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by brian hand Executive Editor

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urrent Tennessee Titans kicker and former Gamecock Ryan Succop spent some time debating about what he wanted to say, but it always kept coming back to the same thing. “When I thought about coming back and saying a few words, the thing that kept coming to mind was family and how it’s always felt like family here since coach Spurrier’s been here,” Succop said. Succop’s thoughts pretty much summed up what the majority of the former Gamecocks were saying when talking to others at a special 10-year reunion for South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier at Seawell’s on Friday, April 10, 2015. Currently on the roster of the Indianapolis Colts, former South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles said he loved being a Gamecock so much it is hard for him to leave each and every time he has to head back. “When I leave sometimes, I kind of try to tell the pilot to fly over the stadium so I can see it before I leave,” Quarles said. “I love it. There’s no better feeling than to be from South Carolina and play for South Carolina. They say it’s all over with, but it’s never over with. It’s always in your heart.” Spurrier said to the well over 300 former Gamecocks in attendance at the

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reunion that he came to South Carolina for the opportunity to do things that had never been done before. And the HBC and the Gamecocks have done just that. Former Gamecock offensive lineman and eventual Super Bowl champion, Na’Shan Goddard remembers how tough it was for Spurrier when he first took over the program. “When coach Spurrier came in he had a job on his hands and he changed the culture and he changed it fast. The one thing about changing a culture is it’s not always about changing personnel, but changing your mindset, changing the things you do, changing your behavior,” Goddard stated. Goddard said that he made the 2005 Gamecocks believe quickly that they

could compete with anybody. “The main thing I like about (Spurrier) is just changing our culture, changing the way we thought. He changed the way we looked at things,” Goddard said. Former Gamecock wide receiver Moe Brown believes that culture change in 2005 coupled with Spurrier’s first full recruiting class that he was a part of laid the foundation for what was to come with the program. “I like to think that – and maybe I give us too much credit being that we were the first full recruiting class – as kind of the foundation along with 2005 (team) obviously,” Brown noted. “(The players since then) have really taken accountability for the name that’s on the front of the jerseys. To see the heights that it has risen to be one of the most successful

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programs in the last four years is a testament to coach Spurrier’s leadership.” Goddard said one of the big reasons he came to the reunion is so he could meet some of the most recent Gamecocks who were a part of the 40 wins over the course of the last four seasons. “One of the main reasons I came is I wanted to meet some of the younger guys and tell them thank you; thank you for making me proud to wear my Carolina shirt in an airport,” Goddard relayed. Former Gamecock quarterback and current NFL quarterback Connor Shaw was quick to point out that the time before them put the Gamecocks in position to be successful. “For the older guys, the coaches in here, I just want to say thank you for laying the foundation,” Shaw said.

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by brian hand Executive Editor

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outh Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier did not waste any time letting everyone know that he would be following the Gamecocks to the women’s basketball Final Four. Steve and Jerri Spurrier are regulars at South Carolina women’s basketball games and it is no surprise that the Spurriers took the time to support the Gamecocks in the Final Four. The HBC has made trips to Omaha for College World Series and he and Jerri routinely can be seen at Gamecock athletic events in multiple sports. The Spurriers are just huge supporters of all of Gamecock athletics. And they are not the only ones. For example, the South Carolina women’s soccer team last November garnered their first Elite Eight appearance in program history with a thrilling 1-0 Sweet 16 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Nov. 23, 2014. Knowing exactly what it felt like to beat a North Carolina team in the Sweet 16 in the Tar Heel State, the South Carolina women’s soccer team along with head coach Shelley Smith and the coaching staff were in attendance at the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday, March 27, to see the Gamecocks advance to an Elite Eight of their own with a 67-65 win over North Carolina. Coming off three straight wins and with the weekend off, South Carolina softball head coach Beverly Smith and some of her staff were also in attendance to see the Gamecocks best North Carolina. Of

course, Smith and staff were back on Sunday, March 29, to see South Carolina down Florida State, 80-74, to move on to their first Final Four. Also in attendance to see the Gamecocks best the Seminoles was South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin, who drove up that morning with his wife, Anya. Martin even tweeted on his way up to Greensboro that morning “is it just me or is I-77 painted garnet and black?” before following up that tweet when changing highways with “now 1-85 is painted garnet and black too. Wow, is Gamecock Nation strong.” The Martins also of course joined the Spurriers in Tampa to cheer on the Gamecocks. The above are just a few examples as multiple head coaches, administrators and key staff at South Carolina go out of their way daily to make sure all of the Gamecock sports are recognized. It’s something that is fostered by Athletics Director Ray Tanner and all other key staff at South Carolina. At South Carolina they truly know the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley is a big believer in all of this as she routinely can be seen at numerous other Gamecock sporting events as well as is a frequent tweeter supporting all of Gamecock athletics. Obviously with her Gamecocks in the Final Four she received a lot of support, but ever the professional, Staley fully understood the breadth of what the Final Four appearance meant for the University of South Carolina. “It’s all great,” Staley said on Thursday, April 2. “It’s much like when our football team wins 11 games, when they go to a

bowl and they win. Everybody’s happy because it just brings more attention to South Carolina and makes us look good as an overall program and University and anytime you’re able to shed good light on what the University of South Carolina does from an athletic standpoint, I think

it transfers over to the academics because we’re probably one of the schools in the (NCAA) Tournament with a top APR. Not only are we excelling on the court, but they get a glimpse of what our players do off the floor (and) that is excel in the classroom.”

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by Brian hand Executive Editor

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outh Carolina women’s basketball surprised everybody when they said their goal was to win a national championship prior to the start of the 2014-15 season. It was not because everybody considered it an impossibility. Quite the opposite actually. With the best high school player in the country along with one of the top recruiting classes in the country joining Dawn Staley’s rapidly ascending program the assumption was that great things were ahead. Still, South Carolina entered the 201415 season having never advanced past the Sweet 16 under Staley and only once before (2002) having played in an Elite Eight. This team was different though. Staley knew it so the team took on the manta of “one” to show that the national championship was the goal. “One” was much bigger than that though. Staley and the Gamecocks wanted everybody to know they were one cohesive group heading into a year where the whole starting five returned off the defending SEC regular-season championship team and the stout incoming nucleus would obviously want playing time. The questions came quick and fast in the preseason: how are you going to divvy up the minutes? Is A’ja Wilson going to start? Do you really think you have a team capable of winning a national championship? The Gamecocks came out of the gates fast and South Carolina was ranked No. 1 for 12 straight weeks at one point in the 2014-15 season. During all of this, the momentum in the community also began to officially take hold as a program that was fighting to have 5,000 fans inside the Colonial Life Arena each game just one year earlier went on to lead the nation in attendance. South Carolina would go on to successfully defend its regular-season SEC championship before also capturing the program’s first SEC Tournament title by knocking off league standard Tennessee. The Gamecocks would enter the

NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed for the second straight year and host the first two rounds at the Colonial Life Arena. The historic year inside the Colonial Life Arena would continue in the first couple of rounds of the NCAA Tournament with the Gamecocks winning both games in front of the top crowds at all of the regional sites. After easily demolishing Syracuse in the round of 32, South Carolina was able to pick up a thrilling 67-65 win over North Carolina in Greensboro, N.C. in the Sweet 16. The victory came before a crowd in the state of North Carolina that very much favored the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s momentum would see them collect another thrilling win in the Elite Eight with the Gamecocks besting Florida State, 80-74, to move on to the program’s first Final Four in Tampa, Fla. We now know that the Gamecocks’ run ended in the Final Four with Notre Dame holding off South Carolina, 66-65, in the national semifinals.

It was not the end that the Gamecocks long ago had envisioned for themselves. They wanted to be national champions. Plain and simple. Staley and the Gamecocks nevertheless have a ton to be proud of this season: championships, No. 1 rankings, firsts, you name it. If it was not already, South Carolina put itself on the women’s college basketball map this season. The Gamecocks lose key pieces in Aleighsa Welch, Elem Ibiam and Olivia Gaines for the 2015-16 season, but they also return a ton of talent and once again much will be expected from the Gamecocks next year. They will be picked to win the SEC again, they will be a top-5 preseason selection and most will say nothing but the Final Four is acceptable. They’ll say that too. You see, they want that national championship. It will drive them all offseason and into the 2015-16 season and beyond.

“We did a lot of firsts for our program (this year),” Staley said after South Carolina’s loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four. “They have had a very memorable year. And I want us to enjoy the year, but I also want us to have a certain hunger, a certain bad taste in our mouth from experiencing and being so close to competing for a national championship that it will fuel us to be better individually, to be better collectively so we can get back to this point.” The 2015-16 season cannot get here fast enough.

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by brian hand Executive Editor

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rank Martin has one goal that drives him daily. “The only thing that drives me every day – (and) it’s the only thing that’s ever driven me – is to compete for the championship of whatever league you are a part of. That’s the only thing I care about. That means that we’re going to continue to fight to become an SEC champion. That’s our goal. That’s our fight. That’s our drive. And whenever we’re fortunate enough to experience that once, then the drive is going to be to do it again and it’s never going to change,� Martin said. Obviously, South Carolina has not been able to get to that SEC championship in Martin’s first three years at the helm, but the team has been growing each and every year. This past year, South Carolina closed out its year with a 17-16 overall record and having won four of its last six games, which included two wins in the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive year. Now the Gamecocks turn their attention to the offseason and to Martin the offseason goes a long way to the Gamecocks being strong during the regular-season. “I’m going to tell you in a nutshell what I tell our players since I can remember me addressing players: the season is about the team, the offseason is about you,� Martin said. “Don’t come ask me to do things during the season that you don’t want to work on and get better during your season. The offseason is very intense, but very low stress. Very

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intense in teaching, in them making themselves better athletes by how they eat, how they train, building up their bodies, building up their minds just so they become better.� According to Martin, the offseason is focused on whatever a particular player needs to work on to get better. He utilized Sindarius Thornwell and Marcus Stroman as examples. “Sindarius he struggled this year coming off ball screens going with his left hand. He’s got to get better going to his left hand,� Martin said. “Those are the things that we’ve got to use the offseason for because at the end of the day, the formula is not as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. It’s not this fancy play that I can come up with or that I don’t know that Pat Riley does know.� Martin fully understands that if his players are able to put in the work then the group as a whole becomes better as they prepare for the 2015-16 regular-

season. “I know this, if the five guys we put on the court this year, or the seven or 10 or whatever it is, if everyone improves (a little bit more) individually then collectively we improve (a great deal) and that’s what we we’re shooting for is that continued growth,� Martin said. “And once we get into the team season, which is next September, then we start worry-

ing about who are point guard will be and what plays are we going to run because there’s some things that Stroman couldn’t do on the court this year that he might be able to do next October, so my job is to help evolve his game so that we can do more things with him out there. And his job is to listen, learn and then work at it so that he can get confidence in doing it how they’re supposed to do.�

                     

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by kyle heck Reporter

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hen Michael Sullivan moved to Columbia seven years ago, he was excited about moving into a SEC city. However, as an avid women’s basketball fan, he didn’t have much hope for the area. He figured he would have fun watching Tennessee, LSU and the other powers in the league. But then came along Dawn Staley just a short while later to take over the head coaching job at South Carolina. For Sullivan, the hire was a dream come true. He had followed Staley while she played in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting and while she was head coach at Temple. Living in the Washington D.C. area, Sullivan was able to watch her in person when the Owls came to play George Washington. “It was, as I like to say, going to fan heaven,” Sullivan said of the hire. “I was super psyched. She’s got credentials better that just about anybody in the women’s game. And for South Carolina to bring her in was such a far-sighted smart move.” Naturally, Sullivan focused all of his attention on the Gamecocks and Staley when she arrived and watched her take a program that was irrelevant in the SEC all the way up to the class of the league. Sullivan was around for Staley’s first season, when she won just two league games, so it’s particularly refreshing for him to see the success Staley has had recently with winning a regular-season and tournament SEC championship and taking the Gamecocks to the Final Four this year. “It’s been a fantastic, fantastic ride,” Sullivan said. Recently, Sullivan began researching the attendance numbers for South Carolina women’s basketball games. He noticed that there was a significant increase in people coming to the games over the last few years. He didn’t see much about the subject in the news and was curious to find out more. It was something that Sullivan had no problem doing because he is a psychologist and has a particular fondness for statistics. He then found that Twitter was a great medium to use to share his findings and interact with others,

including Staley. her footsteps, they’re going to be at the “She says ‘Mike, you keep me in- pinnacle of their profession. They have formed, I really appreciate that,’” Sulli- a great role model to follow.” van said of Staley. “I love doing it and I As for Sullivan, he has enjoyed followknow she likes getting the information because she is always tweeting it out there. It’s really been special.” Sullivan has enjoyed tracking the attendance numbers and watching them rise steadily over the years. He says a big part of that is because of how much Staley interacts with the fans and the community. Because of that, more and more people want to come out and support her and the Gamecocks. He knows that not a lot of coaches would take the time to talk with him about his research. “She makes everybody feel like they have a stake in the team and she makes everybody feel like they’re important to the team,” Sullivan said. “You can’t beat that - it’s priceless.” Sullivan says that is one of the main reasons he believes that Staley has had a wildly successful career to date. “She’s terrific with people,” Sullivan said. “I mean, you can see it in the way she’s reached out to the community and Columbia. She is just so down to earth and unassuming and so interested in people. That obviously translates to the players. The fact that she cares for them and they know that if they can follow in TM

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ing Staley throughout her entire career and has immensely enjoyed watching her take the Gamecocks to heights that were once no more than a dream.


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he Grand Hyatt Hotel in Tampa had a special visitor at the South Carolina Final Four celebration on Saturday, April 4. Former South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was the host of the celebration and made an appearance at the official reception on the 14th floor of the hotel. One of the first things he did when he spoke to the contingent was congratulate Gamecock fans for pouring into Tampa to support the women’s basketball team. Now with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Jeffery made a special trip down south to celebrate, not only the Gamecocks, but the entire state. “It’s not all about the young ladies, it’s about the whole state of South Carolina,” Jeffery told the crowd. “It’s big for the whole state of South Carolina. I’ve never been a part of a championship team, but it feels like it now.” Jeffery took pictures with fans and also had a special guest of his own; for-

mer Southern California wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who will be taken in this year’s NFL Draft. Agholor said that Jeffery has been like a big brother to him and he wanted to join in the celebration. “I went to the other USC,” Agholor

said. “I really appreciate you guys having me here tonight. You guys are doing an amazing job of supporting the young ladies. South Carolina is a wonderful organization.” Along with Jeffery, members of the women’s basketball team and coach-

ing staff interacted with fans in the lobby, taking pictures and signing autographs. There was a sand sculpture that had the Gamecock logo along with the Final Four emblem. Fans could also buy Final Four t-shirts and memorabilia from a table set up in the lobby. All of that added up to a great night of South Carolina fans enjoying the special moment. “The sky is the limit under coach Staley,” Jeffery said. “What you’ve seen her do since she got here to now, a lot of people wouldn’t have thought that this could be done. God has a plan for everyone and what he’s doing with her is something special.” Jeffery said he decided to hold the event after the Gamecocks punched their ticket to the Final Four, saying he wanted to do something nice for the team. It turned out to be even better than he anticipated and something he was more than happy to do. “It’s always important to give back,” Jeffery said. “I was once in college too.”

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by kyle heck Reporter


to make us what we were.” And now, 40 years later, they came back to be honored in front of the Gameamecock baseball has enjoyed cock faithful on Saturday, March 28, 2015. For Bass, it was his first trip to the new incredible success over the years: 30 NCAA tournament Carolina Stadium, which he said is an appearances that have included 11 trips amazing facility. Bass, who lives in Florida to the College World Series and two na- now, does not get to come up for many tional titles. They have also won three reunions, but he was able to come and reconnect with teammates and coach SEC titles over that span too. But, with the trophy case filling rapidly, Richardson. He said being a Gamecock holds a spethere was one team that helped lay the foundation for the success. The 1975 cial place in his heart and being honored South Carolina team was the first team in with his historic team is amazing. “It’s amazing to visit this stadium for school history to reach the College World Series, in only their second tournament the first time and see what a facility this is,” Bass said. “To do it with a team that appearance ever. They finished national runners-up with is pretty special to me and to Carolina a record of 51-6-1, which still holds up as fans is really an honor. It’s great to see all the school record for winning percent- of my buddies again, some I hadn’t seen age, and ranks second all-time in wins in forty years ... it’s a special, special time.” Richardson, the New York Yankee legduring a season. The team almost reached the College end and 1960 World Series MVP turned World Series the year before, going college coach, helmed the Gamecocks 48-8 but losing to Miami by one run in to Omaha that year and was in attenthe NCAA District III Tournament. Mi- dance for the ceremony. He smiled and ami would go on to become national said he didn’t recognize some of his former players it had been so long, but he runner-up. The Gamecocks, who were led by was happy they were there. His daughter, who served as the batgirl pitcher Earl Bass, decided to come back to school to reach Omaha instead of go- for the team that season, joined Richardson for the ceremony. When the team ing to play professional baseball. “Our junior year we were really close, reached the College World Series, she we just ran up against a Miami team sold her pony so she could accompany the team to the tournament. with a submarine pitcher that Unfortunately, the Colwe couldn’t hit,” Bass said. lege World Series held “We had most of the guys a contest to select batstay. I had an opportuboys for each team so nity to sign professionshe could not join the ally, but we all decided team out there. to stay and come back. Richardson laughed We knew we had a good All Gamecock baseball and said, “I’ve been tryteam and knew that coverage sponsored ing to make up for it for coach [Bobby] Richardson by DiPrato’s forty years.” would bring in the pieces

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While many have gone their separate ways – Bass owns his own restaurant, others have become pastors, gone into other fields or played in the major league – they were happy to be back together as a team and with the Gamecock faithful. Richardson said reconnecting with his players was his favorite part and participating in events like this just shows how important the foundation and alumni

are for a storied baseball program. “It’s fun to come back and connect,” Richardson said. “We all remember the fun and the times we had, but to come back and see each other makes for a good thing. I’m just glad that since (Athletics Director and former head baseball head coach) Ray Tanner has taken over he has involved the alumni in a wonderful way.”

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by collyn taylor Reporter


by Brian hand Executive Editor

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wo-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw decided that the 2015 Masters would be his final one in the annual event. A 19-time winner on the PGA Tour, Crenshaw realizes that it is the perfect time for him to step away from the game he loves. Crenshaw obviously put together one of the better careers in golf history, but he did it in a different era with his last Masters win coming in 1995. At his final pre-Masters press conference on Tuesday, April 8, 2015, Crenshaw let it be known that he could not even fathom having to deal with the pressures that the current cropping of players on the PGA Tour deal with. “All top players these days are under immense scrutiny,” Crenshaw said. “I’m from a different era, but I can’t even believe what is happening now … it’s a completely different world now.”

Crenshaw’s assertions are spot-on and it is not just professionals that have to deal with this type of scrutiny. In our 24-hour news cycle, college student-athletes are subjected to everything from not only the newspapers, the websites, television and radio, but also on different social media sites. The pressures are immense. Coaches, administrators and many more at all levels of college athletics have to deal with these pressures as well. All of these pressures and much more come into play in the world of recruiting. Success for any college program all boils down to recruiting. No matter if you are the top team in the country or one of the lowliest programs in the country, for any program to have sustained success they have to have elite recruiting. Almost seven years older than Crenshaw, South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier fully understands this as lately the Gamecock football program has

taken important steps to help showcase their program to prep stars not only in the state and the region, but throughout the nation. The HBC was recently asked about this at the Sumter County Gamecock Club spring banquet on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. He assured everyone in attendance the Gamecocks were keeping up with the top programs in the country in this capacity. “Our sport is all about recruiting as you know. We know that and we’re adding all those new things everyone is doing,” Spurrier told the crowd. Spurrier’s answer to the question is more than evident through South Carolina’s efforts with their Twitter handle @ GamecockFB, the #HereSC hashtag along with the normal #Gamecocks hashtag. South Carolina football is also on Snapchat (@gamecockfbsnap), on Facebook (Gamecock Football) and instagram (gamecockfb). Plus, much more. South Carolina’s official football website

(www.gamecockfb.com) is an absolute goldmine of information on why anyone should be a Gamecock. Plus, the program readily uses South Carolina’s official athletic website www.GamecocksOnline. com to further accentuate everything that happens with Gamecock football. Gamecock football is also putting out specially designed videos, graphics and more focusing on what makes South Carolina football one of the best programs in the country as well. Oh, and there is that other little thing of the HBC himself joining Twitter himself recently (@SC_HBC). All of this is just the beginning and to show that South Carolina football is putting its best foot forward in trying to position the program to recruits as well as fans. Spurrier always calls football the “ultimate team sport” and it truly is with the HBC summing it up beautifully to the Gamecocks at the Sumter County Gamecock Club spring banquet: “together we can get a lot of good stuff done.”


by Kyle Heck Reporter

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son, it will be one that fans remem- tober regardless of who’s in the Final static. Hopefully, South Carolina fans ber for a long time. And despite the Four, but it is just a huge benefit that start getting into that mindset of ‘hey, loss, fans had plenty of things to do South Carolina is here and I’m ec- we’re going to be there.’” over the weekend while in Tampa, whether it was watch live concerts, get autographs from members of the team, or watch the bands of the four schools battle it out. “It reminds me of a bowl week for football,” McFarland said. “People have been able to spend three or four days just participating in excitShop now at: Smithandjames.com ing activities and that excitement just FREE SHIPPING for orders over $75 using the code SHIPFREE! increased as the week went along. I think that is what the Final Four is all about.” As tipoff approached, the majority of the fans at Hattricks walked or drove over to the arena to get to their seats. They made their presence felt during the game cheering on the Gamecocks, who nearly pulled off an amazing comeback against the Irish. Even with the loss, Rossilli says she has thoroughly enjoyed watching the amount of support Gamecock Nation has shown to women’s basketball. She also knows that there is a very good chance that this won’t be the only year she gets to cheer on her team in the Final Four. “When the expectation is there, there is no hesitation to buy tickets,” Rossilli said. “I buy my tickets in Oc-

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fter turning out in droves for the Greensboro Regional, Gamecock fans did the same in Tampa for the NCAA Final Four. A few hours before South Carolina battled Notre Dame in the national semifinals, Gamecock fans gathered at Hattricks Tavern, just a short walk away from Amalie Arena, to get ready for the pivotal battle against the Irish. Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland said that fans were at the tavern at noon, two hours before the party started and six and a half hours before the game started. “It just speaks to the support and excitement that Gamecock fans have for our women’s basketball team,” said McFarland, who compared it to the excitement fans had for the baseball team when it won back-to-back national titles and appeared in three straight College World Series finals. After leading the nation in average attendance, it was little surprise that South Carolina fans filled up Hattricks. For a lot of fans, the celebration was a long time coming. Some had been coming to Final Fours for years before this, but had never gotten to cheer on the Gamecocks. However, that was obviously a much different case in Tampa in 2015. “We’ve been (at the Final Four) for the last three years now and it is really special for us to have Carolina here this year so that we are able to support our own team,” said Jama Waters, a resident of Ridgeway and former South Carolina softball player. Vona Rossilli, a teammate of Waters on the softball team, came all the way from San Diego to watch South Carolina play and both she and Waters have been huge supporters of head coach Dawn Staley. “We have such a great women’s program,” said Rossilli. “Dawn has just done phenomenal work with the team. There is people from all over the country supporting us. They want us to do well.” While the Gamecocks fell short against Notre Dame to end their sea-


by kyle heck Reporter

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ow that the Garnet and Black spring game is over, that means it is officially the end of spring practice. South Carolina has had nearly a month of practicing and scrimmaging to implement a new defense and get acquainted with a lot of new faces. As a whole, the coaching staff was pleased with how the spring went. The most important thing happened, which was that everyone got better. The main storyline of the spring was new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke and his new defense, which he spent all of the spring introducing. Because of the unfamiliarity, the defense only ran two coverages in the spring game. Hoke wanted to make sure that his players knew exactly what to do in the coverages before they move on to something new. As for his first spring, Hoke was happy to adjust to his new job.

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“It was good for me personally to get to know the players,” Hoke said. “It was great for me to watch the staff interact with the players and teach. We have a lot of good teachers on the coaching staff and that was exciting to see.” Hoke added later, “watching the players get better every day; that was a big plus for me. I thought we improved and kept improving from an effort standpoint, assignment standpoint and technique standpoint.” The improvement showed in the spring game. Although both teams had over 300 yards of offense, the defense allowed just two touchdowns and 27 total points. They made plays when they needed to most and safety Jasper Sasser was one of the standouts, recording two interceptions, one of which came in the redzone. “He’s had a good spring,” Hoke said. “We keep track of takeaways every day and he might lead the team in takeaways. He’s around the football quite a bit.” “There was some good hustle out

there,” said head coach Steve Spurrier. “I think the defense looked good playing just two coverages. There were no mistakes.” As for the offense, all three of the quarterbacks that played had very similar, solid games. Connor Mitch, Michael Scarnecchia and Perry Orth all completed at least 50 percent of their passes for a combined 511 yards.

Young receivers like Deebo Samuel and Terry Googer stepped up as well and the offense as a whole played well, despite having just six healthy offensive lineman. Samuel had over 100 yards receiving and Googer had the game-winning touchdown reception. “All those guys are pretty good,” said Spurrier of the receivers. “I think Deebo at times, he shows some big play potential, so we know he is going to play.” With the end of the semester drawing near, Spurrier is hoping his team can do what it needs to do academically and continue making progress as summer practices close in. The Gamecocks will add several more freshmen in the summer, including quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, who Spurrier says will jump right in the quarterback competition. “We’re ready to get into the summer and finish out the semester academically as strong as we can,” Spurrier said.

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holes,” Kelly said. “If it’s really hot, your blood sugar can swing very quickly. Your blood sugar can go from 150 to 60 in 20 minutes, so you just have to stay on top of it. It’s never gotten where I felt like I would pass out on the golf course. I always make sure I have Gatorade around and that sort of thing. If you don’t pay attention, you can start to shake or have blurred vision. You can have trouble focusing. It’s a weird feeling. I haven’t had a really bad episode since I was very young, so I try to maintain it pretty well.” Kelly also maintains a great work ethic in the classroom and has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll every year since coming to South Carolina. Golf is somewhat unique in intercollegiate athletics as there is a fall season and a spring season. “Missing class is tough with all the travel,” Kelly said. “We play a lot of Monday and Tuesday events. Time management is very important. Growing up, I was always pretty studious.” This certainly makes his parents proud, and there is definitely reciprocity there as Kelly’s father, Tim, attends most of South Carolina’s tournaments and serves as his role model. “He’s the best guy I know,” Kelly said. “He was a fireman in New York. He retired just before 9/11, but he responded during the second search and rescue. After the initial response, they had lost so many firefighters, they rounded up a lot of the retirees and off-duty guys and they went in to do search and rescue. I was really young when that happened. He has a lot of stories. If you ask my team, they’ll tell you I have a whole wardrobe that’s either fire department, Yankees, or New York Rangers shirts.” When he’s not playing golf, Kelly likes to head to the ice rink in nearby Irmo to play hockey, but it was another winter sport that was his passion early in his life. “I used to skate all the time because it

was good cross-training for ski racing,” Kelly said. “I first got on skis when I was four years old. I was on the race team when I was five, and I did that until I was 15. My dad got me into that. That was a really fun experience. When I was very young, I wanted to be an Olympic skier, but as I progressed, I felt that there would be fewer knee injuries in golf. I thought there might be a better future with that. I had some pretty gnarly crashes skiing, but I walked away from all of them, fortunately.” While his golf coaches are probably pleased that he doesn’t frequent the slopes right now, it was a golf-related injury that kept him out of competition

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tanding over a putt from ten feet away on the final hole with the tournament on the line isn’t something that is likely to phase Sean Kelly. The redshirt junior on South Carolina’s golf team is an honor roll student, a former competitive snow ski racer, has overcome an injury that caused him to miss a full year of competition and has been living with Type 1 diabetes since age five, but he doesn’t allow that condition to define him. “It’s not about being known as the golfer who is a diabetic,” Kelly said. “I’d like to use it for all the positive that I can. If I can help somebody that is struggling with it, then that’s great. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable to talk about it.” Originally from Staten Island, New York, Kelly moved to Florida when he was 15 to attend the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and was recruited to play at South Carolina. While he enjoys living in the South, there is still a lot of home in him. “The weather is great and there is a lot of great golf here,” Kelly said. “Saturdays during football season are a lot of fun here in Columbia too. I like to think of it as a gradual transition to living in the South. Florida is sort of the South, but not really. I’m a really proud New Yorker. I love telling people about that. Staten Island isn’t like Manhattan, but there is always something going on. I still haven’t said `y’all’ once, but the people are really nice here, so it’s great.” Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. As a result, Kelly must constantly monitor his blood sugar. “It’s just something you have to deal with,” Kelly said. “There are a lot of worse things out there. With the research nowadays, it’s not so bad for me. I monitor my blood sugar five or six teams each day. I do a finger prick to check it. Whenever I eat, I have to monitor my level and try to keep my blood sugar stable. I stay away from real sugary stuff like soda and desserts.” Kelly spent much of his life using an insulin pump, but now he takes insulin injections when needed. Being out on the golf course for several hours at a time, Kelly must not only stay focused on his game, he also has to pay attention to his body. “I’ll check my blood sugar every few

last year. “We were playing at the NCAA regional in Ohio during my sophomore year,” Kelly recalled. “I picked up my club and out of the blue, I had this sharp pain in my wrist. I never had anything like that before. They treated it for a few months, and I had an MRI that didn’t show anything. I went to a specialist, and they did some exploratory surgery and found I had a torn ligament.” After rehabilitating last year, it took a while for Kelly get back into the swing of things. “It affected my game a pretty significant amount,” Kelly said. “I’m just getting back to where I’m really comfortable and trusting everything and not expecting pain when I hit the ball. I’m a good ball striker. I always hit a lot of fairways and greens. I need to improve some of my short game, like chipping.” So far, so good for his 2014-2015 season. Kelly has played in eight tournaments for the Gamecocks this year with a 72.71 stroke average with four top twenty finishes, including one top ten finish. The Gamecocks are ranked in the top ten in the nation and at one point this year had won three consecutive tournaments.


by brian hand Executive Editor

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urrent South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner remembers the moment he found out that Steve Spurrier had decided to become the head coach of Gamecock football vividly. “In the fall of 2004, I was sitting with my coaches one day and we got word that coach Spurrier was coming to Columbia and I looked at the coaches and I said, ‘gentleman, we just got better today.’ And they said, ‘what do you mean?’ And I said, ‘we just got better. We’ve got a coach that’s coming here to win games. He’s not coming here to retire. He’s coming here to win and our credibility is instant and it helps all of us: the University and our entire athletics department,’” Tanner, who was then the head baseball coach at South Carolina, said. Tanner fondly spoke these words to the well over 300 former Gamecocks who were in attendance as part of a special 10-year Spurrier-era reunion at Seawell’s on Friday, April 10, 2015. “The last 10 years have been very, very special. The whole culture is different. The mindset is different. We’re relevant,” Tanner said. According to South Carolina Special Assistant for Development Clyde Wrenn a total of 453 players have suited up for Spurrier over the last 10 years, meaning the outpouring of support was overwhelming to the Head Ball Coach and his wife, Jerri. The reception featured the former Gamecocks hanging out and talking with one another with videos of their heroics on the gridiron playing in the background. Showcased around the room were team photos of all of the 10 teams and on some of the tables were newspaper clippings and more from over the course of the past 10 years. Former South Carolina quarterback great and current “Voice of the Gamecocks” Todd Ellis was the emcee for the evening once the formal program began that featured Ellis and Tanner each

talking before giving way to the HBC. In addition, former Gamecocks and current/former NFL players Na’Shan Goddard, Ryan Succop and Connor Shaw talked about what coach Spurrier meant to them and the program. Before Spurrier took the stage, he took the time to recognize the family – which included his son, Keon – of former Gamecock wide receiver Kenny McKinley. They also presented the McKinley family with a framed portrait. At a podium behind all the numerous trophies the Gamecocks have won over the last 10 years, Spurrier closed out his time talking to his former players and even a few of his current players that were in attendance by saying “I just want to thank all you guys that have played the last 10 years … all of you players here are members of the winningest decade in South Carolina football history.” In turn, the winningest quarterback in Gamecock history during his time talking thanked the HBC for everything he has done to make the last 10 years the winningest decade. “I want to say thank you for not only doing what you did with my career, but everybody in here. And what you did for this University that will last forever,” Shaw said. Spurrier and Ellis also thanked Jerri, Libby Anne Inabinet (mother of former Gamecock long snapper Walker Inabinet), Tammy Thompson (mother of former Gamecock quarterback Dylan Thompson) and Wrenn for their efforts to make the evening possible. The efforts of Jerri in particular were a constant on the evening from all the players in attendance. “Being from a coach’s family, I know who exactly holds everything together in the family and (she is) like a mother to me and everybody else in here. I just want to thank you as well,” Shaw said during the event. Former Gamecock wide receiver Moe Brown said even before the event commenced that Jerri meant the world to all of the former and current players. “How great is Mrs. Spurrier? She is

everyone’s mom. She gives us cookies on our birthday and she’s not only going to hug you, she’s going to give you a kiss on the cheek. Mrs. Spurrier – or

Jerri as she tells us to call her – she’s an amazing woman and she is definitely the backbone that keeps coach Spurrier upright,” Brown said.

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arch of 2015 was National Athletic Training Month. The special month-long look into athletic training is important because most people see athletic trainers on the field, but they don’t really know what they are doing. National Athletic Training Month aims to spread awareness and this year’s motto for the month was “We prepare - you perform.” “We always have to prepare for worstcase scenarios,” South Carolina athletic trainer Rachel Sharpe said. “That’s why so many of us are here a lot because what if something happens on the field, in the weight room? We’ve got to have enough people to take care of that.” South Carolina Sports Medicine is blessed with numerous athletic trainers who daily work extremely hard to make sure Gamecock student-athletes have everything they need. There is no true normal day for athletic trainers, but during March spring football started up and Sharpe broke down what it is like for an athletic trainer who covers football. “Today (Wednesday, March 25) we don’t have practice, but we had workouts at 6 a.m., so somebody had to be here at 5:30 a.m. to put the coolers in the

weight room so they can stay hydrated. We then make sure nothing goes on during workouts and then we schedule their rehabs (if they have them) around their classes,” Sharpe said. Sharpe and the other athletic trainers have to work around the incredibly tough daily schedule for Gamecock football student-athletes. “If you think about it with these guys, they have class, lift, study hall, meetings with their coaches and then days when we have practice. We have to fit it in and a lot of times we’re the most flexible because we do one-on-one instead of group settings and obviously they can’t change their class time. We ask them the day before when they can come in. We have their class schedules on the wall so we can know when they are available. We schedule their times around that,” Sharpe relayed. With so much treatment and other things going on, Sharpe admits it is tough to focus on the small things such as paperwork, but the athletic trainers nevertheless find the time. “Typically we probably get a couple hours around lunch to make sure we’ve got paperwork taken care of, got our rehab sheets, any emails I’ve got to check and then in the afternoon around 1 p.m. they’ll usually start coming back in,” Sharpe mentioned. “We usually try to shut down around 4 on a day where they don’t have practice because we’re here crazy hours when they do have practice.” On a practice day during the spring for South Carolina football then there are other variables that come into play. “If it is a practice day, the meetings (start) at 2:45, so we start taping at 1:30. They then go to meetings at 2:45. While they are in meetings, our graduate assistants and student help are on-field making sure they’ve got everything taken care of out there and we stay in here and do some last-minute stuff and then we go out to

practice at 4. And for practice, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the hydration, the water, our emergency stuff, cold tub for if somebody gets overheated, our ice boxes are full, the power’s working to the iceboxes, the water is potable (safe to drink),” Sharpe noted. As mentioned, athletic trainers have to be prepared for any scenario, but as one would expect they hope for everything to go perfectly in practices and in games. “At practice, hopefully we’re bored out of our minds because that means nothing is going on,” Sharpe mused. “If something happens we take care of it from there. Thankfully we have EMS crew on sight, especially when we have fans out there just in case something was to happen to a fan. If we need them they’re there. After practice we do any ice, cold tub (needed for student-athletes). We don’t do a lot of actual treatment after practice. If something happens after practice that needs to be treated right away, we’ll do something. As soon as we get them all out and get home, we start all over again the next day.” South Carolina has one of the top athletic training programs in the country, but it takes a great deal of coordination and effort from numerous individuals

as noted. “Clint (Haggard), Daryl (Faulkner) and myself are our (football athletic training) staff and then we have graduate assistants, but they’re in school as well, so they’re in class some of those times,” Sharpe said. “But having (a great deal of help) allows us to rotate our schedules so we’re not all coming in at 5:30 in the morning. Daryl covered it this morning (Wednesday, March 25). I’ll do it on Monday (March 30), so that’s good. It keeps us sane. It also allows us to handle more athletes at one time. When all of us are here we can have 10, 12-to-15 athletes and we can still be paying attention to what they’re doing. “When we get to practice we’ve actually got 15 students that rotate through during season and they help us so much. They can’t do treatments and stuff like that, so they help us with the field setup and hydration and that kind of stuff that they haven’t learned how to do yet in class as far as treatments. And that’s a huge help. I hope they know how thankful we are,” Sharpe continued. To learn more about South Carolina Sports Medicine, please visit www. gamecocksonline.com/school-bio/ sports-medicine.


by brian hand Executive Editor

K

atie Burnett is not one for idle time. “I don’t like to be bored. I like the busy lifestyle,” Burnett said recently. Burnett’s fondness for hard work and being busy has led to her not only working to hone her own game, but helping others become better golfers in her hometown of Brunswick, Ga. In the latter part of 2014, Burnett hosted a golf clinic for juniors in the Brunswick area. She had such a blast working with the junior girls, she decided to invite some of them to come out and watch her in action in the first LPGA event of the season at the Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers in Ocala, Fla. Burnett did not play the best golf of her career in the event as she missed the cut. This made for a unique opportunity though for the individuals who had come down to watch her play as they had the chance to watch the event with an LPGA player. “It went great,” Burnett said. “They had a lot of fun. Of course, I would have liked to be inside the ropes, but (missing the cut) did give me more of an opportunity to talk to them than I probably would have had otherwise. So that was good. We followed two of my friends on tour and then I actually took one of the girls in with me as my guest into dining, which she thought was pretty cool.” The group of juniors and the LPGA player also followed Paula Creamer after lunch. “We went out and followed Paula Creamer and Paula actually gave one of her balls to one of the girls and she was ecstatic about that. Then I got Paula to sign that ball after her round. So they had a good bit of fun. They watched golf and then we went to dinner. We had a good time. It was a good,” Burnett said. After the first event of the year, one of the girls texted Burnett and mentioned that her high school team had a match in the near future. Once again, these girls were given a real treat as an LPGA player showed up to their match. The match unfortunately

did not happen, but because of this the Brunswick High School girls golf team had the chance to work with a two-time All-American. “I’ve been helping out the women’s golf team at my high school,” Burnett mentioned. “One of the girls who was at my clinic who also came down for the first tournament in Florida, she’s a junior in high school. She mentioned to me they had a match and I didn’t tell her I was going to go, but I ended up showing up at her match and she was pretty excited about it, but the other team did not bring their girls so they did not have a match that day. I ended up kind of walking around with them for five holes and since then I’ve been helping them out. They need all the help they can get and I’m happy to help.” The South Carolina golfing legend since the first event of the year has been playing solid golf. In fact, at the Kia Classic she finished in the top-20. “The first two events, I think I was just a little rusty because I had a few injuries in the offseason. I would take a week off here and there and then I had my wisdom teeth out and I took another week off. I really wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been for the first few events, but the (next) three went a lot better as far as my ball-striking and my mental game,” Burnett said. Burnett’s efforts have led to more sponsors and much more. She and her team have been working hard to allow people to get to know her as an indi-

vidual. One of the most important ways is through Burnett’s official website, which is a unique way for her to keep up with her as a golfer and an individual. “With my website, I would like to make it a little bit more interactive. I have plenty of videos from my travels that I

would like to post. It’s a better way to market myself so people get to know me a little bit better than just a twitter account,” Burnett said. To learn more about Burnett, please visit www.KatieBurnettGolf.com. You can also follow here on Twitter at @ KatieBurnett44.

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by brian hand Executive Editor

S

ome NFL Draft analysts have A.J. Cann going in the first round. Others early to mid-second

round. Cann is not shy about wanting to be a first round selection, but he admits he’ll be happy no matter what to get his spot in the NFL.

“It definitely would (hurt to not be a first round selection). It definitely would, but you hear all the different things: first round, second round, but you know I’m going to get drafted, that’s the biggest thing and I’ll be happy wherever I go,” Cann said. After a fairly solid performance at the NFL Scouting C o m b i n e e a rlier this year, Cann wanted to use South Carolina’s annual Pro Day on

Wednesday, April 1, at Williams-Brice Stadium as a chance to improve upon some of his numbers. And he did just that as the offensive guard prospect who is labeled by Mike Huguenin of NFL.com as possibly the “best pure guard” in the 2015 NFL Draft improved his bench press by four reps. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Cann had 26 reps in the 225-pound bench press, but he finished 30 reps on the bench at South Carolina’s Pro Day. “I knew I was stronger than that (at combine), so I came back and I wanted to hit at least 30 or more and I hit 30,” Cann, who was listed at 6-foot-2 and 5/8 and 310 pounds at South Carolina’s Pro Day, said. Despite improving in the weight room and other areas during the first part of Pro Day, Cann’s day was marred

somewhat due to him aggravating his left calf once again. It was the same calf he tweaked at the NFL Scouting Combine. The numerous NFL Scouts in attendance told the Bamberg, S.C. native not to worry and just to stay focused on getting healthy. “Most of them told me it was no biggie. (They said they) got plenty of film (on me). They all know I’m a great player and they are not worried about anything,” Cann relayed. The 2015 NFL Draft will kick off on Thursday, April 30, and right now Cann does not know where he will be watching the draft, but he does know it will be the actualization of a dream. “(There) might be some tears of joy,” Cann stated. “I’ll be happy. It’s something every kid has dreamt about and it’s something I definitely dreamt about and I can’t wait for it to come.” Cann also knows that no matter what the team that takes him will be getting a great player. “Any team is going to be happy to have me,” Cann said.


by andy demetra Contributing Writer

J

ack Wynkoop grew up on waves almost as much as he grew up on mounds. The Gamecocks’ junior pitcher is an avid surfer, a passion he first picked up from his Dad, JC, when their family lived in Venice Beach, Calif. Baseball may have paved his way to USC, but the 6’5” lefthander from Virginia Beach, Va., still hasn’t shaken his love for

riding waves. “No matter what I got going on on land, as soon as I get in the water I’m not worried about it,” Wynkoop said, the surfer’s vibe evident in his laid-back demeanor (not to mention the Andy Irons hat perched atop his head). “Riding waves is fun, man. It’s not really something you can describe. It’s kind of something you’ve got to feel,” he explained. Wynkoop may also be the only SEC

pitcher who doubles as a private surf instructor. He says he first started helping a pair of Virginia Beach-area surf instructors, Ken Hunt and Jason Borte, when he was 12 years old, dragging boards for them at their Billabong-sponsored surf camps. The instructors were both friends of his Dad growing up. Wynkoop’s volunteering, plus his precociousness on the water, led to a job as a camp instructor with them. Even with the demands of Division I

baseball, Wynkoop still sneaks in a lesson or two for family friends when he comes home. “The smile you see on people’s faces when they ride their first wave and get up is always awesome for me, whether it’s a kid or an adult,” explained Wynkoop. At 6’5,” he also may be one of the tallest riders around. “In Virginia Beach the waves are small, and you see all these little kids out there that weigh 100 pounds flipping around.


I take him out at least once a summer,” Wynkoop said. “He comes down with his Mom, and we hang out on the beach and catch a few waves.” Wynkoop still stays in touch with his family, and marvels at Kian’s progress. “He’s definitely getting to be a pretty experienced surfer. It’s cool to watch him grow. I’m really just fortunate that I get to be around people like that, and get to use surfing as a way to help people out, because it’s done so much for me,” he said. Wynkoop spent part of his winter break surfing with his Dad in Puerto Rico, but for now the waves can wait. As a junior, Wynkoop is eligible this summer for the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft. His numbers (3.20 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 9 walks through April 12) and three-year starting experience in the SEC have surely attracted the attention of Major League scouts. With his smooth, controlled style – not unlike the way he surfs - Wynkoop may soon have to consider singing a professional contract. Pitching or catching (waves). Wherever Jack Wynkoop’s future lies, you’ll know where to find him.

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I definitely like surfing when I’m in better waves. I’m sure it looks a little funny,” he joked. Surfing has opened up other doors for him. For his senior project at Cape Henry Collegiate High School, Wynkoop participated in Wave Warriors, a program that teaches wounded war veterans and their families how to surf. Wynkoop would take service members, some of whom had lost limbs or suffered traumatic brain injuries, out onto the water and show them the ropes. He still recalls the experience vividly. “Just being around those men and women was really special for me, seeing how happy they were getting in the water,” Wynkoop said. He also used surfing to develop a bond with Kian, a young man in his mid-20’s from Chesapeake, Va. Wynkoop first met Kian, who’s on the autism spectrum, while working at Hunt and Borte’s surf camp, taking him out to the side for private instruction. Their relationship has since blossomed from a teacher and pupil to friends. “He’s a super-cool dude. He really enjoys getting out in the water and surfing.


by Brian hand Executive Editor

I

t’s rare when you get the opportunity to go through the process of looking for your first job out of college with one of your best friends. But that is exactly what former South Carolina standouts Dylan Thompson and Nick Jones are trying to do right now. “I’m unemployed right now, so we’re just trying to get a job. That’s what I’m looking forward to is just getting an opportunity and getting a good chance to go in and compete,” Thompson said after finishing his workouts at South Carolina’s annual Pro Day on Wednesday, April 1, at Williams-Brice Stadium. Thompson concluded his lone season as the full-time starter at quarterback for the Gamecocks in the 2014 season with a school single-season record of 3,564 yards passing. He averaged 274.2 yards passing per game and threw 26 touchdowns. Jones was second among all Gamecocks in the 2014 season with 42 receptions. The wide receiver amassed 504 yards receiving last year, while also collecting five touchdowns. Both from the Upstate of South Carolina, Thompson and Jones had one final chance to play pitch and catch at Williams-Brice Stadium during Pro Day and it was something they relished. “It’s awesome, man,” Thompson relayed. “We’ve known each other since we were eight, nine years old, so to be able to just go through the process with someone from that young all the way up has been a blessing and Nick’s an awesome guy. I’ll miss playing with him.” Thompson conceded it was truly a little bit surreal. “It’s fun. It’s a great opportunity.

Nick is an awesome guy, an awesome friend and that’s what I remember him as more so than as a teammate. We’ll always have a great relationship,” the Boiling Springs High School product commented. Jones agreed with Thompson. “That’s my best friend,” the Byrnes High School product said. “It was just fun going out here one more time and we wanted to end it with a bang.” And end with a bang they did as both felt like they gave themselves a great chance to maybe have a shot at getting

drafted or hopefully earning a spot in a preseason NFL camp. “I think I helped myself a lot,” Jones stated. “I’ve been hearing a lot of good things from coaches that have been saying great catch or you ran a great time. I felt like it was a good day.” Both were solid in the 40-yard-dash where both accomplished their goals in front of the numerous scouts in attendance. Thompson wanted to run under a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and did just that with an unofficial time of 4.68. Jones wanted to run in the high 4.3s or

low 4.4s and was able to do that as well as he posted an unofficial time of 4.38. Thompson had been working at the IMG Academy in Brandenton, Fla. to get ready for the annual Pro Day event and he felt like he accomplished all he was working on as the quarterback listed at 6-foot-1 and 3/4 said he was just trying to show teams “that I was more athletic than they thought that I was and that I was accurate. I felt like I did those two things. I felt good.” The ball never hit the ground for Thompson and unofficial statistics had him going 41-of-41 on the day. “At the end of the day as a quarterback if you do that (never let the ball hit the ground), you’re in good shape and that was what we wanted to do. We wanted to have a clean day,” Thompson said. Jones had been prepping at TNT Sports in Williamston, S.C. to get ready for the Pro Day and said that he had been “working my butt off every day and hopefully it showed out here.” Most don’t believe that Thompson and Jones will get drafted, but the duo are working hard every day to get the opportunity to prove people wrong. “I’m a guy if you’re putting money on the line, you’re probably not having it on me right now, but that’s fine with me. I want to go to a camp and earn a job and just be in whatever position I can to succeed and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Thompson said. Listed at 5-foot-7, Jones says it is “all about football” for him right now and that once again he is out to prove everyone wrong. “I’ve been under the radar all my life, dating back from high school and then coming here (South Carolina). A lot of people thought I was just here because of Marcus (Lattimore) and I just wanted to showcase my abilities and my talents (at Pro Day) and show them that I can play football.”


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that Deebo would have some pretty good talent,” quarterback Perry Orth said. “He’s taken ownership of the position they’ve put him at and he hasn’t looked back since day one. He’s a pretty talented receiver and he’s going to help us this season for sure.” This kind of spring wouldn’t have been possible without him sitting out his first year at Carolina, where he said he took the opportunity to learn from older guys and really get to know the playbook. “It’s a chance for you to get better,” Samuel said. “It’s a chance for you to learn from watching other people. You can learn from them. That was a great chance for me to learn the playbook as I redshirted.” Now, Samuel goes into the summer almost having locked up a wide receiver spot. Spurrier said Samuel should take this time to keep getting better. “I think Deebo at times shows big play potential. We know he’s going to play and Pharoh Cooper is going to play,” Spurrier said. “They’ve had spring ball now. They know the patterns and know what they need to work on. It’s always amazing how much better a player can become from April to August. We’ll see how they all report in August ready to go.”

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A lot can happen in a year, especially in football. That showed during South Carolina’s annual Spring Game as Deebo Samuel lit up the field with his blazing speed and grasp of the playbook. The blazing-fast wide receiver is entering his first playing year after redshirting this past season. He will most likely see significant playing time alongside Pharoh Cooper as a starting wide receiver when the season begins, according to head coach Steve Spurrier. He said he wanted to use spring practice and the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 11, as a springboard to help launch him into the starting role. “Ever since the winter, I’ve been working hard trying to get in better shape,” Samuel said. “I’ve been working in the weight room, on the field, off the field, catching extra balls after workouts and meeting with coach every chance I get.” It seems to have paid off. Samuel contributed in a big way for both the Garnet and the Black teams as he caught three passes, each of which was over 20 yards, for a grand total of 94 yards. On his first catch of the day, he caught a crossing route and was able to bolt past the defenders and tiptoe along the sideline for an extra five yards before being pushed out. A body type like former Gamecock wide receiver Damiere Byrd, Samuel is a short wide out who can blow past most defenders as if they were standing still. That explosive speed was evident to the coaching staff throughout spring practice and he was awarded the offensive “Big Play” Award for the spring at halftime Saturday. Linebacker Skai Moore won it for the defense. “We knew coming into the spring


by Brian Hand Executive Editor

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my Collinsworth was the epitome of a true student-athlete during her time at the University of South Carolina. In fact, Collinsworth’s efforts on the court for the Gamecock volleyball program still rank high in the record book as her 475 total career blocks from 199093 are still third in program history. The 6-foot middle blocker from Fort Wayne, Ind. was just as strong in the classroom where she was an Honors College student who was also a threetime SEC Academic Honor Roll member. After graduating from South Carolina in 1995, Collinsworth moved on to Duke where she picked up her Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering. From there, she would go on to work for Duke for 12 years. Collinsworth was doing exactly what she had envisioned up to this point in time in her life. “I played volleyball in college, went to grad school and earned my Ph.D. I took a great job at Duke and meanwhile still traveled all over the world to scuba dive,” Collinsworth said.

a son. After her son was born in January of 2014, she began having a migraine every day a few months later in the summer. “I had excruciating migraines every day all summer after my baby was born. In September I ended up in the ER and that’s how I found out about my tumor,” Collinsworth said. What Collinsworth found out completely changed the lives of her children and her family forever. She had Stage IV Glioblastoma.

‘It just started with migraines’ After completing all her studies, traveling to dive and many years of working, Collinsworth began thinking about becoming a single mother by choice. “I chose to have two children on my own,” Collinsworth said. “It took me over four years of discerning and prayer and talking with people to decide whether I thought that was fair to the children, whether I had the time and resources, but I felt quite led and confident. I became a mom when I was 37 and being a mom absolutely is the best thing in my life. I love it. I knew right away that this is what I was made for,” Collinsworth said. Collinsworth has both a daughter and

‘I love, love, love being their mom’ According to the American Brain Tumor Association, Glioblastomas (GBM) are tumors that arise from astrocytes — the star-shaped cells that make up the “glue-like,” or supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a large network of blood vessels. Glioblastomas are generally found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, but can be found anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. Collinsworth says that the median life expectancy for Stage IV Glioblastoma is 14-15 months. A survival rate after five

years is five percent. It was the middle of September of 2014 that Collinsworth officially found out her diagnosis. “I’ve already had four months of chemo and now I’m at the end of radiation and then we’ll start chemo again, which I think goes another 8-12 months. It’s a very long regimen. Its not a cure. It’s a protocol to buy you time. The hope is that the tumor keeps responding to the chemo,” Collinsworth relayed. Obviously an incredibly well-educated individual, Collinsworth says that since finding out in the middle of September the whole experience has nevertheless been a learning process. “It’s hard to be a cancer patient because if you don’t know that much about cancer – which I really didn’t – it’s a huge learning curve on how to navigate what’s going to happen to you,” Collinsworth mused. Since finding out, Collinsworth has been spending a great deal of her time with her children, family and friends. The hardest part of the whole thing from her vantage point is not what is happening to her, but her children. “I am really, really just struggling with the kids part of it and making sure they are taken care of,” Collinsworth said. “It’s just excruciating to think they may not end up with their own mother around. It’s also heartbreaking to think I may not get to see them grow up, to help them through the lessons that everyone wants to help their children with. You just never think about something like this happening to you. Everyone says that and it’s true. Suddenly instead of a lifetime to help guide my children, the timer has been set and is counting backward. Anyone with children would feel this way. The good news is that I’ve been given a heads up and every day counts.”

head coach Kim Hudson Williams (1993-2004) is now working for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and when she heard about Collinsworth’s diagnosis she quickly reached out to current South Carolina head volleyball coach Scott Swanson. Williams coached Collinsworth in her final season as a Gamecock. “When I came into the program, the group of girls that I inherited they were a special group of young women. Just very bright and smart and Amy was one of the team leaders. She was just an asset to the program and to USC,” Williams said. Swanson immediately started trying to figure out ways to help raise awareness. “It’s a super-emotional thing to hear because it hits real close to home to me because I have a baby and a 4-year-old at home and I can’t imagine my wife being on her own, a single mom, and having to deal with terminal cancer plus two little kids,” Swanson said. “Since I got here, I’ve always felt it’s really, really important to reach out and keep the alumni involved and show them the appreciation for what they’ve built before us. We talk about that with our kids. When I heard this – and I had never met Amy – I said we had to do something. I feel like it’s my duty as the head coach here to raise the awareness and do anything we can to help her out. We’ve had a lot of people jump on board.” In addition to trying to raise awareness in the South Carolina community, Swanson also made phone calls to Collinsworth’s old club volleyball program so they could raise awareness as well. Williams is not surprised by the efforts of Swanson as he truly appreciates the history of Gamecock volleyball. “It’s been one of those things since ‘Gamecock volleyball family’ Scott came on board he has embraced Former South Carolina volleyball the alumni. He has done an extraordi-


nary job reaching out to the alumni and trying to get them back on board to support, but also be around the current players. He understands the importance of legacy and I’ve been so impressed with the intentionality he has had,” Williams said. Swanson also partnered with head coach Moritz Moritz and the Gamecock sand volleyball program in this endeavor and recently during the Gamecock Invitational (March 20-22) at the Carolina Sand Volleyball Complex, Swanson and his team handed out “Hope for Amy” flyers to raise awareness for Collinsworth. “To have support from our indoor program and Scott (Swanson) and the girls from his program to really help with awareness to something that’s obviously near and dear to us with our program (is special). We’re a volleyball family and we take care of our own,” Moritz said during the weekend of the Gamecock Invitational. ‘It’s really amazing how I’m being treated by USC’ Collinsworth is obviously taken

aback by the support from the University that means so much to her. “With South Carolina that part of the story is just icing on the cake when you find out somebody has taken on this amount of work for you just to let people know what you are going through. I would never have had the time or the energy to reach out of all of these people,” Collinsworth said. “That’s been a huge, huge blessing that Kim (Williams) took it upon herself – because I don’t personally know Scott (Swanson) – to come to him and have him help her and be this huge resource to reach out to the whole volleyball community (is special) because there are people I haven’t spoken to in 20 years that have emailed me and let me know that they have heard the news, so that is pretty awesome.” With the advent of Facebook and social media, Collinsworth and her former teammates have been able to reconnect over the last few years, but she is looking forward to hopefully reconnecting with her former team in person in the near future. “I’m excited for anything that hap-

pens. Something that we can get together in the fall or that I can come down (to Columbia). Those are the kinds of things that I’m looking forward to,” Collinsworth said. For someone from Indiana that now lives in North Carolina, Collinsworth is just in general pleased that “so many years later (after she graduated) people are willing to help out” “I don’t even know Scott (Swanson), but something like this tells me what type of person he is and I think that it’s wonderful that he would take it upon himself to work this hard at making my situation known to people,” Collinsworth said. “I’m not going to be naive. The money (from the awareness) is important for my children and so everything that I can save is helpful when someone donates money, but a lot of times people are just sending me messages that they are praying for me, that now their prayer group is praying for me or their church is praying for me. I’ve probably had a hundred people tell me that. That’s a lot of people praying for me. “Even if it’s an extra 25 people

remembering me when they say a prayer, that means a lot to me. It does mean a lot in all of the ways and certainly not just financial. It is really amazing how cared for I feel by the USC community. When I first visited USC on a recruiting trip the whole University felt so caring and like a family. That is really happening now,” Collinsworth said. To Williams raising awareness for Collinsworth is important simply “because she is one of our own.” “It’s very rare to get an opportunity to join in the fight with a young person with the kind of fight that she’s in. It’s an opportunity to alleviate a stress that is in her life that is unnecessary when others are able to come alongside of her. I feel like it’s an honor to be able to help her after all the years that she invested in USC and then went on as an incredible student-athlete in how she represented USC at Duke and then went on to stay on and work at Duke,” Williams said. To learn more about “Hope for Amy,” please visit www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/hope-for-amy/251072.


“Great to be a Gamecock”

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University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides and his wife, Patricia Moore-Pastides. “Coach Tanner’s been in that situation where he’s been on the road to winning a national championship and he’s been such a great support system for our program and President Pastides he’s a mainstay at all of our games,” Staley said of noting them during the regional championship trophy presentation. “And for him (Pastides) to take time out of his day and come on a Sunday afternoon when I’m quite sure he has so many other responsibilities (says a lot). And Mrs. Pastides seems to be our good luck charm. It’s always great to share, especially with our administrators who put us in a position to shape young lives and gives others the resources that we need to do that.” Staley also pointed out South Carolina Deputy Athletics Director Charles Wad-

dell, who works with the women’s basketball program on a day-to-day basis. “Charles is our guy,” Staley said. “Charles has been someone that is our angel. He watches over our program and he allows us to be us. He doesn’t micromanage us. He just steps in at the right time when we need him.” Before being presented the regional championship trophy and when the final buzzer sounded, Staley said the No. 1 thing going through her mind was her assistant coaches and staff. “I just wanted to embrace our coaches because they have worked so hard,” Staley said. “This is something that we have wanted to do as a staff for a very long time, probably long before we got to South Carolina. And to be able to enjoy this moment with them, it’s pretty special. They work hard. They put us in a position to achieve this type of success and we wanted to just enjoy the moment.”


by kyle heck Reporter

Scarnecchia showed the most impressive legs in the spring game, scampering for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He played a role in two of the three touchdowns, as he found wide receiver Terry Googer on a slant route for a two-yard touchdown that won the game for the Black team. “It was neat to see Michael Scarnecchia connect with Deebo Samuel and get down to the two-yard line and then hit Terry Googer on the slant there with the clock running out,” Spurrier said. “It added a little bit of suspense.” Mitch’s passing touchdown was to country music star Darius Rucker, who was this year’s off-the-sideline recipient. Even if Mitch’s touchdown pass came

on a gimmick play, he still completed more than half of his passes for 161 yards. Mitch himself said he played “fairly well” and is focused on continuing to improve as the summer and fall approaches. “I am never satisfied,” Mitch said. “There is always room to improve, especially in this conference. I have definitely made a lot of strides from last fall and last spring so I just have to keep the momentum going in the summer.” Spurrier is known as a coach who likes to play a lot of quarterbacks, but he said after the spring game that he just plays who he feels is the best. He pointed out last year as an example of that, when Dylan Thompson played virtually every snap because Spurrier felt like he gave the team the best chance to win. However, that will likely not be the case this season. If the quarterbacks continue to put up similar results come fall, don’t be surprised if they all play because they are so evenly matched. “We’re always trying to find out who the best player is and if they’re pretty close in ability, we will play more than one, it’s as simple as that,” Spurrier said.

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n his postgame press conference after South Carolina’s annual Garnet and Black spring game, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier made an interesting realization after reading off the stats his quarterbacks had. “They all seem to have their stats very similar every time we scrimmage,” Spurrier noted. That was definitely the case in the spring game. Connor Mitch completed 10-of-16 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, Michael Scarnecchia completed 12-of-19 for 191 yards and a touchdown as well and Perry Orth connected on 11-of-19 passes for 137 yards while also throwing two interceptions, one of which came on a great catch and the other on a fluke play. While Mitch spent the spring atop the depth chart, that does not mean he will be the Gamecocks starting quarterback in the fall by any means. Both Orth and Scarnecchia will get plenty more opportunities in the summer and fall to make

their case. “I consider us all on equal ground,” Scarnecchia said. “Throughout the spring we all got a lot of equal reps. I think the competition, like Spurrier says, is not going to be set in stone unless someone separates themselves or until a week before the game. So, we will have an opportunity to go out there and just keep showcasing what we have and working hard to try to earn that spot.” To further complicate things, four-star prospect Lorenzo Nunez will arrive in the summer and will immediately jump into the quarterback competition, according to Spurrier. As for the ones already on campus, Spurrier was impressed with what they did in the spring game and throughout the 15 practices. However, one of the major things he wants all of them to work on is making quicker decisions with the ball. “I wish we would get the ball out of their hands,” Spurrier said. “They like to take off running every now and then. It looked like there was a lot of sacks out there that would’ve happened if the quarterbacks would’ve been live.”


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Spurs & Feathers April Magazine