has also visited South Florida and Long Beach State. He will take an official visit to Arizona State this week and probably will make a decision early next week according to his coach. As for the Gamecocks’ chances at this point, Jackson said, “They are in good shape. He’s got to go to Arizona State and get a comparison.” Jackson said there isn’t a leader at this point but Long Beach has a bit of an advantage because Jackson’s son and Gueye’s teammate for three seasons is going there, and the two are good friends. 6-2 Delaware transfer PG Kory Holden also was at USC over the last weekend for an official visit. It was the first of at least two other visits he plans to make as he goes through the recruiting process again. Holden took an unofficial visit to Seton Hall Tuesday and plans to visit Virginia Tech this weekend and Baylor at the end of the month. He’s also looking at Kansas. Holden said he enjoyed the USC visit and got an inside look at how Frank Martin runs his program. “I liked how close the players were, the coaching staff and how it was like a big community and family,” Holden said. “Coach Martin was what I thought he was. He’ll tell you the truth. He’ll tell you what he wants from you and lets you know he’s going to coach you.” Holden added that Martin spelled out for him how he sees him fitting into the program CONTINUED ON PAGE 21
Spurs & Feathers • 21
April 27, 2016
Remembering a beloved family member and die-hard Gamecock fan Growing up, Reid Grier remembers going to every South Carolina football game with his dad, David Grier. While the family had recently moved down from New Jersey, they quickly became Gamecock Club members in 1998. Anyone familiar with the Gamecock football program during that time knows it was a difficult period for the team. However, the Grier family continued to support the Gamecocks from the moment they moved south and David in particular became a huge fan of all of South Carolina athletics. On Feb. 28, 2016, David passed away and the Grier family lost a loved one while Gamecock Nation lost a tremendous fan. “We have kind of a different background than most Gamecock fans do,” Reid said. “My dad was die-hard and I’m die-hard.” Maria Grier, David’s wife, wouldn’t call herself a sports fan, but with how big a fan David was, Gamecock athletics were always a big part of their life. “When we first met, our second date was a tailgate at a USC game,” Maria said. “His grandparents had season tickets. He had season tickets and he would never miss a game.” Maria and David met in New York City and David attended Furman University. Born in North Carolina, David moved back RECRUITING ROUNDUP CONTINUED FROM PAGE 20 and the role he would play. “He wants a two point guard system so he said for me to sit out, get bigger and stronger and come in and play.” Holden said he doesn’t have a favorite yet and wants to take his other visits before identifying one. He does not have a timetable for a decision. Last season as a sophomore Holden averaged 18 points per game shooting 80% from the line and 39% behind the three point arc. He will have to sit out next season and will have two seasons to play. Martin also is looking at is 6-8 2G Keanu Pinder, a native of Australia who played the past two seasons at Hutchinson JC, KS. Prior to attending Hutch, Pinder attended Sunrise Christian Academy from where Martin signed 6-9 Maik Kotsar for this year’s class. Pinder just
and forth from New Jersey to North Carolina and the family eventually settled in Greenville. No matter what happened, David always gave his full support to South Carolina. “It was unbelievable how loyal of a fan he was,” Maria said. “Unbelievable. He could tell you players and stuff that happened, plays that happened from whatever year back.” As with most Gamecock fans, Clemson was not well-liked within the Grier household. David had 30 nieces and nephews that all went to different schools around the country and whenever one of their schools were playing Clemson, David would call them and wish them luck. “My family lives in Greenville so it’s behind enemy lines,” Reid said. “Up until the last two years, it was nice to kind of stick it to the Clemson people a little bit. He always had a lot of fun with that. He had a lot of coworkers and a lot of friends that loved kind of going back and forth with him.” David’s love for the Gamecocks brought the family together and they were able to spend a lot of time together supporting everything about South Carolina. “It was always a family affair,” Reid said. “He always took us down (to Columbia) as much as he could. We spent a lot of quality time together just tailgating like six hours before the game every game.” decommitted from New Mexico. He also has been committed to Nebraska in the past. This season he started 30 of 34 games as the Dragons lost in the junior college national championship game. He averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds a game while shooting 52% from the floor and 63% from the line. Pinder is early in the process since decommitting from the Lobos and several schools have been in touch with him. He’s not at the point where he’s identified the ones he plans to visit. USC commitment PG Rakym Felder of Brooklyn has not yet signed his LOI but plans to once he gets his most recent test score back assuming he qualifies. The USC women signed highly recruited 5-10 PG Tyasha Harris of Noblesville, IN. She had not been previously publicly committed to USC. Dawn Staley also signed previously committed 5-8 Victoria Patrick of Orlando.
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by kyle heck Reporter
22 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
South Carolina track and field team in midst of impressive year by kyle heck Reporter
progressing quite well and their expectations are high,” Frye said. “We haven’t had a disappointing outdoor meet so far, so as As the South Carolina track and field long as we keep meeting expectations and team progresses deeper and deeper into progressing toward the top-10, I’ll be quite the season in 2016, head coach Curtis Frye happy.” believes his team just keeps getting better On the men’s side, 10 athletes and two and better. relay teams are currently ranked in the topThe national rankings back up Frye’s 25 in the country. Some of the standouts claim. As a team, the men’s squad was include Dondre Echols, Jermaine Collier, recently ranked No. 9 in the country by Isaiah Moore, Ncincilili Titi, Jussi Kanervo, the U.S. track and field and cross country Michael Wamer and Josh Awotunde. coaches association, its highest ranking Frye said he has been proud of what the since 2010. In addition, there are several men’s team has done, particularly because individuals on both the men’s and women’s they aren’t necessarily the Olympic level team that are ranked inside the top-25. athletes that other teams are stacked with. The outdoor spring season that is current- Frye’s athletes, both men and women, have ly taking place has been especially success- worked hard to get where they are and they ful for the Gamecocks. At the Spec Towns also try hard in the classroom as well. Invitational in Athens, Georgia, South “Their main priority is academics,” Frye Carolina won seven events. Prior to that said of his team. “Our team is not loaded in Gainesville, Florida, at the Florida Rewith athletes that are Olympians that are lays against a strong field, the Gamecocks (just) waiting to graduate. Their careers performed very well and had a combined start after college, so that’s a different six top-five finishes among the men’s and perspective from the pursuit that athletes women’s team. sometimes have if they show promise at an “Every week is a progress and our kids are Olympic level. Their efforts go more toward
more healthy before the SEC and NCAA outdoor championships that take place in May and June. The Gamecocks won’t have the services of Nakita Gray, who won South Carolina’s first individual title since 2011 with a win in the high jump at the SEC indoor championships in February, the rest of this year because of an injury. “Briana Haith has done a phenomenal job and Tyler Brockington (is) back and her running the intermediates and starting to adapt after sitting out indoors really gives us a shot,” Frye said. “I think we have a special group.” PHOTO BY ALLEN SHARPE With the season ramping up, Frye is just hoping that his team can stay healthy. If trying to make teams and become profesthey continue to stay away from the injury sionals and stuff like that.” bug for the most part, there will be exThe success isn’t confined to the men’s tremely high expectations at conference and team, however, as the women have five innational championships. dividuals and three relay teams ranked in As noted before, South Carolina doesn’t the top-25. Natasha Dicks, Tyler Brockinghave the pure talent that some other teams ton, Briana Haith and Aliyah Abrams are some of the standouts on that side. Abrams, in the SEC and country have, but the Gamea freshman, recently won the 400-meter run cocks’ work ethic more than makes up for that. at the Spec Towns Invitational. “Work hard, and hard work beats talent Frye has been equally as pleased with his when talent doesn’t work,” Frye said. women’s squad, but is hoping they can get
Gamecocks, Curing Kids Cancer team together for fire truck pull by kyle heck Reporter The Curing Kids Cancer organization holds a special place in the hearts of many people, including a lot of student-athletes at the University of South Carolina. That was clearly evident at the third annual fire truck pull to benefit Curing Kids Cancer, held at the Columbia Fire Department and Museum. Members of the South Carolina equestrian, women’s soccer and men’s golf team were among the teams that tried to see who could put up the fastest time while pulling a 35,000-pound fire truck. “It’s great. We’re all excited to do this,” men’s golf senior Matt NeSmith said. “This is a great program for the kids and we’re really happy to come out here and do as much as we can.” Abigail Pait, a senior on the equestrian team, helped coordinate the fire truck pull and loves helping Curing Kids Cancer and also hopes to work with and help the organization after she graduates. “Personally, it’s the fact that you can have
photo by kyle heck
real connections with these families,” Pait said of why Curing Kids Cancer stands out to her. “Getting to know each and every one of them has been a truly amazing situation to be in. It’s really a great experience.” All the proceeds from the fire truck pull are going to the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic at Palmetto Richland Children’s Hospital. Grainne Owen and her husband, Clay, created Curing Kids Cancer in 2004 to help fund cutting edge therapies for childhood cancer and provide support to the children and their
families. Their son, Killian, lost a battle against leukemia and that was the inspiration for creating the organization. “I see my son Killian in every one of these children,” Grainne Owen told the crowd before the event started. “I know what they go through and how much it means to see you literally pulling in support of them.” Gina Janvrin with Curing Kids Cancer played a huge role in planning the fire truck pull and has always been impressed with how the University of South Carolina and the entire city of Columbia support causes like
theirs. “I’ve had a lot of support, especially from USC,” Janvrin said. “I had a fraternity out here helping me set up and they’ve been great. The community has really come together, especially the Columbia Fire Department. We couldn’t do this without them.” More than 20 teams participated in the event and there was live music and all kinds of games for those in attendance to play. It was a great event to help children and their families that are in a time of need right now. “Cancer is something that is really personal for me,” said Emily Ball, a senior on the women’s soccer team. “It affects everybody, but I’ve been really involved with it as well. I work with the Relay for Life organization on campus and I’m also doing cancer research this summer. I’m all for the fundraising.” Curing Kids Cancer and the University of South Carolina have developed a great relationship and both entities are committed to helping the cause. “That really means a lot,” Janvrin said of the support of South Carolina athletics. “It brings more people out too. It shows that they really do a lot of community service.”
Spurs & Feathers • 23
April 27, 2016
The future of Gamecock basketball is bright
photo by allen sharpe
a rate quicker than most national pundits thought. That is why Tanner’s decision to extend Martin was so important and why Martin and his family accepting the new contract is such a big step for the program. It does not mean Final Fours and National
Championships are just around the corner but with the efforts of Tanner to secure the future of Gamecock basketball combined with the work ethic of Frank Martin, fans have plenty to be excited about for the future at Colonial Life Arena.
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Since their last win in the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1971-1972, the South Carolina basketball program has been filled with what we will say, have been interesting decisions. Of course, it is always easy to be judge, jury and executioner when I can look back on the results but at times in my opinion it has been mind boggling at the decisions the Gamecock administration has made regarding the direction of Bill Gunter the basketball Contributing program. Writer However, at the beginning of April, Athletic Director Ray Tanner gave the basketball program what has needed most and that was stability. That is precisely what head coach Frank Martin has years ago was considered one of the worst provided during his first four years on the in the country. With that in mind, Tanner job and the results are beginning to show stepping to the plate and securing Martin for a program that is on the rise. for at least six more years is a sign that the There are times I do not feel that Gameadministration believes they have the right cock fans truly appreciate just what is takguy to build a program. ing place under Martin’s watch at Colonial It also adds stability to a program that Life Arena. The recruiting pitch that Martin needed to see the same confident face must make is unlike anything I can think of roaming the sidelines and instructing his in terms of recruiting both a player and his players. Granted, Eddie Fogler and Dave parents to the University of South Carolina Odom both had tenures that lasted more Consider that when Martin meets with a than five years but this feels different. The prospective student-athlete, he is not just Gamecocks have a coach that is equipped trying to convince that particular player to go on the road and continue to upgrade why he should come to a program so deso- the talent through recruiting. They have the late of success over the past 40 years but al- man who is capable of coaching up players so Martin must convince one or two parents when they arrive on campus and making who are not likely old enough to know of or them into better people as well as better remember any NCAA Tournament success. basketball players. Yet, in year four, there was Martin proThe Gamecocks had come too far under ducing the most wins in program history Martin to start over and while they have during the regular-season, producing just come a long way, there are still miles to go. the fourth SEC conference winning reMartin will tell you that and that is what cord over the past 25 years and getting the makes getting the contract extension ironed Gamecocks back into some form of post out even better. Martin knows what needs season play. to be done to take this program to the next I do fully understand that there was dislevel and that is the most important aspect appointment at the end of the season and for the Gamecocks direction. The knowlit did not end as many wanted it to. I get edge of what has been accomplished and that following the victory on the road over what needs to be done next. Arkansas to close out the South Carolina basketball regular-season, that many has been irrelevant for so felt the Gamecocks were long that it is hard to see a lock to make the NCAA light at the end of the tunTournament the subsequent nel. However, with continlet down was tough for many ued strong recruiting efforts to swallow. combined with success on All Gamecock basketball the court which leads to fan Still that does not dimincoverage sponsored by ish what was accomplished attendance, the program is Yesterdays for a program that just four developing and doing so at
24 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
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Spurs & Feathers • 25
April 27, 2016
Annual Lexington golf tournament another huge success by kyle heck Reporter
On an absolutely perfect day for golf, the Lexington County Gamecock Club held its annual golf tournament at the Country Club of Lexington on Monday, April 11. As usual, the event had another outstanding turnout with 29 golf teams participating and it also featured an appearance by head football coach Will Muschamp and his staff. The football staff comes out for the tournament every year, and Lexington County Gamecock Club president Steve Gunter was happy to continue that trend with the new regime. “It’s another great turnout on a beautiful day,” noted Gunter. “Our tradition continues with Coach Muschamp and his staff coming out to eat some food and network. He was very gracious. Everyone spoke very highly of how down to earth he is.” For Muschamp, it was a no brainer to take some time out of he and his staff’s busy was more than happy to come out and show schedule to make an appearance. his support in Lexington. He was also “It’s the largest Gamecock Club in the joined by director of basketball operations state and they offer us great support and al- Andy Assaley. so financial support, so they do a great job “The Lexington County Gamecock for us and we’re just trying to show them a Club has been unbelievable,” Martin said. little appreciation to them for the job they “We’ve got a lot of detail done right outdo,” Muschamp said. side our locker room and The football coaches they’re the ones that wrote weren’t the only ones in the check to make sure it attendance. Head men’s basgot done. They’ve been ketball coach Frank Martin All Gamecock golf coverage great to us in my time here. came out to join a team and sponsored by Jeffers-McGill I’ve been out every year for
their dinner and now this golf event falls on a day where I’m actually around and it’s going to be interesting out there. It’s one thing at a sit down dinner, it’s another thing when you go out and play golf. It’ll be laid back and go out there and have a lot of fun.” Women’s golf head coach Kalen Anderson and one of her players, Katelyn Dambaugh, were in attendance as well, in addition to men’s golf freshman Ryan Stachler. Dambaugh hit a honorary shot at the tournament.
“It’s really awesome,” Dambaugh said. “It’s a great experience. It’s just really good to meet all these people and see all the people who’ve done so much for our program and who have helped us in so many ways.” With such a large event and great turnout, there was a lot of help that was provided to Gunter and the Lexington County Gamecock Club for the golf tournament and that meant a lot of people to thank. Hudson’s Smokehouse BBQ and Mathias Sandwich Shop provided the food while Enloe, a company in Aiken, provided a large digital sign for the tournament. All-in-all, there were over 70 sponsors for the golf tournament. Gunter also thanked the Gamecock Club and all of the Lexington County Gamecock Club committee members that helped with everything. Patrick McFarland, executive director of the Gamecock Club, was out at the Country Club of Lexington as well and is thankful for the support that comes from the Lexington County Gamecock Club and their annual golf tournament. To also see members of the South Carolina athletics community come together and interact with fans and donors meant a lot as well. “It’s neat to see our coaches come out,” McFarland said. “For our coaches to care enough about the Lexington County Gamecock Club to come out and give them support, it means a lot to us and also everyone who is a member of the Lexington County Gamecock Club.”
look at what the new head coach is doing on the recruiting trail. With the new era in Gamecock football, a lot of people are wondering what to expect, but for those at the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club meeting, there was an air of excitement after hearing Kornblut speak. “They are looking forward to the spring game and seeing for themselves,” Ervin said. “They’re excited about the growth of the program and really moving forward. It seems like everyone is getting really excited and I think after a disappointing season last year, it really looks positive for the team, for the University and for the fans and I would say that was the case in Spartanburg as well.” The Spartanburg County Gamecock Club is looking forward to a busy, but fun, year ahead. Muschamp himself will be in town on May 5 to speak to the club and sign au-
tographs. In addition, the third annual golf classic will be held on April 30 and in August there will be the annual football kickoff pep rally. Ervin and the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club are hoping to continue to build the club and get more and more people in the Upstate excited about the University of South Carolina. With a new club president in Lee Thornton and several new board members, the future looks bright. “We’re trying to grow,” Ervin said. “One of the things that we’re trying to impress upon people is that our events are open to all Gamecock fans, not just members of the Gamecock Club. If somebody is a Gamecock fan that lives in the Spartanburg area and wants to attend our events or to be made aware of them, they need to follow us on all of our social media.”
photo by brian hand
Kornblut talks football at Spartanburg Gamecock Club meeting by kyle heck Reporter
The Spartanburg County Gamecock Club wasn’t sure how many people would show up to the March monthly meeting at Delaney’s Irish Pub in Spartanburg on Tuesday, March 22. It had been a while since the club had a monthly meeting with a speaker and it was also happening at a new location. However, with SportsTalk’s Phil Kornblut as the featured speaker, the club had a packed room at Delaney’s. “Like I said, we hadn’t done it in so long, so we really didn’t know how many people were going to come,” Spartanburg County Gamecock Club secretary Tiffany Ervin said. “We met at a new location on a Tuesday night after not having had one in a year or two. It was a great turnout.”
With new head football coach Will Muschamp and his staff getting their first spring in charge started up at the time, there were obviously a lot of people that were anxious to hear what Kornblut had to say about the football team. “Obviously the folks who are supporters of the organizations or the student-athletes of the University don’t really get to go to football practice on a regular basis so they see what they read online and those kind of things,” Ervin said. “But to hear it from someone like Phil who studies recruits and studies the game and is an expert, for them to get a chance to hear his personal observations was really good for a lot of people. He talked about watching practices and the differences he’s seen since coach Muschamp has come in.” With Kornblut’s reputation as a recruiting expert, those in attendance also got an inside
26 â€˘ Spurs & Feathers
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Muschamp releases post-spring depth chart
Spurs & Feathers â€˘ 27
April 27, 2016
Gamecock Club spring meetings/events
Spartanburg County Gamecock Club Third Annual Gamecock Golf Classic When: Saturday, April 30 Where: Woodfin Ridge Golf Club, 215 S. Woodfin Ridge Drive, Inman, SC 29349 Tournament Schedule: Four-player captainâ€™s choice Time: 12:00 PM registration, 1:30 PM Shotgun Start Registration: $300 per team (lunch provided) More information: Please visit spartanburggamecockclub.org
Beaufort County Gamecock Club Spring Meeting Featuring tight ends coach Pat Washington When: Tuesday, May 3, 6:00pm Where: Q on the Bay, 822 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC 29902 Kershaw Gamecock Club Spring Meeting featuring offensive line coach Shawn Elliott When: Wednesday, May 4 Where: Old South Restaurant and Catery, 509 Dicey Ford Road, Camden, SC 29020 Time: 6:00 PM Doors open 6:30 PM Dinner 7:00 PM Program Begins Tickets: $10 in advance or $15 at the door Tickets may be purchased by calling Casey Robinson at 803-669-0273 or by visiting the BSL Sandwich Shop, 1110 Little Street, Camden, Old
When: Thursday, May 19th Time: 6pm, Social and Dinner 7pm, Guest Speaker Where: VFW, Post 6444, Located at â€“ 711 Church Street, Georgetown, SC 29440 Cost: Free to all Gamecock Club Members and South and Catery, 509 Dicey Ford Road, Camden invited guests Info: Wayne Morris @ 843-222-7972, or Saluda County Gamecock Club Spring Meet- email@example.com ing featuring co-offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon Dorchester County Gamecock Club Meet & Greet with Coach Muschamp When: Thursday, May 5, 6:00 PM Where: Persimmon Hill Golf Club, 126 Golf When: Monday, May 23, 2016 Club Lane, Saluda, SC 29138 Time: 6:30 PM Where: Bud Knightâ€™s Party Barn, 2400 HighLancaster County Gamecock Club Spring way 17-A South, Summerville, S.C. 29483 Meeting featuring offensive line coach Shawn Details: Buffet BBQ Supper & Cash Bar (beer Elliott (Save the date) & wine) $20 for Adults When: Monday, May 16 (more information to $10 for Children 7 & older come in the future) No charge for children six & under Members of the Carolina Girls Dance Team, Atlanta Gamecock Club Spring Meeting Gamecock football greats Langston Moore & featuring defensive coordinator/defensive backs Preston Thorne book signing, Picture & autograph Travaris Robinson opportunities, Door Prizes and lots of fun & surprises, including invited guests When: Tuesday, May 17 Time: 6:30 PM Washington DC Gamecock Club Spring Where: The Pavilion at Olde Towne, 4950 Olde Social Featuring defensive line coach Lance Town Parkway, Marietta, GA 30068 Thompson, Former Gamecock Great Brad EdTickets: $35 before May 5, after May 5 tickets wards and Cocky! are $45 When: Tuesday, May 24, 6:30pm Please visit AtlantaGamecockClub.com for more Where: Hard Times Cafe, 3028 Wilson Blvd, information Arlington, VA 22201 (across from the Clarendon Metro station) Georgetown County Gamecock Club Spring General Info: Featured guests speakers will Meeting featuring assistant head coach defense/ include new assistant head coach for defense & defensive line Lance Thompson defensive line Coach Lance Thompson and former
Gamecock Defensive Back & Senior Associate Athletic Director Brad Edwards. Cocky is also scheduled to appear, and there will drawings for raffle prizes! ALL GAMECOCK FANS ARE WELCOME AND ADMISSION IS FREE! Please RSVP by going to http://www.gamecocksonline.com/dcspringsocial/ or look us up on Facebook! Cherokee County Gamecock Club Spring Meeting featuring running backs coach Bobby Bentley When: Wednesday, May 25 Time: 6:00PM Where: Daddy Joeâ€™s Beach House BBQ & Grill, 1400 W Floyd Baker Blvd, Gaffney, SC 29341
Florence County Gamecock Club Annual William Rhea Memorial Golf Tournament Host: Florence County Gamecock Club Location: Florence Country Club (http://www. florencecc.com/) Date: Monday, June 16 Time: 1:00 Tournament Style: Captains Choice Transportation: Provided - Via RV Pick up/Drop off location: Holliday Inn on Clemson Road (1011 Clemson Frontage Rd, Columbia, SC 29229) at 10:30am Current listing of known upcoming Gamecock Club events: Please contact Brian Hand (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your upcoming event is not listed. All of these are in addition to the #SpursUpTour dates (please visit page 4 for those dates). As always, you can visit TheGamecockClub.com and SpursandFeathers.com as more events are added frequently.
Berson on Fan Appreciation Clinic: â€˜Itâ€™s a great day for usâ€™
The South Carolina menâ€™s soccer program knows that it cannot be among the tops in the nation on and off the field without fans. This past season, the Gamecocks finished off an impressive season with 11 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance. South Carolina concluded their home season undefeated for the first time since 1993 at 8-0-2. That Gamecocks collected that impressive undefeated home mark playing in front of some of the largest crowds in the country. To thank Gamecock fans everywhere for all they do for the program on Thursday, April 7, South Carolina menâ€™s soccer held their annual Fan Appreciation Clinic at the Field House. The two-hour event for boys aged five to 12 featured free food, a clinic provided by the menâ€™s soccer student-athletes and coaching
staff, small-sided scrimmages and a raffle. In addition, the Gamecocks signed autographs for all in attendance. South Carolina menâ€™s soccer head coach Mark Berson could not have been more pleased with how it all turned out. â€œItâ€™s a great day for us,â€? Berson said. â€œSo many of these people support both our menâ€™s and our womenâ€™s programs as season ticket holders. These are the future of our sport in our community, and our players really do enjoy getting in and working with them. Itâ€™s a lot of fun.â€? The annual Fan Appreciation Clinic is just another example of the Gamecocks reaching out to the community. â€œItâ€™s a good chance for our players to give back to the community,â€? Berson said. â€œI know that is said time and time again, but itâ€™s true. A lot of these young players grow up hopefully with the vision of â€˜hey, I want to be a college
player, or I want to play in high school.â€™ To do that, you have to get the grades and along the way you have to sacrifice some things as well. If you have that person out there (at clinic) if
you grow up wanting to be the next Brad Guzan or the next Kurtis Turner then thatâ€™s really something that our athletes and our soccer program can maybe provide.â€?
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by Brian Hand Executive Editor
28 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
photo by juan blas
Alumni game served as a bridge to past and present “This is awesome” “I hope this is an every year thing” “It’s great to be back home”
the past is also paving the future towards ATL. For the future Gamecocks trying to cross that bridge toward an SEC championship, connecting with our past brothers in the coop is vital to us moving These are some of the conversations overheard forward. from the alumni at the first alumni flag football You never really know how big your family is game. The roster of players for this game spanned and how many generations it spans until everyone many “eras.” is underneath one roof, typically a holiday. Even From the first though family members may not have seen each All-American in other in years they often pick up right where they the football proleft off. For the younger members of the family gram to walk-ons it’s the time to be integrated into the fold of the turned stars, the elders. To sit back and hear of stories when “crazy heroes were out! uncle so and so did something so wild it made With the stadium your grandmothers head shake.” Many of us who sprinkled with played on that field had our fair share of moments garnet and black, that made our own patriarch shake their heads, these “era-less” some in approval some for disappointment. Gamecocks Having family is important! Many of us who Langston Moore smiled, slapped played a team sport, shined individually, but it’s Contributing high fives, and not until we leave the team that we realize how imWriter cheered each portant they were to our own success. Your teamother as they mates are there with you every day, trotting along pranced around Williams-Brice. Even though this through the season creating memories. Some days 30-minute contest between the Gamecocks of old you lean on them some days they lean on you, seemed like filler before the Gamecocks of today but mostly you lean on each other, like family. took the field, this game served as a bridge. The That’s why in the end no matter how talented you man that over saw the architecture of this bridge to are individually having your family (teammate)
there to share those experiences with you makes the journey all worth the while. “No mans is and island,” having these opportunities to reconnect with teammates new and old is so valuable to the culture of the program. Holidays become more meaningful as you grow older in life, you come to cherish that family time. For football fans, during the season every gameday is a holiday! For those who were the show, who spent hours of their life with their teammates practicing gamedays feel like Christmas. But when your time has passed it’s tough emotionally to go through a holiday (gameday) without one of your brothers (teammate) not there to share it with you. Imagine not having any of your family around for Thanksgiving and having to spend it alone? Not seeing your favorite uncle or cousin makes holidays feel like one is missing something. Sure you can have all the holiday trimmings, but what makes the holiday magical is the fellowship and chance to enjoy each others company. As the years pass and our own personal families grow it becomes harder and harder to make time for those football holidays. Having the new staff carve out time for us to fellowship at the place we once called home is precious. Many of us former players always converse about not doing enough or spending enough time reconnecting (sounds
a lot like your grandmother). This alumni game gave us our excuse, and a platform to share time with our Gamecock Family. It allowed us the time to make those connections once again with our old brethren. This holiday for Gamecocks of all eras is a bridge between gamecock Generations some who’ve never meet each other. The opportunity to exchange memories, advice, and love for our University is something that can’t be seen as trite. Experience is something that can’t be manufactured, and the experience of the 100-plus alums exudes what it means to be a Gamecock at its core. Displaying the decades of talent, leadership, greatness for everyone to relish in can’t be quantified. Sure it’s tough to round up a group of “once was” stars, getting them to all show up (on time) for something like the alumni game. It may be hard to justify all the extra ice bags, tape and trainers needed to make the alumni game happen. But the impact this has had on our own family - Gamecock Family, makes it all worth it. Like many holidays you start of asking “why” - “why go through the trouble traveling,” “why put up with all the headaches,” “why do this?” But in the end it’s all worth it and you’ve created new memories to talk about until next years holiday.... Forever to Thee...
McIlwain gives Gamecocks ‘command and a lot of maturity’ by brian hand Executive Editor
When asked what he has seen of McIlwain this spring and in the spring game, Muschamp speaks very strong words of a true freshman. He should be getting ready for senior prom this “A lot of command and a lot of maturity,” month, but instead Brandon McIlwain decided Muschamp said of McIlwain. “Obviously, he’s a to spend the spring with the Gamecock football really good athlete, and I think he throws the ball program after graduating early. extremely well.” According to South Carolina head football South Carolina senior safety Chris Moody has coach Will Muschamp, the freshman quarterback seen a lot of McIlwain this spring, and he likes has “continued to improve from practice one until what he has seen. now.” “I think he’s great, actually,” Moody said. “I The now he is referring to is South Carolina’s really like him. He’s a good guy. I think if he can annual spring game on Saturday, April 9, that learn to take control and run the offense, I think concluded the Gamecocks’ first spring practices he will be the guy. But I really like him at quarunder Muschamp. terback.”
Senior linebacker T.J. Holloman agrees with his defensive teammate about McIlwain. “The physical tools are there,” Holloman said. In his first true experience in Williams-Brice Stadium in front of a crowd, McIlwain, who now turns his attention to Gamecock baseball, passed for three touchdowns. In total, in action for the garnet and black teams, McIlwain was 19-of-26 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed the football five times for 19 yards and one touchdown. His top target for the winning black team, redshirt freshman Javon Charleston, who hauled in four catches for 54 yards, echoed Muschamp’s usage of the word command when talking about
McIlwain. “That’s a great word to use for him,” Charleston said. “One thing I’ve noticed from him is coming from baseball practice to football practice is he’s very focused in what he’s doing at where he’s at. When he gets on the football field, he knows what he expects from guys, and he makes sure he does his part as a quarterback to make his reads and he’s quick with his decision making. We have trust in him that all I have to do is my assignment, get my route right, and he’ll get the ball to me.” The quarterback competition will continue into the preseason practices, but for McIlwain the spring was a promising start to what all are hoping will be a strong Gamecock career.
Spurs & Feathers • 29
April 27, 2016
Gamecock great Corey Jenkins reflects back on amazing journey by kyle heck Reporter
But it would be six years before he ever got to put on the Garnet and Black and fulfill his lifelong dream. Corey Jenkins grew up in the shadow of Why the long wait? Well, Jenkins was also Williams-Brice Stadium and had a lifelong an outstanding baseball player and in 1995, he dream of running out of the tunnel to “2001” was taken in the first round of the MLB Draft and playing for the Gamecocks. by the Boston Red Sox. Jenkins ultimately He wanted to be inside the stadium so much decided to try professional baseball and spent that growing up, he went with some friends to four years in the minor leagues. sell peanuts and sodas just so he could have a After his baseball career ended, Jenkins way to watch the game. decided he wanted to give football a shot once “Me and my brother and friends and every- again. He attended Garden City Junior Colbody we knew would try to come up and sell lege for two years and in his final season, acsodas and peanuts and I was literally like 10 counted for 18 touchdowns and quarterbacked years old,” Jenkins said. “It was a way to get his team to a perfect record and a No. 1 rankinto the football game because I love football ing in the junior college ranks. so much. Let’s just say I didn’t sell a lot of Finally, in 2001, Jenkins enrolled at South sodas. I was more so putting them down and Carolina and on Sept. 1, he was able to run watching the game.” out of the tunnel to “2001” in front of more Jenkins became a star quarterback at nearby than 80,000 fans. That first game against Dreher High School and had scholarship ofBoise State was a memorable one, but not for fers from all across the country. With so many the reason you might think. different schools wanting him, it was a stress“My first carry, I fumbled,” Jenkins said. ful process for Jenkins, who probably thought “The guy put his head right on the ball and it a little too much about where he wanted to go popped out. So that wasn’t a good start.” and made it harder than it had to be. However, the rest of that first year was much “I just woke up one morning and said, ‘you better for Jenkins, who was a backup quarknow what, I’m going to South Carolina,’” terback to Phil Petty. Jenkins was the ground Jenkins recalled. “I don’t know why I made threat at the position, rushing for 303 yards this so hard.” and three touchdowns. So common sense took control of Jenkins In 2002, Jenkins started nine games at quarand he committed to play for the Gamecocks. terback and threw for over 1,300 yards to go
photo by brian hand
with 655 rushing yards, and accounted for 11 touchdowns. Toward the end of the year, head coach Lou Holtz moved Jenkins to linebacker in the hope that NFL teams would see his potential. The move worked, and Jenkins was selected in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins as a linebacker. He would go on to play two years in the NFL before ending his career in the Canadian Football League. NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau became Jenkins’ mentor and he and some of Jenkins’ other teammates could not believe that he played quarterback in college when
they were told. “They all just kind of lost their minds,” Jenkins said. Jenkins also had other memories in the NFL that included talking with teammates about how great the atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium was. “I’ve had guys say to me, ‘when you guys are really playing good football and that crowd really gets into it, it’s a really tough place to play,’” Jenkins said. Jenkins was recently back for the alumni flag football game prior to the annual Garnet and Black spring football game and was happy to be back in town. He recognizes that his journey has been an incredibly unique one. “Not a lot of people have a chance to do what I’m doing,” Jenkins said. “I was a first-round draft pick in baseball and I was a sixth-round draft pick in NFL football. I played college football at my dream college where I grew up literally two minutes down the street.” Jenkins is proof that no matter the obstacles put in front of you, if you keep fighting and working at what you want, anything is possible. “My faith is really strong and for people who don’t believe, I am a true believer that whatever is meant for you is going to be for you and can’t no one stop that,” Jenkins concluded.
Several standouts in spring game
Spring practice ended in grand fashion for the South Carolina football team on Saturday, April 9, first with the alumni flag football game, and then with the annual Garnet and Black spring game. The Black squad defeated Garnet, 35-14, but as with all spring games, it was more about who stood out individually rather than the score. For the Gamecocks, there were several standouts, most notably of which was freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain. He completed 19-of-26 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. McIlwain also had a rushing touchdown on the day. “There was a lot of command and a lot of maturity,” head coach Will Muschamp said of McIlwain. “Obviously, he’s a really good athlete, but I think he throws the ball extremely well. He’s continued to improve from practice one until now and has to make tremendous strides in the offseason.” However, Muschamp said there is still a long way to go with the quarterback battle and the other quarterbacks also did some good things on
Saturday. Michael Scarnecchia was 8-for-11 for 99 yards and a touchdown while Connor Mitch completed 7-of-11 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown of his own. “I thought Connor made a couple of really nice third down throws,” Muschamp said. “I thought the decision making of where to take the ball was good and that’s always what you want. Mike had a great drive there in the third quarter. We continue to progress and the competition is our best friend as coaches and we have a lot of competition. That’s something that excites me moving forward.” One of the biggest surprises of the spring game was wide receiver Javon Charleston. The redshirt freshman hauled in four receptions for a gamehigh 54 yards. With virtually every receiver position up for grabs, Charleston is hoping his spring game performance is a springboard for the fall. “It was nice. It’s just the start though,” Charleston said. “I like the attention right now, but I definitely have big expectations for myself and coming out here today, it was just my first impression. Coach said we’re big on first impressions so I tried to make sure that my name would be looked at on a good note. Just keep on improving and play well when the fall comes.”
True freshman Bryan Edwards caught both of McIlwain’s touchdown passes to also make a statement for himself. Muschamp said that he and Deebo Samuel, who caught one pass for 16 yards on Saturday, have shined at the position so far this spring. “Deebo Samuel is a guy that’s really distanced himself,” Muschamp said. “Bryan Edwards the last two practices, including today, has shown some playmaking ability down the field.” Both the players and coaches also enjoyed having the former Gamecock greats out for the alumni game prior to the Garnet and Black game. The alumni were all recognized at halftime of the spring game and stayed after to sign autographs for fans. “Anyone that’s been part of an organization, you always want to feel welcomed to be back,” Muschamp said. “I want them to feel very welcomed to walk in our doors. I want those guys involved as much as possible and we’ll continue to embrace that as much as possible.” The first spring under Muschamp and the new regime was an interesting one to say the least. During the 15 practices, the Gamecocks attempted to implement new schemes and hope to carry what they learned into the summer and fall.
“It was definitely a lot more install and more information,” senior T.J. Holloman said of the spring. “It challenged us mentally. The physical part, we took care of that during the spring workouts, but the mental aspect of the game was very challenging for us this year.”
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by kyle heck Reporter
30 • Spurs & Feathers
April 27, 2016
Former soccer players return to Stone Stadium for alumni games by kyle heck Reporter
teammates, but they also get to interact with the current student-athletes that are continuing to carry on the legacy. “We talk to our guys all the time about the history of (program),” said men’s assistant coach Spencer Lewis, who plays a big role in organizing the alumni game. “Last year when we had almost 50 guys come back, seeing our current guys talk to them and get to know them, it just really connects the new guys to know what they’re playing for. The guys that came before them come back and tell stories and I know all the current guys, you could just tell it meant a lot to them.” Alumni weekend is always a special time for both teams and it further shows the truth of a popular saying among University of South Carolina fans and alumni - once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock. “We want it to be like a family environment and it is that,” Lewis said.
With the soccer teams having a large network with a lot of different alumni overseas for various reasons, it’s incredibly impressive that the soccer teams are able to have large turnouts year in and year out. Head men’s coach Mark Berson, who with a 38-year reign has been South Carolina’s only coach, was present for the start of the alumni games, but had to leave to attend his daughter’s wedding. Berson always makes it a point to
come out for the games and since he has been in charge for so many years, he’s developed a lot of relationships with former players and is widely respected in the program. “He’s a big part of everyone’s lives,” Rafferty said of Berson. “For most of us, this was the best four years of our lives and he was there for it all.” Marty Baltzegar had an outstanding career at South Carolina from 1984-87 as he along with Doug Allison became the first All-Americans in program history. For Baltzegar, it was nice to return to the field he created so many memories on. “It’s hard to believe that several of us alumni are older than most of the current players’ parents,” Baltzegar quipped. “Time goes by quick. We had a lot of fun and we appreciate Spencer and (assistant coach) Joey (Worthen) making sure they gather up the alumni and keep the momentum going.”
“It’s fun to see the players come out here and be so excited about the game of soccer and have a lot of fun and cheer on our playMore than 200 girls from the age of 5-12 ers,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “It’s took advantage of a free South Carolina fun to be around. We love seeing young women’s soccer clinic held on Wednesday, players be excited about the game. It’s a April 13, at Stone Stadium, and boy did neat experience for both sides.” they enjoy it. In addition to the clinic itself, there was There were all kinds of soccer balls flyalso free food provided by PDQ and the ing around and the members of the team team put on a show for the young girls, were doing the same thing as they helped scrimmaging for about eight minutes at the run drills and stations for the children, who end of the training. The Gamecocks stuck were all kicking soccer balls to each other around after that as well and raffled off and into nets set up all across the field. prizes and signed autographs for everyone It was the eighth annual Fan Appreciation who wanted them. Clinic that the Gamecocks hold to show “It was a blast,” junior Paige Bendell said. their thanks to all the fans that came out to “We love having fans in the stadium during games the season before. our season so it’s nice to give back to them
and interact with them so that we can build an even stronger relationship with them.” Wednesday’s clinic isn’t the only thing the Gamecocks do to show their support as they host other camps all throughout the summer, all in an effort to continue to grow support for the team and the sport in general and to give back. “I don’t think they realize how much it means to us to see them in the stands and come out in the fall and have a home field advantage,” Smith said. “It makes the whole environment special for these athletes. They work so hard throughout the year to be their best and when they come out on the field, they play with a lot of pride. Just to have these young players look up to them and cheer them on, it means a
lot to our athletes.” South Carolina’s efforts in the community have more than paid off as the Gamecocks sold over 1,000 season tickets last season for the first time ever. In addition, the Gamecocks ranked in the top-five in the nation in average attendance for home games. It was evident on Wednesday that the student-athletes immensely enjoy interacting with young soccer players and their fans in general and with a great relationship between the team and the fans, the support will certainly continue to grow. “Stone Stadium is an awesome environment and the more we keep our fans loyal, the more fans we’re going to have,” Bendell said.
by brian hand Executive Editor
have to see it for yourself. We have seen more than enough to know that the athletics department fosters a true sense of family across all departments. It’s obviously work, but administrators, coaches and everyone involved all root for the most important thing – Gamecock success. We at Spurs & Feathers are blessed to work in collaboration with the Gamecock Club. While we are basically an independent contractor working alongside of them, never
has anyone in athletics development ever made us not feel like we are a part of the team. That says a great deal about the type of people working at South Carolina. It’s one thing for Gamecock fans to say “It’s Great to be a Gamecock.” It’s totally another thing for those working in the South Carolina athletics department to live the saying. That’s special.
For some, it had been mere months since they played at Stone Stadium. For others, it had been decades. However, for all of the University of South Carolina alumni that returned for the alumni games on Saturday, April 16, it was a special treat. “It was awesome for all of us,” said J.P. Rafferty, who played at South Carolina from 2010-13 and was a team captain his senior year. “Whether it’s been a couple years or 20 years, it’s always good because no matter what, you never stop missing it. It’s always good to be back and kind of get a feel for how it was in the old days.” Both the men’s and women’s team had their alumni games on Saturday and it’s always one of the highlights of the year. Not only do the former players get a chance to catch up with old
photo by kyle heck
Gamecocks thank fans for support with free soccer clinic
by kyle heck Reporter
The South Carolina athletics department is truly a family
All organizations preach it, but not all really are. At South Carolina, it really is though. The University of South Carolina athletics department is truly a family. Never was that punctuated more than on the morning of Thursday, April 7, 2016, at an event we attended where busloads of ad-
ministrators, coaches and staff were on hand to support a true Gamecock family and one another. Ray Tanner and his wife, Karen, were both in attendance to lead the way, and show what it truly means to be a part of the Gamecock family. When we took over Spurs & Feathers in the summer of 2013, we had obviously kept up with the Gamecocks and been told the athletics department was special, but you
Spurs & Feathers • 31
April 27, 2016
The Gamecocks are knocking on the door Respect. A word that I have heard used a lot lately. Particularly when it comes to the men’s basketball team and the lack of a postseason invite to the NCAA tournament and the lack of respect that involved. It was compounded by the fact that the Gamecocks were Ed Girardeau in and then they Contributing were out. What is Editor one left to think? Googling respect results in the following definition: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. If we use that definition, the work that Frank Martin did this season along with his team is certainly respected locally. A program that was so far down only a few years ago has come a long way. How could anyone not admire a record-tying year with 25 wins? I suppose that outside of our own backyard, that is obviously not the case. I remember a commercial that ran years ago and is true: Respect is earned. It is also not demanded.
There are instances where a position, for instance your boss, demands respect. Be it the president to the manager, if you are working for someone, you better respect the position or you will be working elsewhere. But to earn respect on a personal level, it takes hard work and usually a virtue of honestly, integrity, or commitment or a combination of such attributes. But on a team level, you better throw in success in there, too, or achievement on a higher level. That means success that exceeds just wins and losses. To find the direction of how to gain respect on a national level, you need only look no further than the Gamecock baseball program and the women’s basketball program. The baseball team has been successful in the NCAA tournament for a long time, not just 2010 and 2011, but finished runner-up in 1975, 1977, 2002 and 2012, along with 11 trips to the College World Series and 30 appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks have also been NCAA regional champions 16 times. I contend that what really put South Carolina on their way to respect and the ultimate success of National Champion was winning the conference tournament in 2004, and being conference overall champion for the season in 2000, 2002, and 2011. It was not until those successes that the baseball team became one of the best programs in college
baseball. The women’s basketball program has had success over the years as well. It began in the late 70’s and culminated with a trip to the Final Four (before it became such a big deal) in 1980. Since that time South Carolina has been to the NCAA tournament 17 times and returned to the Final Four in 2015. The Gamecocks went to the next level by winning the SEC regular-season in 2014, 2015, and 2016, plus, won the tournament in 2015, and went completely undefeated through the season and tournament in 2016. Dawn Staley’s group is considered one of the top women’s programs in the nation and in my opinion will be the odds on favorite as the preseason #1 in the country next year. Those two programs, baseball and women’s basketball, have earned the respect that they receive. Football is a little different. The run of 11-2 seasons through 2011-2013 put South Carolina at the very least on the map and that’s not to mention the 2010 Eastern Division championAll Gamecock basketball ship, but coverage sponsored by to earn the Yesterdays respect, on
photo by allen sharpe
the national level, an SEC Championship will go a long way toward that. As for men’s basketball, the glory days of the late 60’s and early 70’s is ancient history today. We fondly remember the days of Coach McGuire, but the reality is we have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1973 or been invited since 2004. If we want to gain respect on a national level, win the SEC regular-season, as was done in 1997. Better yet, win the conference tournament championship which has never been done in the SEC by South Carolina, as we did in 1933 in the old Southern Conference, and in 1971 in the ACC. It would also help to win a game or two in the NCAA tournament. I think winning the conference tournament would give the momentum to spring right into the national tournament and keep on winning. The good news is we are knocking on the door. Win your way into the postseason by winning the SEC and we will not trust our destiny in someone else’s hands. Win and you’re in. We have been shown the way before. Time to walk through that door. Respect will be earned.
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