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AUGUST 2015

PHAROH COOPER: ‘We’re just ready to go out there and play’ Spurrier planning ‘on coaching a long time’


By brian hand Executive Editor Every year one home football game is designated as Gamecock Club Appreciation Day. With the Gamecock Club in its 75th year right now the annual Appreciation Day will be a little bit bigger than usual this year. And rightfully so since the Gamecock Club has meant so much to South Carolina for so long. “We’re very excited about it,” Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland said. “75 years is a big deal. We’re really planning on having a big celebration for the first home game against Kentucky.” As part of the special day, the rally towels will have the Gamecock Club 75th anniversary logo, the band has some special things planned for halftime and the videoboard will have some did you know facts throughout the course of the game. Other surprises are planned as well. During the pregame on field, the Gamecock Club will recognize their longest-tenured member at each level. These individuals will receive

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a jacket and a plaque much like the “Legendary Fan of the Game.” In addition, the Gamecock Club logo will be painted on the field. “We’ve wanted to do that for a while and we got it approved,” McFarland relayed. “It’s going to be pretty much where the Palmetto Tree usually is on the field and it will be for the Kentucky game only. We’re excited to have the Gamecock Club on TV and in front of everybody in the stadium. It’s a big deal.” The Gamecock Club 75th anniversary celebration will not just be confined to the game itself. “One thing we are really excited about is the opening of the Springs Brooks Plaza,” McFarland stated. “It’s phenomenal. When people step into Williams-Brice Stadium for Gamecock Club Appreciation Day during the Kentucky game people are going to be floored with what that whole project brings to the gameday experience.” McFarland encourages all South Carolina fans to come to Gamecock Park before the Kentucky game and visit with the Gamecock Club. “You’ll see our big tent out there,”

McFarland commented. “We also have some special things planned prior to the game.” The Gamecock Club also has some tailgating opportunities for fans before the season opener against North Carolina in Charlotte. “The Alumni Association and the Gamecock Club we’ve partnered up with this and it’s going to be a really neat event that is right across from the stadium in The Charlotte Observer parking lot,” McFarland said. “It’s $20 per person and that includes a buffet, a live band and we’re going to have a craft beer area. It is a cash bar, so that’s not

Brian Hand Executive Editor bhand@spursandfeathers.com (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506

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Kyle Heck Reporter

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included in the ticket price. We encourage people to attend that. It starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m. In addition, at the Rooftop bar at the EpiCentre in Charlotte the night before at 6 p.m. we will have our headquarters there. It’s the place to be if you want to be with other Gamecocks the night before the season opener.” Even before the start of the new football season, the 75th year of the Gamecock Club has already been special. McFarland hopes to see that continue throughout the rest of the year and into year No. 76 of the Gamecock Club in 2016. “One area that is doing very well is our Student Gamecock Club,” McFarland closed. “Jordan Gardner and our interns have really tackled that and we’re excited because the numbers are going to be bigger than they ever have been before. Renewals start in November and we are obviously hoping people renew for next year, but we’re excited about our numbers right now. Last year, we finished way over 18,000 and we think we have the opportunity to do that again.”

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by Kyle Heck Reporter

In fact, she’s enjoying life right now, coaching youngsters and preparing for a life-changing experience in another After getting drafted by the WNBA’s country. “The most important thing on my Chicago Sky in the second round in April, former South Carolina star checklist when I graduated was to Aleighsa Welch and everyone else give back to a community that has thought she would be playing for the given so much to me,” Welch said. “I see these kids all the time at games Sky right now. However, that isn’t the case after and these are kids that knew my first getting cut by Chicago a short time name and I knew theirs before they after getting drafted. Recently, the even walked through the door. To be Gamecocks’ career leader in offensive able to connect with them and come rebounds and games played headlined out and have a good time means a a session of the Dawn Staley Basketball lot because they’re the sweetest and Academy camp for children in Colum- most innocent kids so why not work bia as she was preparing to go overseas with them?” On August 30, Welch will travel to to play professional basketball. Portugal to begin a professional career For some, not getting a chance to accomplish one of your childhood with a team by the name of CAB Madreams would be devastating and that deira, a club that Welch said went 34-1 last season with the only loss coming in frustration would show when you the championship talked to said pergame. That’s good, son. because winning However, after is something that taking a break Welch grew used from leading to while with the children in drills Gamecocks. at the basket“When I was talkball practice ing to the coach, facility to speak he s aid ‘you with the local All Gamecock basketball coverage is lost in the Final sponsored by Yesterdays media, Welch was Four and came the same jovial, up short of what genuine person you wanted to do that she was her and we lost in the whole career at championship and came up short of South Carolina.

what we wanted to do,’” Welch said. “We’re working hand-in-hand and I told him that I want to be a champion and that’s what I’m coming there to do.” Welch knows of one other American that will be on her team, Morgan Bailey, who is a graduate of BYU. The two will be staying with each other and will help one another in the transition to a different country. Rather than being nervous, Welch is excited for the opportunity. “I’ve been presented a great opportunity to go overseas and do what I love and get paid to do it,” Welch said. “A lot of times, people right out of college don’t get that opportunity. Of course I wanted to play in the WNBA, but I was invited to the draft, I went through draft orientation, I sat and heard my name called, I went to training camp, I got to experience that and that’s something no one will ever be able to take away from me. I may not be in the WNBA, but I still get to live out my dream of playing

professionally.” The last four months have been a whirlwind for Welch that have featured a wide range of emotions. However, she is just thankful for all of the people that have supported her and helped her get to where she is now, especially South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “It’s been a process full of ups and downs, but it’s been more ups than downs,” Welch said. “I’ve trusted the process and at the end of the day, I’ve always had people to fall back on. Coach Staley has become like a second mom to me. She’s somebody who has looked out for me. She made a little special guest appearance at our camp before she went out recruiting. She didn’t have to come by, she could’ve just got out on the road (plus) she just got back from Russia. But she did. She came and showed her face and the kids loved it. The support I receive from her is unreal.”


by brian hand Executive Editor

T

hat extra little effort can make a huge difference. South Carolina football great Marcus Lattimore is living proof. “I tell people all the time, Marcus did everything the coaches asked and then a little bit more,” South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier said. “He was a tremendous influence on our team and now he’s taking that influ-

ence and spreading it all around in the community here.” Lattimore’s efforts in the community were honored on Thursday, July 30, 2015, as he was given the Jerry Richardson Community MVP Award as part of Fisher DeBerry’s annual “Coaches for Charity” event that was held this year at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Lattimore was excited to receive this particular award. “It’s an honor to receive this award

from Jerry Richardson for something I love doing and that’s working in the community, being with kids and working with adults,” Lattimore said. “It’s something I’m passionate about and it’s something I’ll do for the rest of my life because I’ll be in South Carolina for the rest of my life.” Shortly after receiving the award, Lattimore mentioned to everyone in attendance that at the event focused on raising money for charity through the teamwork of coaches in the state

of South Carolina that he would not be where he is today without the Head Ball Coach. “I came to South Carolina in 2010 and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Lattimore relayed. “I didn’t know how my career was going to pan out and the things that I went through Coach Spurrier was there every time. Every single time. Two big injuries, two big losses in my life and Coach Spurrier was right there. And the things he taught me in three years, I can’t ever repay him.”


Steve Spurrier recently sat down with Spurs & Feathers Executive Editor Brian Hand to talk about Gamecock football and much more. S&F: You had limited interaction with your team during the summer due to NCAA rules, but was this past summer any different than in the past in regards to getting your team ready for the upcoming season? The summer has gone very well. Our strength coach Joe Connolly basically has told me the attendance has been close to perfect. The players are giving excellent effort, camaraderie amongst the team seems to be very good. That’s basically what you hope happens all through the summer workouts. Our players work out four mornings a week from about 6-7 a.m. A lot is asked of college football players these days. Certainly all of us coaches are happy and pleased that they’re going to get some extra money this year. I think scholarship athletes here at USC are scheduled to get around $4,200 for the year. Other than that, we’re looking forward to the season. We’re anxious to get back to being a top-10 program. We had some slippage last year. We hope we’ve helped our defense in hiring Jon Hoke and I think we have. I think we’re going to be the most improved defense in the SEC this coming year. S&F: What have you been up to since the conclusion of spring practice? I had my usual summer trips that I’ve been doing for approximately 30 years as a head coach. I’ve always believed you need to get away from your job a bit in the four months that we have. We’ve had our football camps, we’ve had our meetings, we stay in touch. I do get away maybe a little bit more than most coaches do, but that seems to have worked for me in my coaching career. I recommended the way not to get burned out from your job is to have some hobbies and get away from it when you can. S&F: You seemed to have a renewed energy during the spring. Is this upcoming season as anticipated of one as you’ve ever had as a head coach? The renewed energy obviously started when we qualified for a bowl game and won the bowl game. In the last four years, I’ve had a tremendous apprecia-

tion for bowl games since we’ve been fortunate enough to win them. But when you win that bowl game you’ve got about seven or eight months of saying, “hey, we won our last game” and that’s, I think, very valuable to the offseason for any football program. So we had a winning season last year, we won the bowl game, we beat some good teams and yet defensively, we actually gave up more yards and more points than any South Carolina team has ever done. To have a team that wasn’t quite as strong as most of our teams and still have a winning record, it could’ve been a lot worse. So we’re thankful, we’re appreciative and we’re looking forward to earning our way through this 2015 season. S&F: A lot has changed with the presentation of Williams-Brice Stadium and Gamecock football in general since your arrival at the University of South Carolina. How much has the addition of the videoboard, Gamecock Park, Springs Brooks Plaza, the new indoor facility and other things helped with recruiting? We’re hoping it’s going to help us in the future because that’s what recruiting is all about now is facilities and what you’ve done. As far as our facilities, al-

most everything is brand new in the last couple of years. Our indoor facility will be ready in August of this year. When we start preseason practice, it should be ready. We have a brand new residence hall. It’s called 650 Lincoln. Condominium-style living. Every player will have his own bedroom. He’ll share a shower and restroom with a teammate. There’s a swimming pool and a cafeteria in it. It is really first-class. It’s nice as anywhere in the country. Our academic center, the Dodie, three-story building that houses all of our academic needs, has a cafeteria. Our practice fields, two brand new practice fields, beautiful grass, as good as I’ve ever seen. Our stadium, the Gamecock Park, the beautification of the stadium, grass and trees are going to be all around our stadium now so it’s going to have a nice beautiful look to it also. Our football team actually had a 2.938 GPA last year, the highest ever. We had 25 graduates in the calendar year. When I go talk to these recruits, I’m telling them that you can do it all here at the University of South Carolina. You can do it all. Football, academics, NFL. I read in the paper that I’ve had more players sign in the NFL than any other active coach in the country. I don’t know what

that means exactly, but we’ll take it. We can get you to the NFL if you’re good enough. We’ve got a lot going here, but you have to go do it on the field, as you know. Our opportunity is here. S&F: Ray Tanner just celebrated his third anniversary (July 13) of being the Athletics Director at South Carolina. How much have you enjoyed working with Coach Tanner? When I talk about our new facilities, I usually start with Eric Hyman because he came in 2005 and he found some boosters that were capable of giving some big money and they wanted to. I just don’t think that we had ever tapped them before and said, ‘hey, we need some large gifts to get our athletic program in competitive shape in the SEC and Coach Tanner has continued this. He has continued what Eric Hyman did in fundraising and Coach Tanner is a wonderful guy to work with. He’s adamant about facilities and all these improvements here in the last couple years have come under Coach Tanner. I have to also say President Pastides. He’s the best. I think he’s the best I’ve ever worked for. To have these two guys as bosses, it makes life very comfortable for all of our coaches here at South Carolina. SPURS & FEATHERS •

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years have been like for you in the Palmetto State? Again, where did the time go? When Karen and I met at North Carolina State and we were both working there and she was a graduate of (South Carolina), she always spoke so highly of the University and often talked about the opportunity to come back. I was familiar with the University, of course, because of Bobby Richardson and June Raines and the great success in all of the sports and the great fans, but she always said that if we ever get the chance to go there and work, you will love it. That was the quote she repeated numerous times “You will love it.” How true it has been. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be entering my 20th academic year here. I don’t take that for granted. I realize we’re in the profession sometimes that can change whether you’re coaching or whether you’re an administrator. It can change and I’m so very grateful. Again, I mentioned earlier the energy that we have here on this campus is very special. I won’t tell you that the energy level 20 years ago is what it is today. I think it has continued to build over the years. Going back to Dr. (Mike) McGee’s tenure and then Eric Hyman’s contributions and now we continue to try to move the opportunities to be successful here. It has just been great to be a part of the Gamecock family and when I get up every day, I’m excited about the challenges ahead and the opportunities to change the landscape in the department of athletics. S&F: Those first few years as Athletics Director at the University of South Carolina also included Mike Slive as the SEC Commissioner with Greg Sankey now in charge of things at the SEC office. Obviously Slive is one of the legends in college athletics, but what are you look-

ing forward to the most with Sankey as to Charles and David Cockfield (Director of Live Operations) and (Director of Gamecock Commissioner? I think that once Greg Sankey took over, a Productions) Paul Danna and that entire lot of people said that Commissioner Slive is an icon and he’s a Hall of Famer and he’s going to be very difficult to follow. But remember that Greg Sankey was with him for the last 12 or 13 years so he’s been a part of that team over there and he’s extremely bright. He has the ability to bring people together and that’s what it takes. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody like Commissioner Slive that can bring a room together of people that compete hard against each other in this Southeastern Conference. But Greg Sankey, as I said, he’s a brilliant man. He brings people together and he cares about the member institutions. He’s passionate. I’m hopeful and I pray every day that he doesn’t force us all to be a part of Iron Tribe. If he pushes the AD’s to be a part of the Iron Tribe, we’re going to try and impeach him. But other than that, he’s great, there’s no questions about it. S&F: Speaking of the SEC, the SEC Network has been even greater than expected for teams in the SEC. What excites you the most about the network and how proud are you that internally your department produced more on-campus Best Seats in Williams-Brice events than any other athletic program in the league? Long Term Availability I think my first year as an Athletic Director, the conversation was just beginning about the creation of the SEC Network. I’m sitting there and I’m trying to take it all in and understand all of the components and how Details and Seat Amenities it’s going to evolve, and of course little by little, everything fell into place with the great partnership with ESPN and the SEC. When we got to the point of (Senior Associate AD/ External Affairs) Charles Bloom - I give credit

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South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Spurs & Feathers Executive Editor Brian Hand about a variety of topics. S&F: You just recently celebrated your third anniversary of taking over as the Athletics Director at the University of South Carolina. I am sure the last few years have been a whirlwind, but what are some of the things that have stood out to you during your time as AD? There have been so many things that have stood out, but I think the thing that resonates so much with me every single day is how great it is to be here at the University of South Carolina in athletics with so many wonderful people. Our coaching staff is great. I know that a lot of Athletic Directors will make these kinds of comments, but I’m telling you that our administration here, the coaches, our student-athletes that have performed at high levels academically and competitively and the leadership from Dr. (Harris) Pastides, it has just been a fabulous time as we continue to grow. Three years, where did it go? The energy and excitement that continues to build here is very special. I know that with the people that we have - and you hear people that talk about a team all the time - it really is a team. Whether you’re the head coach or whether you’re the Senior Associate (AD) in charge of compliance or the Athletics Director, it’s all about putting all the pieces in the right place. We have a very special environment here to work, to play and to achieve academic success. S&F: You are also entering your 20th athletic year at the University of South Carolina. I am sure you planned to be at the University for some time, but could you ever have imagined what the last 19


crew - we came together and they told me the different investments we need to make with fiber, with cameras, with staffing and the whole deal. I’m a competitor and I said that we have to maximize the opportunities to showcase our student-athletes. It’s great for our institution, but it’s great for recruiting as well. What do we need to do? Well all of those things that they talked about had to be emphasized and I said “let’s go.” Let’s do everything we possibly can. Again, Charles’ leadership and David Cockfield and Paul Danna and the others, we moved forward to try and produce as many events as we possibly could and we accomplished that. We’re on the leaderboard up there and we’ll continue to try to do that. We’re going to grow and that’s exciting. That was an opportunity that I think a lot of schools in the conference are still kind of evaluating and we are as well. But we want to produce as many events as we possibly can and we’ve been able to do that. The staff has worked tirelessly to put us in that position. S&F: Last year at this time, we were talking about just how much the student-athletes, coaches and administrators at South Carolina do for the community. This year, a new record was set with the Gamecock student-athletes amassing 8,860 hours of community service. It has to give you a great deal of pride as the Athletics Director to see the student-athletes and more willing to give of their time so greatly. We sometimes get carried away with what we’re doing today, whether we’re recruiting or whether we’re in class as a student-athlete or whether we’re trying to win. But there are so many components that go into being a part of this city and a part of this University. Being a part of the community is paramount for me. I think that it is part of what we do. It’s not something where we go “do this if you can.” It’s part of being a student-athlete and it’s part of being a coach here. We’re part of the community, we’re not isolated. We’re a big part of this community and to have so many athletes embrace being a part of the community, it does give me a great feeling. Erica Nelson, our Life Skills Coordinator, she deserves a lot of credit for coordinating these. It’s a full-time job. It’s exciting to see our young men and women dedicate themselves to stepping outside their world of schedules and academics and athletics. They’re busy, but yet they find time to do this. Just shy of 9,000 hours this year and that’s wonderful. I’m so happy and pleased that our student-athletes are immersed in this community as well as our

coaches. You see what (men’s basketball head coach) Frank Martin does and (women’s basketball head coach) Dawn Staley and (head track and field coach Curtis) Frye and (head football coach Steve) Spurrier and (head baseball coach Chad) Holbrook do, they’re all helping. That wasn’t the case many years ago. Coaches were coaches and that was it. It’s so much different now and I love the place that we are. We all are such a part of the community. S&F: Speaking of student-athletes, the records keep coming in the classroom as well. I know the true student-athlete experience is something you hold closely. How nice is to see the Gamecock student-athletes taking full advantage of the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center and all of the other academic services that are in place at the University? When the Dodie was built, did we feel like it would be an asset for us? Absolutely. We felt that it would enhance recruiting, we felt that it would be a venue to improve our academic performance with a fabulous facility for our student-athletes. The success that we’ve enjoyed in the academic arena is very special. Again, (Associate AD/Academics and Student Development) Maria Hickman and her staff, they deserve a lot of credit, they really do. They work extremely hard to service our student-athletes. Just like when you’re playing a game or swimming in the pool or running track, the athletes are the ones that take the tests. They’re the ones that do the papers. They’ve performed at a high level and we feel like we have great support services, but they have performed. Every semester we have this running total of the 3.0 and we’re up to 17 and I’m like “wow.” It’s very impressive and as you know, competing in the SEC at this level, the schedule is busy. You’re practicing, you’re traveling and you’re competing. And then to succeed at a high level academically is very exciting and I can’t be more proud of our student-athletes and the staff over at the Dodie. S&F: You noted to us recently at the extension of the naming rights for the Colonial Life Arena just how important sponsorships of that type are for the university. You also articulated that you may be close to a stadium sponsor at Carolina Stadium. Do you think we could see more of the current or future facilities receive sponsorships? We have a number of opportunities here. We have a document that we have available to us to look at all of our facilities, tutorial rooms, whatever the case may be to try and look

for naming opportunities to bring in some revenue for our student-athletes. It gives us a chance to invest back in their lives. To have Colonial Life to continue the naming rights for another 10 years is great. I think it’s so important that we have the brand recognition. It’s important to the companies and businesses and vice versa. We want to be involved with their initiatives and they want to be involved with ours. When you see all these naming opportunities, and there’s maybe not as many here as at some campuses across the country, but it’s an opportunity to create revenue for the student-athletes to invest back into their academic and athletic careers. You never know where it will go, but there’s going to some opportunities. You mentioned baseball, are we there yet? No, but we’ve got tremendous interest with a number of businesses that may want to go in that direction. S&F: Speaking of facilities, there is obviously a ton going on with the almost completed football upgrades, the new soccer building, the track and field updates and much more. Do you feel that is one of your number one responsibilities as the Athletics Director is making sure the University keeps up in this area? When I took this job, I always had aspirations to be in athletic administration, not really knowing whether I could be an Athletics Director or not, but I did have aspirations of being on the administrative side of athletics when my coaching career was done. I had always felt like it would be a good fit for me and I believe in the mission of being a student-athlete and the opportunities. I was concerned somewhat that when I moved into this role and I put on a different suit, would I still have those competitive juices or would I miss that? Needless to say, it hasn’t decreased, it’s multiplied. When you look at a coach or a student-athlete and it’s gameday and you’re building up to a competition, it is a special emotion. I experience that when I wake up every day because of those 21 sports. It’s not about keeping up with the Jones’ for me, it’s not about generating the most revenue or spending the most money, but it is about providing opportunities to be successful.

When you provide the opportunities, the expectations change. That’s the important thing to me. It’s about providing opportunities to give you the best chance of having the highest expectations. We have made great progress here over the years, 20 years ago we didn’t have the Dodie, we didn’t have the Rice (Athletics Center), we didn’t have the practice fields, we didn’t have the improved practice facilities for men’s and women’s basketball, we didn’t have a lot of things. But we’ve changed those opportunities which has changed the expectations. But I want to be clear as I’m sitting here that it’s not about providing the best, win or else. That’s not what it is. It’s just providing the opportunities for those studentathletes that we bring to our campus to have the best opportunities of anywhere in the country and realize the expectations. But it’s not a situation where the pressure is so great that if you don’t finish first, it’s a big disappointment. It’s not that. It’s just providing the maximum opportunities for the maximum expectations. S&F: Finally, with the 2015-16 athletic year almost upon us, what are some of the things you are looking forward to the most as the year commences? When we finish up our spring sports and we head into the summer and we finish up our fiscal year and there’s a lot of things to do to button up everything, there’s a time in there where we are still busy. But the student-athlete energy isn’t here. It’s a down time. That’s hard for me. We need to be playing, we need to go. So that’s exciting that we get soccer and volleyball underway and football kicks off up in Charlotte against the Tar Heels. That’s our lives. Our student-athletes, many of them are here in the summer moving forward with their degrees. Then we get back into the normalcy of being a student-athlete, practicing and competing at a high level. That energy and enthusiasm on campus is ratcheted up again. It’s been wonderful for me. There’s so many things that make it special to be here. We need to talk about our fan base, our donors, our Gamecock Club members. The energy and enthusiasm they bring is second to none. You hear that from a lot of coaches and AD’s around the country, but it’s not real at every place. It’s real here.


by kyle heck Reporter Here is a quick recap of the 2014-15 South Carolina athletic year.

Baseball

Coming into the season as a top-10 team, the Gamecocks got off to a hot start, winning 17 of their first 20 games of the year. However, things slowed down for South Carolina after that and they finished the 2015 season with a 32-25 record and 13-17 record in the SEC. The Gamecocks lost their first game of the SEC tournament and missed out on the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. Senior first baseman Kyle Martin had a standout season for South Carolina, leading the Gamecocks with a .350 average, 14 home runs and 56 RBIs on his way to being named a first-team All-American by Baseball America.

Men’s Basketball

The Gamecocks had their best season thus far under Frank Martin in 2014-15. South Carolina got off to a hot start, cruising through nonconference play with nine wins in 12 games. The biggest victory came in the last nonconference game of the season against then-No.9 Iowa State in Brooklyn, New York. The Gamecocks knocked off the Cyclones, 64-60, to record their first victory over a top-10 team since 2010. South Carolina hit some bumps along the road in conference play, but put things together toward the end of the season. After an 11-point win at Tennessee to close out the regular season, the Gamecocks advanced to the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, where they lost to Georgia. However, those three straight wins late in the year helped South Carolina go 17-16 and secure its first winning season since the 2008-09 campaign.

Women’s Basketball

Head coach Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks continued their meteoric rise this past season, confirming their place among the nation’s elite programs. They started the season 22-0, which was the best start in program history. It also tied the best start by any Gamecock program, matching the 2000 baseball team and 1979-1980 women’s tennis team. The Gamecocks would go on to finish the regular season at 27-2 and 15-1 in the

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SEC. After conquering the SEC regular season championship, South Carolina cruised past Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee to capture its first-ever SEC tournament championship. The Gamecocks kept up that momentum in the postseason, eliminating Savannah State, Syracuse, North Carolina and Florida State to advance to the program’s first-ever Final Four. In an exciting game, South Carolina was narrowly edged by Notre Dame, 66-65, in the Final Four, ending the impressive season. The Gamecocks finished the year with a 34-3 record, which was the most wins in school history. Things are looking good for next year as well, as the Gamecocks lose just three seniors, two of them starters. Departing senior Aleighsa Welch was named the recipient of the SEC Sportsmanship Award as well.

Cross Country

The cross country team started off strong, claiming four first place finishes in its first six events. However, a slew of injuries slowed down the Gamecocks during the SEC and NCAA regional championships. South Carolina finished 13th at the SEC Championships and claimed an 18th place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional. Still, assistant track coach for distance and cross country Andrew Allden was happy with the way his young runners stepped up for the injured runners in the regionals. The Gamecocks have no seniors on the roster and 15 of the 27 runners are freshmen. Overall, six of the top seven runners will return for South Carolina in 2015, so the future is bright. One of the highlights of the 2014 fall season was junior Anna Todd. She was the Gamecocks’ top finisher in all six of the meets she appeared in and placed 36th and 39th in the SEC Championships and NCAA Regional, respectively.

Equestrian

After dropping its first two meets of the season, South Carolina knew it could do better than that. The two-time defending SEC champions would win their next seven meets to set the tone for the rest of the regular season. However, looking to capture their third straight SEC title, the Gamecocks were upset by both Texas A&M and Auburn to finish fourth in College Station, Texas. Head coach Boo Major wasn’t happy

with that performance at all and the team had several meetings in advance of the national championship in Waco, Texas. Whatever was said worked, because South Carolina knocked off Fresno State and host Baylor before upsetting No. 1 Georgia, 10-6, to capture the program’s third national title and first since 2007. It was an incredible season for the Gamecocks, who finished 12-5, and Major was rewarded by being named the NCEA National Coach of the Year after the season.

Football

The 2014 football season consisted of a series of up and downs for South Carolina. The Gamecocks began the season ranked ninth in the country, but lost a home game to Texas A&M to begin the year. The team bounced back from that loss to win three games in a row, including yet another win against rival Georgia, who was ranked No. 6 at the time, at WilliamsBrice stadium. However, South Carolina struggled during the middle of the season, losing four out of five games to put in doubt the chances of going to a bowl game. The Gamecocks responded with back-toback wins, including just the program’s second-ever win in The Swamp at Florida, to clinch a bowl bid. South Carolina held on for a 24-21 victory against Miami in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl to record its fourth straight bowl victory and end the season on a high note. Head coach Steve Spurrier was happy with how the Gamecocks tacked on another bowl win and is also excited about the 2015 season. This year’s impressive recruiting class includes a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, an area that the Gamecocks struggled during most of 2014.

Men’s Golf

The Gamecocks were able to put together a historic season in 2014-15 and had two players that broke the singleseason scoring record. Juniors Will Starke and Matt NeSmith helped lead South Carolina to a schoolrecord five tournament titles and a third-straight national championship appearance. Starke led the team with a 70.27 scoring average while NeSmith was second at 70.51. NeSmith also won the individual SEC championship, becoming just the second South Carolina player to do so. Both Starke and NeSmith

were named Golfweek All-Americans and NeSmith earned a spot in the field of the 2015 U.S. Open. Those two weren’t the only ones doing good things for the Gamecocks as South Carolina shattered the school-record for the lowest team scoring average by more than four strokes, posting a 282.85 average. The Gamecocks earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and placed second in the regional to advance to the championship. where South Carolina placed 13th out of 30 teams.

Women’s Golf

Just like the men’s team, the women’s golf team put up an equally impressive season. The Gamecocks rose as high as No. 1 in the country and joined the men as No. 1 seeds for the NCAA tournament. South Carolina was the only school to have both its men’s and women’s programs earn No. 1 seeds. The Gamecocks won their regional and advanced to their sixth straight national championship, where they placed 17th. Senior Justine Dreher put together one of the best individual seasons in school history. She was ranked No. 6 heading into the national championship. She finished in a tie for 16th at the championship, which was her career-best finish. Dreher was named a first-team Golfweek All-American and her 72.53 scoring average broke the school-record. Sophomore Katelyn Dambaugh joined Dreher on the Golfweek All-American team as a honorable mention.

Beach Volleyball

Just one year after their inaugural season, the Gamecocks made a big step forward in 2015. After posting a 5-13 record in 2014, South Carolina went 14-7 this past year, good enough to earn the Gamecocks a No. 17 national ranking from the DiG Magazine Collegiate Sand Volleyball Poll at the end of the season. One of the goals coach Moritz Moritz had for the Gamecocks was to double their win total from the previous year. They accomplished that in the 12th match and nearly tripled it by the end of the season. This came after South Carolina played one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Gamecocks played five teams that were ranked in the final poll. Some of the goals for Moritz and the Gamecocks next year include defeating


No. 27 Mississippi State, No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 20 Kentucky. While the Gamecocks didn’t defeat a top-10 team like head coach Kevin Epley wanted, they were still able to make the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive year. South Carolina defeated Princeton in the first round before falling 4-2 to host Virginia in the second round. The future looks bright as Epley and the Gamecocks signed the best recruiting class in the SEC and 12th best in the country, according to TennisRecruiting. net.

the College of Charleston to capture the state championship and beating LSU to conquer the unofficial SEC championship.

Men’s Soccer

The South Carolina men’s soccer team went through an up and down season, but it ended on a high note. The Gamecocks got an upset win over UAB in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament to make it to the final against host Old Dominion. It was their third finals appearance in just 10 years in the league. However, South Carolina fell short against Old Dominion, losing by a 2-1 score. The Gamecocks finished with a 10-10 record on the season and while head coach Mark Berson was disappointed his team couldn’t win a conference championship, he was happy with the way his team stepped up its play at the end of the year. South Carolina also registered a big come-from-behind win over rival Clemson early in the year, defeating the Tigers 2-1 in double-overtime. Redshirt freshman Mikkel Knudsen had a fantastic season and it earned him two prestigious awards. Knudsen won the CUSA Golden Boot and was also named the league’s freshman of the year. He was also tabbed a first-team freshman All-American. Senior defenders Mahamoudou Kaba and Braeden Troyer wrapped up excellent careers as both were named to the All-Conference USA second-team.

Women’s Soccer

The South Carolina women’s soccer team fought their way to history in the 2014 season. Coming into the year with high expectations, the Gamecocks’ offense struggled at times and the team lost some games that head coach Shelley Smith was frustrated with. However, she was far from disappointed with the results in the postseason. After losing to Texas A&M in the SEC semifinals, South Carolina began the NCAA tournament with a win against rival Clemson in penalty kicks. The team then traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina where the Gamecocks knocked off Seattle in penalty kicks yet again and recorded a monumental 1-0 upset over host North Carolina to earn the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Elite Eight, where their run ended with a loss to eventual national champion Florida State. So while the regular season didn’t go as well as Smith would’ve liked, South Carolina (14-6-5) still recorded a program first. Smith was particularly happy for the talented group of seniors that included goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, who became the first Gamecock to earn two first-team All-American awards, and Taylor Leach, who was a first-team All-

Men’s and Women’s Track and Field

SEC defender.

Softball

Like they’ve done for the last few years, the Gamecocks took another step forward during the 2015 season. Thanks to the breakout season of junior Alaynie Page, South Carolina went 38-22 and once again made it back to the NCAA tournament. After winning 36 games a year ago, head coach Beverly Smith and the Gamecocks have now increased their overall win total each of the last five years. One of the highlights of the season came in mid-March, when South Carolina took two of three from Women’s College World Series participant Tennessee at Carolina Softball Stadium. It was the Gamecocks first series win over the Vols since 2002. Page’s monstrous season featured a .436 batting average, 15 home runs, 45 RBIs, .805 slugging percentage and a .538 on-base percentage. She became the first South Carolina player in 16 years to be named a NFCA first-team All-American.

Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving

On the men’s side, the Gamecocks put together a solid season, capping it off with an impressive performance at the 2015 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The Gamecocks were led by freshmen at the championships, giving a glimpse of things to come for South Carolina. Nils Wich-Glasen earned All-American honors with a seventh-place finish in the 200 breaststroke. In addition, Akram Mahmoud and Tomas Peribonio placed sixth and 13th, respectively, in the 1,650 freestyle to both earn All-American honors. Meanwhile, senior diver Cole Miller finished his career at South Carolina as a three-time All-American after a 14th place finish in the platform competition. The Gamecocks finished 19th out of 39

teams at the championships. On the women’s side, another freshman, Meredith Vay, finished third in the 200 freestyle at the SEC Championships on her way to being named second-team All-SEC. Divers Patricia Kranz and Lauren Lamendola, both juniors, medaled at the SEC Championships on the three-meter and one-meter springboards, respectively. While the women’s team didn’t make an appearance at the NCAA Championships, they did win their last five events of the season and placed 11th at the SEC Championships.

Men’s Tennis

After a solid fall where the Gamecocks showed they could be one of the top teams in the SEC in the 2015 season, a slew of injuries and illnesses caused South Carolina, who entered the spring ranked No. 27 in the country, to stumble. Seniors Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro were a couple of the leaders that went down for the Gamecocks. After winning their first three matches of the year, South Carolina lost three of its next four matches. After winning four in a row, they then lost four matches in a row. Much of the rest of the season went the same way and the Gamecocks finished with a 15-15 record. Head coach Josh Goffi and his team missed out on the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. South Carolina loses three important seniors, but the rest of the roster featured players that were either freshmen or sophomores, providing a solid foundation for next season.

Women’s Tennis

Coming into the spring ranked No. 23 in the country, South Carolina put together another solid season on the courts. The Gamecocks finished the regular season 15-11 and 6-7 in the SEC. Some marquee wins for South Carolina included victories over No. 30 Auburn,

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams had major individual accomplishments in 2015, as well as solid team performances. Long jumper Jeannelle Scheper won the NCAA Outdoor high jump national title, the first outdoor championship for the women’s team since 2007 and first championship overall since 2010. On the men’s side, sophomore Jussi Kanervo placed sixth in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. It made Kanervo just the eighth South Carolina player to earn All-American status at the outdoor championship. If he can stay healthy, he’ll have a solid shot at winning the national title next year, as he was second this year among non-seniors. On the team side of things, the women’s squad finished in a tie for 20th at the outdoor championships, their highest finish since 2007. The men’s team finished in a tie for 60th. At the SEC Outdoor Championships in May, the men finished in 11th while the women finished in 13th.

Volleyball

The 2014 South Carolina volleyball team saw a vast improvement from the year before. The Gamecocks went 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the SEC. In 2013, South Carolina recorded just 12 overall wins and just three in the SEC. What’s even more impressive is that the Gamecocks improved tremendously despite losing one of the best players in school history in Juliette Thevenin. The team this past year was a relatively young team, meaning that head coach Scott Swanson and his club should continue to get better next season. South Carolina lost a valuable contributor over the last four years in libero Mikaela Christiaansen, who recorded a school-record 535 digs in 2014. Swanson was happy with the way his team battled all year and that the results started to reflect how hard his players have been working. Young players like freshman Taylr McNeil and sophomore KoKo Atoa-Williams, who both had fantastic 2014 seasons, are a major reason why Swanson is so happy about the future. SPURS & FEATHERS •

7


Spurs & Feathers Executive Editor Brian Hand recently sat down with South Carolina baseball head coach Chad Holbrook to discuss a variety of different topics. S&F: Now that you have had a little time to reflect, what are some of the positives that you can take from last year? I think that it was neat that Kyle Martin had such a great year as an individual, was an All-American and performed so well and so consistently throughout the year. That’s something that stood out. As a team - I’m going to be honest with you - with the expectations that our team has and this coaching staff has it’s not a season as a team that I reflect back and think of any positives. I hate to sound sour, but we all expect to perform better and play better and we’ve got to make the necessary changes to ensure as a team we don’t have that type of season again. There were some bright spots from an individual standpoint and the team had some nice wins: the walk off against Kentucky, the series win against (national finalist) Vanderbilt. There were some meaningful moments as a group that we had, but they were certainly few and far between in this coach’s eyes as well as I’m sure a lot of folks’ eyes, so hopefully we’re going to make the necessary adjustments that we need to make to ensure that we have a lot more happy moments next year. S&F: One of the things that stood out to us all last season was that you personally took ownership each and every time for the way the season turned out. As the head man, how important is it to take this approach and make sure your team knows you are all in this together? We’re all in this together and we’re obviously judged by how our team performs. Each member of our team, each member of our coaching staff is extremely important to the success we’re going to have on the field and when you don’t perform or play the way you’re expected to or hope to, the responsibility lies with the head coach. I respect that

and that’s how it should be. Now I have to make the necessary decisions to make sure that from a personnel standpoint, from a mentality standpoint, from a makeup standpoint that we don’t have the same issues this coming season that we had last season. When you have a tough year, you’ve got to analyze yourself, you’ve got to ity standpoint we’ve got to change who look deep at yourself - what you did we are in the weight room as far as being wrong, what could you do better, what a stronger, more physical-type team and could you change? That’s not just with that will maybe help us from an injury me, that’s with each and every person perspective too. We’ve been unfortuthat works at this stadium or is in our nate in that regard the past couple of locker room. Every single person here years. We’ve got to do all we can from has to get better and if we all get bet- a work ethic standpoint, a preparation ter and we all realize some of the mis- standpoint, to make sure we’re confitakes we made, take ownership, then dent, we’re physical, we’re strong and we this won’t happen again because we prepare ourselves to stay as injury free as have good players, we have really good we possibly can to make sure that each coaches and we’ve got every good re- and every day the team that we put on source available here to have a great the field - no matter what - has a chance baseball team. Quite frankly, I would ex- to win. So there’s a lot of areas that we’ve pect nothing less than that in 2016 for us scrutinized big time and I’ve had to look to be a great baseball team. deep at myself too to make sure that I S&F: Last year, as you were trying make the necessary changes to prepare to find the right lineup the byprod- us to have a great season next season uct of that was a lot of freshmen and and I believe that will be the case. newcomers received valuable play- S&F: Obviously Monte Lee is someing time. How valuable will that be as body you have a lot of respect for and you prepare for and go into the 2016 know well. Does him taking over as season? head coach at Clemson bring a newI hope that it gives them the experi- ness to the rivalry? ence and confidence to play well. A lot It doesn’t matter who’s coaching Clemof our guys are playing this summer and son and who’s coaching South Carolina, are playing well and pitching well. That’s it’s going to be intense. It’s the best rivalry certainly exciting for us. Experience is in college baseball. Quite honestly, I have huge in this league. Experience, maturity, a great relationship with Monte and that physicality, all those things play an im- probably does make the rivalry more inportant role. The experience (the players) tense. The closer you are with somebody, received as freshmen or sophomores this the more you want to beat them. year means it won’t be a new experience We have the utmost respect for Monte for them next year and that usually and what he’s done at the College of helps them. They’re getting a Charleston and I know he’ll do lot of great experience this a great job at Clemson, but summer. believe me, we want to Almost all our kids beat them in the worst are playing and for way. It wouldn’t matthe most part having ter if Monte was there pretty darn good sumor not, but that’s what All Gamecock baseball mers and then the other makes this rivalry great. coverage sponsored by DiPrato’s part of it is from a physicalI’m sure he’s excited about

being a part of this rivalry. That’s one of the greatest perks of this job is being able to be a part of the greatest rivalry in college baseball. We think the world of Monte and we’re going to try like crazy to beat him, but the intensity of the rivalry is not going to change just because of who the head coaches are. It’s going to be the players out there working their tails off trying to beat the other team. He’ll put a great team on the field and we’re going to put a great team on the field. This rivalry is not going to take a step back, I can assure you of that. S&F: What are you most looking forward to as fall practice gets underway? When you have a year like the one we just had there are going to be changes. Anytime there are changes, you’re anxious to get on the field and see what type of improvements your team has made on the field. For instance, the change first and foremost, I think people will notice is the faces are going to change. There are new players. The identity is going to be different because there are so many new players. As a coach when you have a new team, you’re excited to get on the field and see what they can bring to the table, but we have some young players that are coming in here that are chomping at the bit to get here. We have a number of players that turned down quite a bit of money to come to school and we’re still working on the dynamics of our roster to ensure that the new faces that come in here will enable us to compete for an SEC championship and the ability to host a regional, a super regional and hopefully give us the chance to get to the College World Series. To do that, we’ve had to make some changes. You’ll see it first and foremost in the faces and the names on the back of the jerseys and then I’ll hope you’ll see the necessary changes on the field in our performance. We’re excited as coaches to get to work in August. It’s always exciting when you have new faces and new people coming into the program.


AS20-1335594


by Brian hand Executive Editor Rosalyn Durant came to the University of South Carolina in 1995 with a love of media. But just like most young students she did not know exactly what that meant. “My first work experience – I wouldn’t call it an internship – I went to WOLO (in Columbia) to shadow. It was my first real exposure to the network business. I loved it from the beginning,� Durant said. Fast forward to 2015 and the 1999 University of South Carolina graduate with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in marketing is now the Senior Vice President, College Networks, at ESPN. In her role, she oversees ESPNU, the SEC Network and the Longhorn Network. Herpositionincludesbeinginchargeofthe strategic programming direction for each of the above networks. ToDurant,“it’scompletelysurreal�that16 years since graduating from the University of South Carolina she is now in charge of the direction of the SEC Network as the network commences its second year. “I had such amazing internships when I was at South Carolina,� Durant relayed. “I interned at WIS, Turner Networks in Atlanta and then at ESPN the summer before my senior year. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work in media and the different internships that I was able to experience throughSouthCarolinahelpedmefindmy place in the industry. My new role brings together my love for media with my love for the SEC.� Durant took over her new role officially on May 13 of this year. She replaced Justin Connolly, who was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Disney & ESPN Media

Networks earlier this year. Recently named to Sports Business Journal’s40under40list,Durantstartedherfulltime duties at ESPN as a coordinator after graduating from South Carolina in 1999. Durant had a rapid ascension through the organization. Most recently before taking over her new role, Durant was ESPN’s Vice President, College Sports, Programming and Acquisitions, overseeing ESPNU, management of NCAA Championships, football, men’s and women’s college basketball, Olympic sports and conference relations in addition to ESPN’s coverage of high school sports. Under Durant’s guidance and supervision, ESPNU more than found its place in households across the nation with the network picking up distribution to approximately 75 million homes. The SEC Network had the most successful cable launch in history during its inaugural year and Durant could not be happier to be a part of the network that despiteunprecedentedsuccessinyearone is still really a growing network. “I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity,� Durant noted. “I’ve said before that not only am I a fan of the network, I am a fan of the conference and a product of the conference, so it feels like a home-

coming.� The weeks since mid-May have been fast and furious for Durant as in addition to settlinginhernewroleshealsorelocatedfrom Bristol, Conn. to Charlotte where the SEC Networkisoperatedinafacilityalsoutilized by ESPNU. “The first few months for me have been a lot of listening to the people who are closest to the network – here at ESPN, at the conference office and at the schools,� Durant said. Durant has been overwhelmed with how supportive everyone is to the SEC Network product. “Everyone is super committed to the network.Thefolksattheconferenceofficeand institutions have been great to work with,� Durant remarked. The SEC Network’s second year and Durant’s first year will include both learning together along the way. “There are specific things I know now that I would like to see us accomplish. I’ll continue to assess and revisit the goals along the way,� Durant said. Durant is excited about some of the new things that the SEC Network will be offering in the upcoming year to continue the network’s commitment to providing content never seen before. “We announced a new program this year at SEC Media Days, ‘SEC Inside,’� Durant said. “The beauty of ‘SEC Inside’ is it allows us to dig deeper into storytelling to show fans more than they’ve seen before with unique elements and access they haven’t had before now. The SEC Network is for the fans, the conference and the institutions. We want to deliver on their expectations and ensure a one of a kind experience. That’s important.� This upcoming year the SEC Network will

also continue its focus on the “SEC Storied� series. “We want to do more storytelling and even better storytelling. There are so many unique stories in the conference,� Durant commented. “We’re not even a year old, so we’re only just beginning to tell them.� Another area that Durant hopes will continue to grow is the use of SEC Network + where schools have the opportunity in addition to the programming on the SEC Network linear channel to produce their own events utilizing the SEC/ESPN platform. South Carolina athletics led the way in this regard in the first year of the SEC Network with the department producing more in-house events than any other institution in the SEC. “First off, I’m very proud of South Carolina and the way the University embraced SEC Network + and the opportunity to produce events for the network,� Durant said. “I think that it’s (SEC Network +) good for everyone. It provides exposure for events that may not otherwise be produced for a national audience.� This is an area where it also comes fullcircle for Durant as she knows the SEC Network + broadcasts garners students at South Carolina and really throughout the SEC the unique chance to get real-world opportunities that maynot have been possible before. “It’s such a tremendous opportunity for students,� Durant said. “I was a broadcast major at South Carolina. Just thinking about it now, I can’t tell you how much I would have enjoyed working on productions for an SEC/ESPN platform,� Durant said. “I’m excited for all that lies ahead for the network and look forward to even more students on our SEC campuses getting involved. The future is bright.�

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by kyle heck Reporter It is common knowledge that players tend to take after their coaches. If a coach is fiery, his players usually are too. On the other hand, if a coach is subdued and quiet, he usually has a team that is the same way. If head coach Steve Spurrier’s impromptu press conference recently is any indication, expect the Gamecocks to be a very fiery team this upcoming season. Fed up with some national talk that South Carolina is on the decline and he’s getting too old to coach, Spurrier made it clear that he plans to be around for a while and told fans not to listen to “enemies.” Spurrier also wanted to make it clear that just because a lot of people are down on the Gamecocks this year after a 7-6 record last season, it doesn’t mean that his team won’t have a good year in 2015. “We’ve won a lot of games,” Spurrier said. “We’re not too proud of what

happened last year, but we’re coming back. We’ve got a dang good team this year and I just want the Gamecocks out there to know it.” Count Spurrier’s players as some of the people that were listening to him and they’re looking forward to going out on the field and backing up their Head Ball Coach’s words. “It’s motivation for the team knowing that our coach is behind us 100 percent,” junior Pharoh Cooper said.

“We’re just ready to go out there and play.” Spurrier’s competitiveness and fire are some of the major reasons why the players came to South Carolina in the first place. “That’s why I came here, to play for an energetic coach,” junior T.J. Holloman said. “It shows he’s still passionate about the game no matter what’s going on.” The Gamecocks aren’t paying any at-

tention to the talk that South Carolina is trending down. They know that one 7-6 season isn’t going to define who they are. It was just a couple of years ago when the Gamecocks notched their third straight 11-win season and finished No. 4 in the country. “I think that’s how everyone on the team feels right now,” senior Mike Matulis said. “With all the hype against us, we’re going to come out and try and shock the world and let people know that we’re here to play football. A lot of people out there have been kind of dogging us, but we’ll just have to go out there and prove it.” For the players, it was great to see their head coach stand up not only for himself, but also for the team. That’s the kind of guy that all the players want to play for. “He’s a great coach and I love playing for him,” Matulis said. “I hope he has as many years left in him as he wants to coach. That he still wants to be out there as much as we do is a great thing to have, especially coming from your head coach.”


Spurs & Feathers Executive Editor Brian Hand recently sat down with South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin to talk about a number of different topics. S&F: You obviously have a tremendous passion for the game of basketball. What is it about the game that made you want to become a basketball coach? Basketball is the last sport that I picked up. It’s the sport my grandmother played in Cuba, but it’s the last sport I ever picked up. Once I got around it, it’s the sport I knew I wanted to be a part of. Even when I got my first coaching job it wasn’t like “hey, I like this job.” No, it was my high school coach said, “hey, I need you to do this” and I said “okay” because I wasn’t going to say no to him and here we are 31 years later and it’s worked out pretty good. I got into coaching to help the guys in my neighborhood. That’s it. That’s all I ever aspired to do. The same way that people in my neighborhood helped me, I got into to coaching to help that next group of guys in our neighborhood. And it went from the helping the guys that were my age group and just a little bit younger to helping them and helping the younger brothers of people in my neighborhood to then the children of the people I grew up with. That’s still who I am today. When I walk out on the floor, I’m not trying to win a game, I’m still that guy that’s trying to help the guys. I go in their homes and I tell their parents that I’m going to stay in their child’s corner in their journey to be a man. And that’s who I am. I don’t deviate from that. S&F: At Gamecock Club events, on social media and in many other places the excitement for your program coming into this new season is extremely high. Obviously as a head coach, I’m sure in your mind you are

only worried about the next game, but how thrilled are you to see so many people talking Gamecock men’s basketball even in the summer? It’s been fun. Heck, my first year, I couldn’t get people to talk basketball during the season. When you think back to the simple fact that the first game I ever walked out of the tunnel as the head coach at the University of South Carolina there were roughly 3,500 people in the stands and then you go into the locker room and you’re down 15 at the half (South Carolina eventually won, 82-75, over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in overtime), I was sitting there by myself thinking and all I could think of was “oh boy, what’d I get myself into?” But now you hit fast forward and you average over 11,000 fans a couple years later and you’ve got people talking about men’s basketball in the summer, it’s rewarding that the efforts of our staff, our players, our marketing department and the University leaders that all our efforts are kind of connecting and we’re heading in the right direction. S&F: Speaking of the summer, your team just recently completed its second “8K in 8 Days” campaign. Just like last year the campaign was a huge success around the community. Brian Steele told us he couldn’t stop smiling about it and Sindarius Thornwell said even the freshmen were having a blast being involved.

As a head coach, it has to be refreshing that your student-athletes are so committed to helping out in the community. It’s so important. Like what we were just talking about, “why did I get into coaching?” - to help the people in my neighborhood. Well, we have a responsibility when you play a sport and we have the opportunity whether it’s to have my job or have your school paid for because you play basketball and you travel in chartered planes when you are the road, you get all these perks and it’s great. But it’s so important that we keep perspective of our main responsibility and that’s to take advantage of this platform we’ve been given to help the next person. It’s our jobs to make this a better place, whether it’s from a college senior to the incoming freshman or whenever my time here is done to make sure when the next guy comes in that this is a better place than when we all arrived. And also giving back to your community. We have a responsibility that the more success we have, the more we have to give back. We have to be involved. It’s so important for these players that when they go out and become an accountant, an attorney, a plumber, a person working for the state or a basketball player for the next 15 years of their life after they’re done with us that they understand that it’s not

about them, it’s about going back and giving to the community, to the people that helped you. And that’s a big responsibility of mine and we have to teach that to our guys every day. S&F: Your program has one of the top facilities in college basketball and you have one of the top fan bases in college basketball as you just finished this past year in the top-35 in the country and in the top-4 in the SEC in attendance. When you are pitching the Gamecock experience to recruits what do you tell them? It’s hard to find a place where you’re going to have the backing of your administrators, your community, your fans regardless of winning and losing. I don’t dwell on the lack of success that we’ve had here over the “x number” of years, I dwell that on the fact that even through difficult times, Gamecock fans stay with you. They’re there with you and as we build our program, it’s our responsibility to play the game a certain way where we earn the right to go win games. And then those fans will become even bigger and greater. That’s the biggest thing that the total commitment that our administration, obviously the coaching staff, that the community and our fans have to our students - that they come out and support them. And all that they ask is that they respect the opportunity that they’ve been given and our guys get that and in return our fans are tremendous with them. S&F: You said coming out of the past season that the summer is about the players working hard individually so they can help the team during the seasons. In the limited interaction you are able to have with them during the summer are things progressing the way you expected? It’s the first time since I’ve been here where we actually have leadership, where we have guys helping other guys. For the last two years, Michael Carrera, no one helped him, Laimonas (Chatkevicius), Mindaugas (Kacinas), no one helped them. They had to figure stuff out on their own and then last year, you start adding Sindarius (Thornwell), Duane (Notice), Justin (McKie) and


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those guys, you started tasting success because we had a little bit of leadership. Not much, but just a little bit. We had a better understanding from being scarred from the year before where we did work hard, but we lost. So, we started tasting winning and success and we didn’t handle that very good, mentally or physically. We can’t control the physical part, but we can control the mental part. At the end of the day, all those experiences combined, the guys that are here that have stayed through it have galvanized and they’ve united and now here this summer you’re starting to see players just get a lot better. And you’re starting to see freshmen have older guys help them, which then makes learning easier. Our guys are on board. I’ve got no complaints. The guys that we’ve got in the locker room right now are fully on board to sacrifice and give to go figure out a way to take an unbelievable ride together. S&F: Scott Greenawalt has been with you for quite some time and you often refer to him as the most valuable person on your coaching staff as the strength and conditioning coach. Just like with the team on the court, is it night and day in regards to the strength your players have now entering year No. 4 at South Carolina? Have they embraced the strength program the way you desire as a head coach? It’s incredible. We see them every day, so we tend not to notice some of the differences, but when you see their pictures, what their bodies look like now compared to what they looked - and I’m going to use the three seniors as examples - their first

time here, it’s night and day. When you see the numbers on paper whether it be body fat, which to me is the biggest indicator of an athlete - higher lean muscle, lower body fat and then you see those numbers start to move in the right direction and you see the improvements made in those numbers along with whether it be vertical jump or just inner core or bench press or squatting or whatever the exercise, you see it’s a finely tuned athlete and that’s why Scott is our MVP. That gives us not just the physical presence that we need, but also the mental toughness and commitment you’ve got to have to figure out a way to succeed. S&F: McDonald’s All-American P.J. Dozier headlines an incoming class that is very highly thought of nationally. You talked about after the season that you had some needs you had to fill and you and your staff were working hard to look for help in particular areas that you knew fit best with your system. Do you feel like you accomplished that with this class? On paper. On paper, we needed to be more athletic on the perimeter and (we added) Jamall Gregory and P.J. Dozier. It’s hard to find two guys more athletic than them. We needed more size up front. Well, (we added) Raymond Doby, Chris Silva and Eric Cobb. Those three guys have size. I also thought we needed to be a little more athletic on the frontline and Ray Doby and Chris Silva they are in the above average category for athletic players. Then Cobb’s just got great feet, great hands, big as a house and I think he’s got a chance to be a real good one too, so on paper and through the summer, I’m extremely, extremely comfortable and pleased with the guys we got to complement our team. S&F: You’ve spoken quite candidly about you having the returning pieces in place along with the newcomers that you have coveted since your arrival. You also said recently that three years into the job you feel like your guys are where you need to be to start competing for postseason spots and SEC championships, which as we all know is the one thing that drives you daily. What makes this group so special that you

have that thought process? Their commitment to one another. As you go through losing and winning, you learn about each other. You learn a lot about the people. There’s some warts that can be hidden when you’re winning, but they’re fully exposed when you’re losing. That’s why you have to understand when there are some immaturities that don’t make you bad. Just some immaturities that aren’t conducive and sometimes they are hidden because you’re winning. Well, both experiences make you have a better feel for the guys and then when you go through all of that and you go in the next day and you work even harder then those guys start respecting each other in the locker room. They know that it’s not about a single one of them. It’s about the single unity of all of them that’s going to give us the best chance to succeed. When you’ve got a group of guys that get that, they start to respect each other and they start to understand the necessity for one another. We’re getting there. It’s real fun to be around that

genuine commitment that those guys have for one another. S&F: Finally, you always talk about not wanting to be anywhere but South Carolina. What is it about the University of South Carolina that makes you so proud daily to be a Gamecock? The people. Great community, great people, great fan base. You’re the state school. The name of the state is what your school goes by. It’s unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable place. I’m all about people. You can have great buildings and tremendous facilities and more money than God, but if the people aren’t very good, it makes for a miserable experience. Yet, you can have no facilities, the dumpiest locker room in the world and have real good people and your job can be done and you love what you do. Here, we’ve actually got both. We’ve got a great place, great facilities, great fans, great people and it’s hard to believe that there are too many other schools in the country that can have all of those things that I just mentioned connected like we have them here.


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by kyle heck Reporter

Smith, a fourth-round pick. Also gone is leading tackler Josh Forrest but the Wildcats do return A.J. Stamps, who started all 12 games at safety last year. GAME 1: vs. North Carolina The Gamecocks defeated Kentucky, 35(Charlotte - 09/03) 28, in the Wildcats’ last trip to Columbia For the second time in three seasons, in 2013. the Gamecocks will open up the season against the Tar Heels. However, GAME 3: @ Georgia (09/19) this game will be in Charlotte, North Carolina instead of Williams-Brice Sta- South Carolina returns to its rivalry dium, where South Carolina defeated with the Bulldogs in the Gamecocks’ North Carolina, 27-10, in 2013. Just like first true road game of 2015. South two seasons ago, North Carolina will Carolina has had Georgia’s number bring a talented offense into the game. recently, winning three out of the last The Tar Heels return 10 starters on of- four matchups. However, the Bulldogs fense from last year, including all five won the last meeting in Athens, 41-30. offensive lineman. Senior quarterback Gone is star tailback Todd Gurley and Marquise Williams returns to lead the quarterback Hutson Mason, but Georoffense, which averaged a shade under gia will still have a running game that 430 yards of offense per game last year. could be one of the best in the country. The Tar Heels will hope the addition of Tailback Nick Chubb is coming off of a former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik freshman season in which he averaged as defensive coordinator will shore up a 7.1 yards per carry on the way to 1,547 historically bad defense in 2014. North rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Carolina gave up 497.8 yards and 39 Senior Keith Marshall and sophomore points per game last year on defense Sony Michel will give the Bulldogs a foras the Tar Heels compiled a 6-7 record. midable three-headed rushing attack. It still isn’t clear who will take over at quarterback but Virginia transfer GreyGAME 2: vs. Kentucky (09/12) son Lambert immediately becomes the In the 2015 SEC and home opener, most experienced option. On defense, the Gamecocks will take on Kentucky, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt a team that stunned South Carolina enters his second season looking to last year in Lexington when the Wild- further solidify the Bulldog defense. cats came from behind to sneak away They lost their top two tacklers from with a 45-38 victory. Four starters on last year but linebackers Jordan Jenkins the offensive line return, as well as se- and Leonard Floyd return to anchor the nior quarterback Patrick Towles, who middle for Georgia. accounted for over 3,000 yards of offense last year. Kentucky was a surpris- GAME 4: vs. Central Florida (09/26) ing team midway through last year as The second home game of the seathey won five of their first six games. However, that disappeared quickly as son will complete a home-and-home the Wildcats lost their final six games series with the Knights. The Gamecocks of the year to finish at 5-7 and miss out defeated UCF, 28-25, in Orlando two on a bowl game. Senior tailback Braylon seasons ago. Save for the loss of star Heard and junior Jojo Kemp return for receiver Breshad Perriman to the NFL, Kentucky to give the team a formidable the Knights will return a large chunk of rushing attack along with Towles. On the offense with starting quarterback defense, the Wildcats lost star pass Justin Holman, who threw for 23 touchrushers Alvin Dupree, who was a first- downs and nearly 3,000 yards last year round NFL draft pick, and Za’Darius and leading rusher William Stanback,

14 • SPURS & FEATHERS

who recorded 697 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Defense could be a concern for UCF as they lost their top five tacklers from a season ago. Defensive lineman Thomas Niles is the leading returning tackler with 49 stops. However, he did lead the Knights with 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2014. UCF returns just one other player on defense who started all 13 games last year, but he’s a good one. Defensive back Jacoby Glenn had a team-high seven interceptions and tied for the team lead with 11 pass breakups last year on his way to being named an AP second-team All-American.

GAME 5: @ Missouri (10/03) If this game is anything like the last time these two teams played in Columbia, Missouri, it should be an instant classic. The Gamecocks overcame a 17-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Tigers, 27-24, in double overtime two years ago. Missouri, who is the two-time defending SEC East champions, return starting quarterback Maty Mauk, but a lot of his weapons from 2014 are gone. While leading rusher Russell Hansbrough is back after a 1,000 yard season, Marcus Murphy, who was a threat out of the backfield and as a receiver, is off to the NFL. At receiver, the Tigers lose their top four targets from 2014, including 24 of the 25 receiving touchdowns recorded from the group. Tight end Sean Culkin is the leading returning threat and he had 20 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown in 14 games last year. It’s a similar situation on defense as Missouri will have to move on from defensive linemen Shane Ray and Markus Golden, both of whom are now in the NFL and combined for 42.5 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks last season.

GAME 6: vs. LSU (10/10) The third home contest of the year welcomes the Tigers, a perennial SEC power, to Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time since 2008, when No. 13 LSU

defeated the Gamecocks, 24-17. The last meeting overall between the two came in 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when LSU edged out then No. 3 South Carolina. This year, the Tigers could easily be ranked in the top-five when they visit Columbia. Star sophomore tailback Leonard Fournette is back after a freshman campaign in which he rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Anthony Jennings is also back after passing for 1,611 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014. Five of the top six receiving targets from a year ago return to help Jennings continue to improve. As usual, the Tigers did lose a lot of talent to the NFL. Gone is leading tackler Kwon Alexander (90 tackles), but linebacker Kendell Beckwith is back after making 77 stops in 2014 to go along with two sacks and an interception. While also losing their top sack leader and tackle for loss leader, the Tigers do return Tre’Davious White and Rickey Jefferson, two talented defensive backs who both had two interceptions last year to tie for the team lead.

GAME 7: vs. Vanderbilt (10/17) The Gamecocks will welcome in a Vanderbilt team that will be hoping to bounce back from a tough season in head coach Derek Mason’s first year. The Commodores struggled to a 3-9 record and went winless in the SEC. One of the major changes for Vanderbilt this year is that Mason, a talented defensive genius, will be the primary defensive play caller along with handling his head coaching duties. There will be plenty of experience for this year’s team as 21 starters return for the Commodores. Leading the offense is talented tailback Ralph Webb, who was 50 yards shy of a 1,000 yard season last year. Tight end Steven Scheu is back after leading all SEC tight ends with 39 receptions and was second in the league with 525 receiving yards. South Carolina will again have to deal with return specialist Darrius Sims, who


ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns in the loss to the Gamecocks in Nashville, Tennessee last season. The last meeting between the two in Columbia came in 2013 when South Carolina knocked off the Commodores, 35-25.

GAME 8: @ Texas A&M (10/31) South Carolina will get the luxury of an off week before this Halloween clash out west and the Gamecocks will be looking for revenge. The Aggies defeated South Carolina, 52-28, at Williams-Brice Stadium in the season opener of 2014. This season, Texas A&M also has the potential to be ranked as one of the top teams in the country when they take on the Gamecocks. The Aggies led the entire SEC in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2014. On defense, sensational sophomore Myles Garrett will look to build off of a record-breaking freshman season. The defensive end broke former Gamecock Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman sack record in the SEC when he made 11.5 quarterback stops last year. He also added 53 tackles, 14 for loss and 10 quarterback hurries.

GAME 9: @ Tennessee (11/07) The Gamecocks will enter Knoxville, Tennessee looking to snap a twogame losing streak to the Vols. Tennessee knocked off the Gamecocks, 45-42, in overtime in Columbia last season. That came after Tennessee used a last-second field goal to beat the Gamecocks, 23-21, in South Carolina’s last trip to Neyland Stadium in 2013. The Vols return a host of talent from a team that went 7-6 in 2014. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, leading rusher Jalen Hurd and leading receiver Alton “Pig” Howard all come back for Tennessee. The case is the same on defense. 2014 sack leader Curt Maggitt (11 sacks) is back to anchor the line for the Vols while defensive back Brian Randolph returns after racking up 88 tackles last year, which was good enough for third in the SEC by a defensive back. Randolph’s secondary mate Cameron Sutton rejoins him after a season in which he recorded 37 tackles, four for loss and a team-high 16 passes defended.

GAME 10: vs. Florida (11/14) After knocking off the Gators in overtime in Gainesville last year, the Gamecocks will carry a two-game winning streak over Florida into this matchup. It’s also the first game of a three-game homestand to close out the regular season. The Gators are coming off of a 7-5 season that resulted in the firing of Will Muschamp, who is now the defensive coordinator at Auburn. Florida brings Jim McElwain over from Colorado State to replace Muschamp. He’ll inherit a team that brings back sophomore Treon Harris at quarterback. Harris started the final six games of the season last year and compiled a 4-2 record. He loses leading rusher Matt Jones, but back is Kelvin Taylor, who rushed for 565 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. The unquestioned leader of the defense will be senior linebacker Antonio Morrison, who racked up a team-high 101 tackles last year en route to being named second-team All-SEC. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. was a first-round NFL draft pick, but the Gators still have the services of defensive lineman Alex McCalister, who had 23 tackles, nine for loss and six sacks in 2014, which trailed only Fowler Jr.

GAME 11: vs. The Citadel (11/21) T he Game cocks’ only FCS opponent of the season, the Bulldogs will bring their tripleoption offense into Williams-Brice Stadium in the second to last game of the year. The Citadel is coming off of a 5-7 record in 2014 where they lost 3712 at Florida State in their only game against a Power 5 conference foe. This will be the first meeting between the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs

since 2011, when South Carolina rolled to a 41-20 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Citadel will have to replace starting quarterback Aaron Miller, who rushed for a team-high 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns last year while also passing for 932 yards and seven scores.

GAME 12: vs. Clemson (11/28) The 35-17 defeat at Clemson in 2014 will surely be fresh in the mind of the Gamecocks when they take on the Ti-

gers in the annual rivalry game. That victory by the Tigers last year snapped a five-game winning streak by South Carolina in the series. Helping out the Gamecocks is the fact that the series will return to Columbia, where South Carolina rolled to a 31-17 win in 2013. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson will be the main offensive threat for the Tigers this upcoming year. As a freshman, Watson passed for 1,466 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions in eight games played. On defense, the Tigers will have to replace the entire defensive line. It was a good one that helped Clemson lead the nation in total defense in 2014. Linebacker Ben Boulware and defensive back Mackensie Alexander are a couple of the talented defensive players that do return for Clemson.


work and I’m excited about what we’re doing and I’m continually rewarded with each class of guys that go out to see what they’ve accomplished. You really feel like Mark Berson had a decision to make. the old saying, ‘when you love what you It was 1978 and just one year earlier in do, you never work a day in your life.’ I his first season as a college head coach in think that’s kind of really the feeling that the 1977 season he had led The Citadel I have. This has been my life’s work, but it to the school’s best-ever record at 11-5. wasn’t planned.” At the time, Berson had aspirations of moving into the administration side The beginning of South of college athletics and actually had an Carolina men’s soccer offer from the College of Charleston to work in their athletics department. When Berson decided to take the He also had an offer to come to the South Carolina head coaching position University of South Carolina and start it was head football coach and athletics the men’s soccer program. director Jim Carlen who hired him for Ultimately, Berson made the decision the spot. to come to South Carolina and the rest Berson began his duties at South Carois history. lina in March of 1978 knowing that the “It was one of those juncture points Gamecocks’ first-ever men’s soccer camthat people have in their career and I paign kicked off on Sept. 1 of that year. felt like, well, an opportunity to start a “Coach Carlen and (former South Caroprogram from scratch is unique,” Berson lina athletics administrator) John Moore said. “That was what was made, and I they basically gave me a computer figured I could get into administration printout of the budget and that was at some point, but the opportunity to it,” Berson said of his arrival. “We didn’t coach and to start it from scratch was a have any players, we didn’t have a field really unique thing.” constructed, we didn’t have a schedule That particular move into administra- and we didn’t have any equipment. We tion never happened as Berson has been had to get all of those things. We had to with the University of South Carolina get players, we had to get the field sorted since the program’s inaugural season out. I mean there was a soccer field, but in 1978. it was an intramural field … and actually As he prepares to enter his 38th season one day our players in practice we were in charge of the Gamecock men’s soccer unloading the bleachers off of the truck program, Berson could not be happier for them to build the bleachers. No unithat he made the decision to come to forms, so we had to get all of the gear.” South Carolina. There may have been no players when “Here’s the thing,” Berson noted. “I he started, but it did not take long for love coaching. Honestly I get up every Berson’s first grouping of players to make day and I’m excited about coming into a statement that Gamecock men’s socby brian hand Executive Editor

16 • SPURS & FEATHERS

cer would be a player for years to come. “It was a tremendous challenge and that first year I think we went 13-3,” Berson relayed. “We nearly went to the NCAA Tournament in our first year. And in the second year, we did go to the NCAA Tournament. That was a really incredibly busy, exciting, challenging time. I really enjoyed it.” Berson knows that without that first grouping the place of South Carolina men’s soccer in the pantheon of college soccer programs might not be where it is today. “I’m forever indebted to those first guys that came here on faith that we would do a good job and that we would have a winning program,” Berson said. “They could’ve gone anywhere and they chose us. That first group in the 1978-79 year was really special. We were able to bring players from our club team and build them into a recruiting class and make it happen from there.”

Hall of Famer Entering his 38th season at the helm of Gamecock men’s soccer, the past offseason has been a reflective one for Berson as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) recently bestowed upon him the prestigious Bill Jeffrey Award, which is given annually to an individual for outstanding service or achievement in intercollegiate soccer. In addition it was also recently announced that Berson would be entering the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in September of this year. He will be joining six of his former players that are already in the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

All of the above honors are more than fitting because in the previous 37 seasons in charge of the South Carolina men’s soccer program, Berson has guided the Gamecocks to 472 victories, which is the most among active coaches in NCAA Division I. One of only three coaches in history currently to have led their squads to 450 or more wins at the Division I level, Berson has also taken the Gamecocks to 20 NCAA Tournaments with his 1988 and 1993 teams making the Final Four. The 1993 team played in the national championship game. In addition, Berson has helmed South Carolina to four conference championships in the 12 seasons that the Gamecocks have had a conference affiliation. Presently since the SEC does not sponsor men’s soccer, the Gamecock men’s soccer program is a member of one of the top college soccer conferences in the country in Conference USA. Just last year the Gamecocks played for the Conference USA Tournament title. A lot has obviously happened at South Carolina since Berson’s arrival, but he could not be more thankful for the commitment that the University has made to his program and the beautiful game in general. “It’s been a really great commitment on the part of the University of South Carolina and the board of trustees and the athletics directors through the years to support our game,” Berson remarked. “For instance, in 1978-79, I don’t know how many women’s soccer programs there were in the state of South Carolina in high school. There were some, but not many. Now, of course, every high


school has a women’s soccer team. And the men’s programs, they were few and far between. And now every high school has a men’s soccer team.” Berson knows that the University of South Carolina has had a lot to do with the growth of the game of soccer in the Palmetto State. “You look at the growth of the game in the United States and then you look at the growth of the game in South Carolina and then I think it’s to the University’s credit that the University has built our facilities and now we have a great fan base, one of the best in the country on the men’s side, as far as attendance,” Berson said. “And that’s largely due to the amount of success our players have had and the loyalty of people to the University of South Carolina, but it’s also due to the fact that all these students now grew up going to watch high school soccer men’s and women’s. So when they come here, it’s not an unusual concept to go to a soccer game. It’s all part of a natural growth and the University to its credit has been very gracious in enhancing that growth at the athletics department level to keep pace with the general demand of interest in the game.” That interest includes things like the Gamecock men’s soccer program having a presence on televisions and on the Internet now through avenues like SEC Network + where every South Carolina home game is able to be streamed live. The Gamecocks also played on national television last year in the Conference USA Tournament championship game. Berson is proud of this because he knows that even with his own stadium packed night in and night out even more people are still getting the opportunity to watch at home with him utilizing the example of last year’s thrilling Gamecock 2-1 double overtime win over rival Clemson at Stone Stadium. The Gamecock win over the Tigers at “The Graveyard” before a standing room only crowd was also the second-most watched SEC Network + event during the fall for South Carolina athletics. “I think that the attendance figures and all the things that we have support that,” Berson said. “That’s gratifying, so when you talk about all those things, I think that the University needs to take credit for all those things because they’re the ones that said, ‘yes, we’re going to do that, yes we’re going to support that and yes, we’re going to make this happen.’ I’m just very, very thankful for that.”

It goes beyond wins and losses Berson has coached 11 individual AllAmericans as well as numerous professional soccer standouts and he also has had United States national team stars such as Clint Mathis, Josh Wolff and Brad

Guzan suit up for him at South Carolina. But to Berson that’s just part of the story as he is just as proud of those that have used their South Carolina degrees to become doctors, lawyers and much more. “It’s one of those things that, as a parent, you realize in hindsight so many of the things that happened in your life with your children and you kind of understand and get a great perspective on the things that they have accomplished and maybe a little bit of how you influenced their lives,” Berson mused. “Well, it’s the same thing with the players. All of these players that came here chose the University of South Carolina, so the University of South Carolina shaped their lives. The soccer program was one of the main reasons that they chose the University, so that shaped their lives. When we have our alumni game and guys come back and we see them on social media, it’s a wonderful thing.” The support from former players at home games and even on the road is something that Berson truly holds dear. “When we play out of town and they come to games, you just see how much participating on the soccer team and playing for the Gamecocks meant to these guys and their lives,” Berson said. “That to me is the most special thing because that goes beyond wins and losses. It really does. A lot of times you

hear coaches talk about that and people in athletics talk about that. It really does mean a lot to them, their involvement in this soccer program. This soccer program intertwined their love of the game, which brought them to South Carolina with the University and so it became a holistic experience for them here. In the end, it makes them the person that they are.” When those Gamecocks depart for Berson and his coaching staff it is tough, but they know they are moving on to bigger and better things. “Like your child, as they grow up, they go out, right? But they never forget and so to me, that is, each player is an individual story and there are so many that obviously you can’t reflect on all of them all the time, but as they renew themselves into your life, as they contact you or you see them or as you talk to somebody who talked to somebody, you just realize the tremendous worldwide reach and fabric that these guys have brought the University of South Carolina’s soccer program to on a world basis,” Berson said. “It’s kind of like this interwoven mesh and they’re all meshed together. Even the ones that are here now are meshed in with the guys from 1978-79. They may never know each other or run into each other, but sometimes they do and it’s a great thing.”

Appreciation Robert Frost would truly appreciate Berson’s career. Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” concludes with these words: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” Berson’s decision to start the South Carolina men’s soccer program in 1978 has meant a great deal to a lot of people with his former student-athletes and Gamecock fans everywhere thankful he put in the work to make the program a success. But for the new USC Athletic Hall of Famer thinking back on it now it all comes back to this - “great gratitude.” “A real feeling of thankfulness for the opportunity to be involved in such a great sport with so many guys lives that you touch and both as players, assistant coaches, trainers and managers over the years,” Berson said. “It’s kind of the same feeling you have when we go on the road and play in different cities around the United States and our alumni from that area show up. We always have a wonderful showing of not only our parents, but those people. It’s really great thanks and great gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity that has been given to me over the years to coach here.” SPURS & FEATHERS •

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by kyle heck Reporter A little more than three years ago at the South Carolina football spring game, former Gamecock greats Langston Moore and Preston Thorne started throwing around the idea of doing a children’s book based on Cocky and the other SEC mascots. It was just all talk at first and the two forgot about the idea for a little while. Things didn’t start getting serious until Thorne found award-winning illustrator and designer Kev Roché while at work one day. Seeing that he was from Irmo and a Gamecock fan, Thorne thought it would be a good idea to try and get Roché on board for the story. “So we had to go recruit him,” Thorne said. As it turned out, the two former defensive lineman didn’t have to do much recruiting to get Roché on board. A 2005 graduate of South Carolina, Roché had remembered Thorne and Moore from their playing days and had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book. In addition, Roché, who has done work for ESPN’s SVP & Russillo radio show said drawing SEC mascots is “all I do anyway ... I thought it was a big opportunity.” Thus was born #JustaChicken, a children’s book about Cocky and his journey to discover the greatness that lies within all of us. Thorne and Moore had already written the content for the book before getting Roché involved and sent him a rough sketch of it for him to read. “It was just on a plain piece of paper, like handwritten,” Roché said. The draft was then sent to Mascot Books, the publisher, who divided

the script into separate pages that allowed Roché to get to work on the illustrations. “Kev did a wonderful job of pulling it out and really tying it in with the story and everything,” Moore said. “It was all a lot of bubble gum and crayons and stickers at first.” Most of the work for the book was done last summer, but it took awhile for the trio to get approval from all of the SEC schools to use the mascots. Mascot Books took care of most of that, but it was a time consuming process that involved a lot of waiting. “We were just waiting on the emails

and it would be like ‘alright, we got half of them done,’” Roché said. “They would come like a month at a time and there would be a little celebration.” There were also things that most people wouldn’t even think would be a problem. Moore said that certain mascots couldn’t be saying certain things to other mascots and they also couldn’t bully each other in the book. Luckily, Mascot Books also took care of that. While Thorne and Moore focused on writing the book, Roché took care of the technical conversations between them and Mascot Books.

Finally, at the beginning of this year, the book was done and ready to be published. Since then, the reception that the trio has gotten about the book has been phenomenal. “That’s really one of the cool experiences of having the book and talking with people and hearing their stories,” Moore said. “That’s probably one of the most gratifying things is being around those folks and getting to relive all of those tales.” The book is currently being sold at Addam’s University Bookstore and Barnes & Noble, as well as on the Mascot Books website. #JustaChicken is


priced at $20.01, a familiar number for South Carolina fans. “It’s funny, when we put it out on Twitter, a few people popped in and were like, ‘I get it,’” Moore said. However, Moore and Thorne said they are really trying to give the book to anyone who wants one. They are working with their connections at the State House to set up something with the area school districts. In addition, Moore and Thorne are hoping to set up something in the Gamecock Park before football games this fall. “We’re trying to coordinate a deal to do a read along before every home game,” Moore said. “Everything going on with the pregame now, it’s such a family atmosphere and there’s so many different things to get in to. It would be cool to add something like that and make it a mainstay.” Because both Thorne and Moore make a lot of public appearances to give pep talks and promote the importance of a good education and good attitude, they plan on taking the same approach with the children’s book. The duo even developed a “letter

of intent” as if they were signing to play for their favorite college team that people could sign. The letter is in coordination with the book’s goal of getting people to be everything that

they can be. “It ties in with some of the speaking stuff that we do,” Moore said. “We kind of came up with the idea of going from just whoever to being whatever you

want to be, more than just a chicken. Then we tied in some marketing things, just to keep it cool and to make sure that everyone stayed connected.” After two years of waiting, working and tinkering, Thorne, Moore and Roché have enjoyed seeing their hard work have an effect on all sorts of people. For Moore, it brought back some memories of his football days when everyone worked together to accomplish a goal. “We all worked toward a common goal and everyone did their part and we are reaping the benefits and blessings of all of it at the end and seeing the whole finished product,” Moore said. “Even if we don’t sell any books, it’s cool to say ‘man, we did it, all the way to the end.’” To learn more about #JustaChicken, please visit https://mascotbooks.com/ mascot-marketplace/buy-books/ south-carolina/justachicken/. You can follow #JustaChicken on Twitter @JustAchicken_. You can also follow the trio involved with the book on Twitter @reMovetheChains, @coachptweets and @kevROSHAY.

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by kyle heck Reporter

4

After three straight 11-win seasons, South Carolina came into 2014 ranked No. 9 in the country and picked to win the SEC East. However, the Gamecocks were unable to get back to that 11-win plateau and went 7-6. While it wasn’t the kind of year the Gamecocks had the previous three seasons, a victory over Miami in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl secured South Carolina’s school-record fourth straight bowl win and yet another winning season, the school-record seventh straight such season under head coach Steve Spurrier. With another new season just around the corner, here are five of the most important storylines that will help South Carolina continue its tradition of winning seasons.

1

New coordinator Jon Hoke: Jon Hoke came over from the Chicago Bears, where he was the secondary coach, to join his old friend the HBC as co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina. He will handle the secondary and be the primary play caller while fellow co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will look after the front seven. With the addition of Hoke, the Gamecocks will move from a 4-2-5 defense to more of a base 4-3 defense. It will simplify things on defense scheme-wise and allow South Carolina to showcase their depth at the linebacker position. While the Gamecocks struggled at times on defense last year, it was a young unit that is now a year older. In addition, the new scheme should allow for fewer mistakes on the field.

2

Young secondary now more experienced: Speaking of getting older, that’s exactly what the South Carolina defensive backs did a season ago. Thrown into the starting lineup, they went through a trial by fire, so to speak. As they got more and more games under their belt, the defense started to improve as a whole, and that was the main reason South Carolina won three of its final four games of the season. In the last four games, the Gamecocks defense gave up 22 points per game. Through the first nine games of the year when South Carolina sat at 4-5, the Gamecocks were giving up 34.1 points per game. Defensive backs Al Harris Jr. and Chris Lammons were two of the freshmen that played a lot last season and are now veteran sophomores. Fourth-year junior Rico McWilliams is another player that has plenty of experience and also showed improvement in 2014.

20 • SPURS & FEATHERS

There will also be more depth this year with the addition of Wesley Green, who redshirted as a freshman last year and will look to get playing time this year. Kansas transfer Isaiah Johnson provides the Gamecocks with veteran experience at safety. Johnson started all 24 games in two seasons with the Jayhawks and was named the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013.

3

A revamped defensive line: One of the biggest areas of concern for the Gamecocks in 2014 was the defensive line. The Gamecocks struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and finished the season with just 14 sacks, which ranked 118th in the country. Spurrier and his staff made the defensive line a priority in the last recruiting cycle and it resulted in seven new defensive lineman for the upcoming season. That includes the No. 1 junior college player in the country in defensive end Marquavius Lewis, who is expected to slide right into a starting role. Dante Sawyer and Ulric Jones are a couple of the other freshmen that have a great chance to play immediately. The new players, along with returnees Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon Jr. and Phillip Dukes should help the Gamecocks turn up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Another factor that could help the line is Ward’s move to defensive line. He’ll be able to help defensive line coach Deke Adams provide the defensive linemen with more hands-on training, which will in turn help the newcomers develop more quickly.

Veteran backfield: With the departure of Mike Davis to the NFL, one might think that the tailback position for the Gamecocks would be a question mark. However, that is not the case. While Davis was able to rush for 2,440 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons at South Carolina, the Gamecocks will return plenty of talent and experience in the backfield. Fifth-year senior Brandon Wilds is the projected starter. The Blythewood native has rushed for 1,277 yards on 256 carries, good for five yards per carry, in his time with the program. He’s shown he can carry the load, stepping up big in the past when Davis and former great Marcus Lattimore went down with injuries. Wilds has made 11 starts and has recorded four 100-yard rushing games in his career. Talented sophomore David Williams will provide South Carolina with a dual-threat at the tailback position. He showed flashes as a redshirt freshman in 2014, rushing for 256 yards and two touchdowns on just 45 carries. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native also added 99 receiving yards on seven receptions. That duo plus Shon Carson and maybe even some other contributors at the position will help ease the load on the new starter at quarterback, which will more than likely be Connor Mitch. The Gamecocks have been known for talented running backs and a strong running game over the past several years and that shouldn’t change in 2015.

5

Pharoh Cooper: Anytime you have a first-team All-SEC performer returning to your squad, that can only mean good things. The nifty and versatile wide receiver ranked second in the SEC last season with 1,136 receiving yards on 69 receptions, which ranked third in the league. That trailed only Alabama’s Amari Cooper, who went on to be drafted No. 4 overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2015 NFL Draft. The junior has shown he can play virtually any position in his career with the Gamecocks. Coming into the program as a defensive back, Cooper switched to offense and quickly became the go-to receiver and South Carolina’s wildcat quarterback. In 24 games, 13 starts, Cooper has collected 402 rushing yards, 107 passing yards, 1,190 receiving yards, 359 kickoff return yards and 115 punt return yards. He will also help the new starter at quarterback and is now the leader of a young, but talented, receiving corps. Cooper will help develop players like Deebo Samuel, Christian Owens, Shaq Davidson and Terry Googer, all of whom hope to take some of the pressure off the potential All-American.


“If the rivalry wasn’t big enough already, we’ve just taken it to another level.” Ray Tanner’s words after the press conference to officially announce the launch of the inaugural Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series in the rotunda at the South Carolina State House could not be more true. The South Carolina-Clemson rivalry is one that dates back a long time. In fact, the rivalry on the gridiron is the thirdlongest continuous rivalry in college football and the longest uninterrupted rivalry in the South. The first football game between the two institutions took place on Nov. 12, 1896 with South Carolina garnering a 12-6 victory. With the 2015 football season starting, Tanner is excited to give the rivalry series a name and enhance it even that much further, particularly with the Olympic sports. “It is exciting and I’m a little bit surprised that it has taken this long to get here,” Tanner, who was joined at the press conference by Clemson Athletics Director Dan Radakovich and SCDA Commissioner Hugh Weathers, said. Presented by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series will give the winner of the season series in head-to-head competition, including sports in which both teams are competing only as part of multiple-team tournaments, one point in each of these sports: baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, women’s cross country, women’s diving and volleyball. Other point opportunities are available through food drives to feed the hungry in South Carolina and academ-

ics with the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series taking into account the average of the fall and spring GPAs of every student-athlete that participates throughout the year. As South Carolina’s Athletics Director, Tanner considers having the opportunity to include the food drive and academic portion of the series “very important.” “It’s all about the community service for our student-athletes,” Tanner stated. “Yes, they go to school and they do very, very well in the classroom and they play sports, but they’re also immersed in each of our respective communities. It’s great that we have both of those initiatives involved. It will be fun. It will be exciting.” South Carolina head baseball coach Chad Holbrook, who was joined by new Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee at the press conference, is looking forward to the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series. “I think it’s great for both schools,” Holbrook relayed. “Obviously the rivalry is not going to be increased any more because of this series because it’s already at a high level, but I think it will bring great notoriety for the Olympic sports because what happens on the soccer field or the volleyball court is very, very important too and I think it will kind of create some interest from our fans as well. I think it’s a great concept and I’m looking forward obviously to being a part of it. One of the great things about being a coach and a player at South Carolina - and I’m sure it’s the same way at Clemson - is being a part of this rivalry. It’s a gift and it’s really, really neat and special to be a part of it.” The first-year of the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series could obviously end in a tie, but Tanner doesn’t think that will be the case. “I don’t think it’s going to end in a tie, but if it ends in a tie, we’ll find a way to settle it that’s for sure,’ Tanner said.

The winner of each year’s Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series will receive the Palmetto Series trophy. The trophy has not been unveiled just yet with Tanner noting “it’s going to be created and it will be a beauty, I assure you.”

Where will the trophy reside after year one? “Let’s hope that it will be in Columbia,” Tanner closed. To learn more about the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series, please visit www.PalmettoSeries.com.

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by brian hand Executive Editor It’s no secret that athletic departments across the country are envious of the University of South Carolina. South Carolina has something that almost any other program in the country would trade for in an instant and that is a fan base that is incredibly passionate about all things Gamecock. Couple the passionate Gamecock fan base with an emerging athletics program and it’s easy to see why so many Gamecock programs are in the mix for championships in the SEC and nationally. “We have a tremendous fan base,” South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said in the fall of 2014. “Our product is as good as it has ever been across the board. Our fans are engaged. This is my 19th academic year at this University. We have evolved into a different intercollegiate athletics program than what existed many years ago. There are expectations. There is a mindset and culture that didn’t exist many years ago that we enjoy today across the entire athletics department.” When it comes to proving that Gamecock fans are among the best in the nation all one has to do is go down the line and look at the numbers and it’s not just at Gamecock football games where home games at Williams-Brice Stadium were filled to over 100 percent capacity each and every game. South Carolina also led the country in women’s basketball attendance and were in the top-35 in the country for men’s basketball. The South Carolina women’s soccer team was second in attendance in the country, while the men’s soccer team was sixth nationally in the category. The historically-rich South Carolina baseball program finished third in the country in attendance. Unbelievable fan base or not, a grouping of individuals at South Carolina still have to daily grind to make sure Gamecock fans know of what is happening in Gamecock Country. That group is South Carolina sports marketing and its leader Associate AD/ Chief Marketing Officer Eric Nichols just recently served a term as the National Association of College Marketing Administrators (NACMA) President. NACMA’s mission is to develop, evaluate, and promote the collegiate athletics marketing profession and its effective-

ness, while upholding the ideals of higher education. NACMA provides educational and professional development opportunities for career advancement in marketing, revenue generation and communication. Nichols’ role as President of the organization this past year obviously means that he is highly thought of in his field across the country, but to him it’s more about what his staff is accomplishing daily. “It does not mean a lot to me individually, but more for my staff who have been with me for so long,” Nichols said of his role as NACMA President in the 2014-15 athletic year. “It kind of shines a light on what we’re doing. It makes me proud that people look in our direction and they see the great things our group does.” Nichols (pictured above right with Mark Hollis, who is the AD at Michigan State and was the Keynote and Hall of Fame inductee at the 2015 NACMA Convention) has been involved with the NACMA board since coming to South Carolina from Vanderbilt in 2008. “When you are on the board you serve, you help put together the convention and serve on committees and things like that,” Nichols relayed. “Once you are on the board, you get the opportunity to be voted by the board to be an officer. Once you are an officer, it’s a rotation to get through to President. You meet twice a year in person and you have weekly calls and each person on the board has different responsibilities for the membership.” In Nichols year at the helm of NACMA, he helped put together a study that was of incredible value to all marketing professionals across the nation. “I’m proud that this year one of the things that was an emphasis was giving

back to the membership, so we commissioned a research study to study why students aren’t coming to games across the country, so we had over 65 schools from all divisions and over 20,000 students respond and we received some fantastic research that provided a benefit back to the membership,” Nichols noted. “Now

they can activate on that and change their plans. South Carolina’s going to have a different plan to drive students than a small school in Idaho. They are different schools, but we needed the data to substantiate that.” The South Carolina sports marketing staff is obviously leading the way nationally and Gamecock fans can be assured they will be leading the way for years to come. “What works here - and it’s different in every market - is a strong digital strategy and a strong grassroots strategy,” Nichols said. “I have a great staff that gets out in the community, that puts plans to get our coaches out in the community and all that fits together when you are collecting email leads or sales leads that can be followed up by our sales teams. It all works together.” To learn more about South Carolina sports marketing and all they do for the University of South Carolina, please visit http://www.gamecocksonline.com/ school-bio/athletics-marketing.html.

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by brian hand Executive Editor In the 2008-09 South Carolina women’s golf campaign, the Gamecock roster featured two key contributors in then senior Meredith Taylor and then freshman Katie Burnett. The two became great friends, but at that particular time the duo were solely focused on doing well in school, helping the Gamecocks win and in their individual playing careers. A sport and entertainment major during her time at the University of South Carolina, Taylor was constantly told by one of her professors that she should look into becoming an agent. “At the time, I kind of disregarded it because my focus was being a player,” Taylor said. Well, fast forward to 2015 and Burnett - then a rising star in the SEC - is now a rising star in the LPGA and Taylor’s once shook off notion that she would be good at being an agent is now a reality as she is presently the agent of her onetime college teammate in Burnett. “The first goal was to play professionally, but now looking back on it, it’s interesting because I still keep in touch with all my professors and they’re very excited for me,” Taylor relayed. “They’re like, ‘we told you you’d be good at it.’ They’ve been really supportive too and I actually sought them out when Katie first approached me and I went and sat down with a lot of my professors to just get that assurance that I’d be

good at this.” Taylor officially becoming Burnett’s representation happened because Burnett (above right) did not feel like she was getting the time and effort from her then agency that she deserved. “They never really worked very hard on trying to help me because I’m a female and I was a rookie and a second-year player and they just didn’t see much money behind that so I was kind of put on the back burner to men,” Burnett commented. “ With Meredith, I’m the only person and … she’s more looking at things that will benefit me rather

then big agencies more about benefiting them and less about being concerned about the actual player and their needs. That’s one of the reasons that I decided that I would like to have her on my team was because I knew that she cared for my best interests more than somebody else would because we have been friends and teammates for so long. “She’s got a really outgoing personality and she’s never had any problems talking to anybody, strangers or anything like that. She’s really good at that and she’s got a very good business mind and she also knows golf. She played professionally for

two or three years and she knows the game. I think it would be much more tough with somebody who’s never played before,” Burnett added. Before even assuming her role as Burnett’s official agent, Taylor (above left) had spent time helping her friend out due to her background. “I was in the financial industry when she first started out (playing professionally) and I was kind of from the sidelines helping her out,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t in a position to be full-time, but with my sport management background, I was still like, ‘you need this, you need


this, this is what you need to look for in an agent.’ You need somebody that is going to give you a 110 percent and focus solely on you to get the job done and that’s what you deserve and that’s what you need to look for. That’s when she jokingly said, ‘well I just need you to do it.’ And since taking over Taylor has been able to help accomplish some big things for the Burnett brand, which includes signing Burnett’s first major sponsor, launching Burnett’s official website and much more. According to Taylor, she has spoken to over 200 companies on Burnett’s behalf and the group is currently in negotiations with a few other major companies.

Never one to rest on her laurels, the learning curve has not been too tough for Taylor because she is daily putting in the hard work. “I don’t know so much of a learning curve because in everything if you work hard, it will pay off,” Taylor mused. “For me, the common denominator if you look at everything I’ve done to this point, the common denominator is just hard work and belief in myself. I kind of draw on past experiences of success and go from there. “I enjoy taking on a challenge and pushing myself. This is a job that requires someone who can talk to a CEO of a Fortune 500

company and hold their own. In New York recently I walked up to the Chairman of KPMG and introduced myself and we ended up speaking for about 15 minutes. I did that with about 10-12 other distinguished guests. Most people tend to be very intimidated by successful or powerful individuals and can’t get out of their comfort zone to even speak. I enjoy speaking to successful leaders, which is what this job requires. I felt like there was no one else who could do what is required and also have Katie’s best interest at heart like a friend and former teammate could. She deserved

someone in her corner that is looking out for her best interest, has a solid business background and at the same time giving her 100 percent. All she has to focus on is to go play golf and have fun living her dream. She can feel confident that she has someone working extremely hard on her behalf,” Taylor closed. To learn more about Burnett, please visit her official website at katieburnettgolf.com/landing/index. You can also follow Burnett on Twitter @KatieBurnett44. Taylor can be followed on Twitter @MerTaylor.


“89 to 0: A century later, the mystery (and controversy) behind South Carolina’s record-setting, nearly forgotten game”

T

he Gamecocks’ oldest record may also be its least revered. On October 6, 1903 – nine years after its football program began – South Carolina defeated Welsh Neck by a score of 89 to 0. The game set records for points and margin of victory that stand to this day. Yet Gamecock fans tend to look at the game – with its odd opponent, outrageous score and antiquated era in which it was played – and not give it much respect. It’s an absurd outlier, a sepia-toned relic from the earliest days of college football, the game barely recognizable from the kind played today. The record evokes more humorous curiosity than actual awe. More than a century later, little is known about the game besides the final score. Who was Welsh Neck? Why did the Gamecocks schedule them? How did it get so horribly, historically one-sided? A search through newspaper articles, university archives, and other materials from that era turned up some interesting findings. The winner of the infamous “89 to 0” game was never in doubt. Everything else about it might be. South Carolina has played dozens of teams throughout its history, from SEC powerhouses to programs that have long since disbanded. Welsh Neck may look out of place on those all-time rolls, but its identity isn’t exactly hidden. The school was actually Welsh Neck High School, a coeducational boarding school located in Hartsville, S.C. The school (it’s been alternately called an academy) opened its doors in September of 1894. Major James Lide Coker, a Civil War veteran and local industrialist, do-

nated several acres of his cotton farm for the campus site. Welsh Neck flourished quickly: by 1902 it had an enrollment of 267 students, compared to 226 at the University of South Carolina. Around that time, South Carolina was becoming a burgeoning power in college football. Led by first-year head coach C.R. “Bob” Williams and his assistant Christie Benet, a former letterwinner and practicing Columbia attorney, USC finished 6-1 in 1902, setting a school record for wins. The most memorable was a 12-6 upset of Clemson at the state fairgrounds in Columbia; the game became notorious for a near-riot that erupted afterwards between armed South Carolina and Clemson students outside the USC horseshoe. The teams wouldn’t play for another seven seasons because of it. The season was notable for another reason: after the Clemson game, a newspaper remarked that South Carolina’s players “fought like game cocks.” The nickname stuck. Riding the optimism of that 1902 season, about 30 men gathered for South Carolina’s first official practice in September of 1903. Several key players had graduated from the “varsity eleven,” but fullback Guy Gunter, an Aiken, S.C., native, returned. The Wyman brothers, Ben and James, joined him in the backfield. Junior Eugene Oliver, the Gamecocks’ bruising 165-pound left tackle, anchored the line. “With Gunter behind the line there is no fear for the bucking qualities of the team,” read an article in The State newspaper. (A football and baseball captain at USC, Gunter’s bravado was well-documented. The State once ran a story of Gunter diving 50 feet off a railway trestle into the Broad River. “Those who saw the feat were enthusiastic in their applause,” the story noted. Offseason shenanigans of players were reported a little differently back then.) Despite the success of the previous sea-

son, the Gamecocks still had concerns. They would be lighter than normal, a potential liability in light of new rules that barred teams from using so-called “heavy” formations between the 25-yard line and the goal line. At the turn of the century offenses still resembled rugbystyle scrums, with ball carriers plowing into the line like battering rams. “To overcome this the team must be made fast, and it is in this direction that Coach Williams is working,” The State wrote in an article September 28, 1903. The article also contained evidence that Welsh Neck may have been a hastily arranged game. The Gamecocks were scheduled to play the Columbia YMCA, a collection of local former college players, to open the season September 30. “Following this game will probably be one with Welsh Neck High school on Tuesday. Bingham [a military academy in Asheville, N.C.] was to have been taken on but was unable to come,” The State noted. As late as nine days before they met, South Carolina and Welsh Neck still hadn’t agreed to a game. Tuesday, October 6, dawned partly cloudy. A light wind feathered in from the southeast. By the time Welsh Neck arrived in Columbia, the temperature had climbed to 85 degrees. For five cents, fans could pick up a morning copy of The State, which ran a preview of the game on page 6 beneath a story with the amusing headline “Use Of Automobiles Is On The Increase.” Tickets cost 25 cents for adults, 10 cents for children, a price the university hoped would attract a larger crowd. The game was played at the “college park,” a likely precursor to Davis Field, on the site of the current Russell House, where South Carolina played its home games before moving to Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks had taken care of their opening opponent, the Columbia YMCA,

24 to 0 the previous Friday. They now turned their attention to the hardy high schoolers from Hartsville. “This school has put out a good team this year and it is strongly reinforced by Sublett and Scaife, the former Furman players who are both instructors at Welsh Neck,” wrote The State. G.C. Scaife, who had played against the Gamecocks the year before, was entering his first season as Welsh Neck’s head coach (curiously, he was also allowed to play for them). The only surviving account of the game comes from a State newspaper article published the following day. The story, which ran a crisp 250 words, lacked basic details like drive summaries, times of scores, and player statistics, elements that are common in today’s reporting. Instead, in broad, occasionally flowery prose, the unnamed reporter pieced together what happened that day at the “college park”: “WHITEWASH BRUSH APPLIED LIBERALLY,” the headline read. The subhed was less sanguine: “LINE PLAYED POORLY.” “The visiting team played gritty ball but were unable to check Carolina’s onslaught,” the reporter wrote, apparently without irony. “The score soon mounted to the point where the game loses interest. After the first few minutes the game became uninteresting to spectators.” Guy Gunter, the Gamecocks’ senior captain and speedy 145-pound fullback, broke off a pair of 40-yard touchdown runs, two of “several” scores he had on the day. James Wyman, the halfback, kicked two field goals and made several long end runs. Oliver, the Gamecocks’ tackle, blocked a kick and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. South Carolina played fast, allaying a concern from the preseason. The rules of the day would have also allowed the Gamecocks to score at a dizzying rate. Back then, teams only had three downs to gain five yards. The


with poor field position often chose to punt on first or second down, a tactical decision that resulted in more possessions throughout the game. Fumbles happened frequently. The author, it appears, was less encouraged by the Gamecocks’ defense. “Carolina’s line showed up poorly, in fact the ‘scrub’ line which was substituted could well give the varsity some excellent points in charging and breaking up plays behind the line,” he wrote. Welsh Neck, it should be noted, only gained one first down (and only needed five yards over three plays to do it). Even to the sportswriter covering it, the game had little intrigue. Only one part of the story stood out. According to The State: “When the game was called the score had been and digitized archives, media guides run up to 78 to 0.” usually pulled their historical material Have we been wrong this whole time? from school yearbooks; that would exIf South Carolina indeed beat Welsh plain how 89 to 0 became the putative Neck 78 to 0 as The State claimed, then score over time. So how did 78 turn into 89? The simthe school records for points and margin of victory would be changed. They plest explanation may be the most likely: would now belong to the 1902 team, the Garnet and Black editor was off by which beat Charleston Medical College a keystroke, and mistakenly typed “89” instead of “7-8.” The following row 80 to 0. The mystery only deepens when look- also had South Carolina beating North ing at the crude scoring summary pub- Carolina 17 to 0; the Gamecocks actually lost that game 17 to 0. Accuracy wasn’t lished by The State: Touch downs – Gunter 11; Wyman 5; exactly the editor’s forte. (Yes, four days after that offensive exOliver 2; Lumpkin, Clarkson. plosion, South Carolina couldn’t muster Goals from touch down 7. a single point against its border rival.) Goals from field – Wyman 2 Unfortunately, both scores lack any Final score 78 to 0. In 1903, touchdowns and field goals corroborating evidence. The State never were worth five points apiece. Conver- mentions the 78-0 score again, and its sions were worth one point. Assuming confusing scoring summary only adds the number beside each player corre- to the doubt. Standardized football box sponded to how many touchdowns he scores were still a few decades away. It scored – Gunter had 11 touchdowns, seems likely that a Garnet and Black ediWyman 5, and so on – South Carolina tor typed the wrong number, but there’s would’ve beaten Welsh Neck by at least no way of knowing for certain. One mistake – in this case, the North 110 to 0. Assuming the Gamecocks scored seven touchdowns and kicked Carolina score – doesn’t prove the extwo field goals, as the next two lines istence of another. Other papers could suggest, the score would have been at provide a clue, but their archives are least 45 to 0. Either way, the numbers either incomplete or missing. The Daily Gamecock, South Carolina’s student don’t add up. Adding to the mystery, The State newspaper, didn’t roll out its first edidoesn’t mention the 78-0 score again, tion until 1908. It doesn’t appear another either in future previews or later cover- contemporary paper, like the Bamberg age of South Carolina and Welsh Neck. In Herald, Lexington Dispatch, or Sumter an article published later that season, The Watchman and Southron, assigned a State didn’t even list the game on USC’s reporter to cover the game. If so, their schedule. The score, it seems, vanishes stories have been lost to the dustbin of into the ether (The State also didn’t list history. Surprisingly, there’s no living the Gamecocks’ win over the Columbia eyewitness for a 112 year-old game. YMCA, suggesting they treated those So which score is to be believed? How can you divine the provenance of one games as exhibitions). The earliest mention of an 89 to 0 score over another? South Carolina’s score appears to come from the 1904 athletic media relations department, Garnet and Black, South Carolina’s stu- weighing the facts, the murky accounts, dent yearbook. It was listed in a section and the consequences of changing a titled “Football Scores,” with no other century-old record, made a decision information given besides the date and this summer. 89 to 0 would stand. Welsh Neck is still location. Before the days of microfilm

met again, but for reasons that are easier to explain. In 1906, the USC Board of Trustees made the controversial decision to ban football after complaints of vulgar chants being sung during games. After widespread protest, the team was reinstated a year later. Welsh Neck kept playing, taking advantage of a newly legal play that allowed smaller, less physical teams to be more competitive. “Their forward passes, if not the most successful, were really the longest seen in this section,” wrote Simon Fogarty, Jr., in Spalding’s Official Foot Ball Guide. A chance to use that innovation against South Carolina would never happen. By the time the Gamecocks reinstated football in October of 1907, Welsh Neck’s schedule was already underway. The folon the hook. lowing year, Welsh Neck’s board of trustees voted to convert their school into a On December 4, 1903, two months liberal arts college for women, shutterafter its record win, South Carolina sent ing the program for good. its reserve squad to Hartsville for another The trustees named the school after game against Welsh Neck. one of its original benefactors: Coker The Gamecocks lost 6 to 0. College. It was a surprising footnote to an otherwise special season. South Carolina If you’re cynical, then yes: South Carofinished 8-2, breaking a school record lina’s most lopsided win came against a for wins and affirming its status as a high school that four years later became rising power in Southern football. The a women’s college. Even after Coker beGamecocks wouldn’t win eight games gan admitting men in 1969, the school in a season for another 76 years. has never sponsored a football team. “Not only are they football players, but More than a century later, we’re still they are thorough collegians and gentle- left to speculate on how South Carolina men,” wrote Harry N. Edmunds in a gush- dominated Welsh Neck so thoroughly. ing post-season review for The State. After all, they weren’t nearly as hapless in If Welsh Neck had any scars from that their final two meetings with the Gameblowout loss, they didn’t show. Accord- cocks. Was Welsh Neck, a high school ing to South Carolina high school foot- team, physically overmatched by a USC ball historian John Daye, Welsh Neck squad that was becoming “a star of first played four more games that season. Af- magnitude in the athletic firmament of ter losing 32-0 to Charleston on October the South” according to the Garnet and 31, they won their last three games, all by Black? If they didn’t finalize the game shutout. That included the 6-0 upset of until less than ten days before, was Welsh the Gamecock “scrubs.” Neck unprepared to play on such short The teams met again the following notice? Were they struggling to adjust year, but with different coaches: Bob to G.C. Scaife, their first-year head coach? Williams had taken the head coaching Was Scaife over his head coaching his job at Davidson, passing the reins to his first game (he later left football and beassistant Benet, while Scaife had been re- came a high school principal in South placed as Welsh Neck’s head coach. The Carolina)? Like the score, it remains a Gamecocks won by the more respect- mystery. able margin of 40 to 0. They also won Records, by their nature, deal in abso14 to 0 in 1905. lutes: the biggest, the longest, the most, That last game may owe its competi- the worst. tiveness to a new face on the sidelines: They give fans a measuring stick for Welsh Neck was coached that year by greatness. They allow us to compare and Frank “Shag” Shaughnessy, a 21 year- connect different generations of teams old Notre Dame alumnus who would and players. They reflect the evolution eventually be inducted into the Cana- of a game. Of course, they offer fodder dian Football Hall of Fame for his work for debate. coaching McGill University in Montreal. On a warm October afternoon 112 He landed the job with help from Wil- years ago, South Carolina played what liams, whom he met months earlier in has long been regarded as its highestCharlottesville, Va., while in Spring Train- scoring, most lopsided game in school ing with the Washington Senators. Wil- history. liams was a University of Virginia alum. Some records last a long time. South Carolina and Welsh Neck never Not every one of them is absolute.


By brian hand Executive Editor The little things matter. South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin is a big believer in that and as one would expect so are his players. And what may be a little thing to some may be a big thing to others, which is why for the second consecutive year the “8K in 8 Days” campaign by Martin and the men’s basketball program was a resounding success. “This is something that’s real close to our hearts,” rising senior guard Brian Steele said during South Carolina’s visit to the Operation Hoops 4 Troops Kids Camp at Camp McCrady on the Fort Jackson grounds on Thursday, July 23. “We really enjoy being out here. It’s a big part of our program. We love being a part of the com“It’s really great having these kids getmunity and I know they love having us out ting excited when we do drills,” redshirt here, so we just try to do our best every freshman guard TeMarcus Blanton said. day out here.” “It warms me up because I used to do the The trip to Camp McCrady was part of same thing.” the eight-day stretch that saw the GameOne day later on Tuesday, July 21, the cocks start their second “8K in 8 Days” Gamecocks visited with a few of the many campaign with a visit to Greenview Park brave people that have fought and served for a “Moving and Learning With Gamein the U.S. Military at the William Jennings cock Basketball” training session with loBryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Cencal youth in conjunction with the City of ter. Columbia. It was a special opportunity that put “It’s a great experience for me and all things in perspective for the Gamecocks. the other guys on the team,” rising junior “This was definitely a good experience Duane Notice said at the event. “We’re all for me,” Notice said. “This was my first time excited about giving back to the commukind of meeting veterans. I’m from Cananity. I know growing up for me, it was a da, so I really didn’t get an opportunity to big thing to have older players and older meet the soldiers and the veterans and see guys that were established at a school or what they’ve done for the whole country in the league to come and give back to the and North America. I just wanted to show community. I can imagine how these kids my appreciation for all of the support that feel and it feels good on our end to give they’ve given our country.” back to our community.” The visit to the VA was the second “8K in 8 After their first visit to Greenview, the Days” event of the day for the Gamecocks Gamecocks spent some time on Saturday, on Tuesday, July 21 as they also took time July 18 and Sunday, July 19 sending letout of their busy schedules to connect ters to season ticket holders and thanking with incoming University them for all they do for the of South Carolina students program. at new student orientation. The Gamecocks teamed The Gamecocks next up with the Richland Counwelcomed a grouping of ty Sheriff’s Department children from the Epworth to teach around a dozen Children’s Home in Coyoungsters the importance lumbia to the Colonial Life of having a good attitude Arena on Wednesday, July and character while also All Gamecock 22. It gave the Gamecocks taking them through some basketball the unique opportunity to basketball drills on Monday, coverage let the children that ranged July 20 at Blythewood High sponsored by in age from four years old to School. Yesterdays 12 years old know that they

were loved and appreciated. The visit to Camp McCrady on Thursday, July 23 hit home for Steele, who comes from a military family with his grandfather a Lieutenant Colonel. “Frank (Martin) loves the military and we do too as a team, so we just try to support them any way we can,” Steele said. South Carolina National Guard McGrady Training Center Garrison Commander Colonel Todd Shealy was thankful the Gamecocks were willing to give of their time to come to Eastover, South Carolina on the afternoon of Thursday, July 23. “I think it’s a great opportunity for USC athletics, for the military kids of South Carolina, just to be able to come together one-on-one and talk about some skills, what they need to do,” Shealy relayed. “As we go through life we need good role models. It’s an opportunity to create that role model atmosphere and talk about how to do that whether it’s in basketball, whether it’s in a military career, civilianstuff that you do, it’s a great opportunity to at least start that process because these kids look up to athletes across the board, whichever sport it is, so it’s definitely a good positive opportunity for them to do so.” The final event of “8K in 8 Days” was a “Meet and Greet with My Brother’s Keeper” and the South Carolina men’s basketball team at Greenview Park in Columbia, South Carolina on Friday, July 24. My Brother’s Keeper was an initiative launched by President Barack Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and to ensure that all young people can reach

their full potential. Mayor Steve Benjamin and the city of Columbia have worked hard to help the initiative and Obama even visited the city of Columbia earlier this year to talk about some of the program’s achievements. “We have a complete responsibility to make sure that every child in this city – regardless of who their parents are, regardless of what socio-economic status they come from, regardless of what zip code they belong in – that every child has a chance to live up to their God-given potential, so we’re investing in these young people,” Benjamin said. “We’re investing in them and I will tell you that every dime, every moment we invest, we get it back in spades over the years. It leaves me pumped up and I’m excited about what we’re doing here today.” In general, the whole experience of “8K in 8 Days” in which the Gamecocks logged over 150 hours of community service and touched the lives of over 8,000 people from all walks of life was special to the Gamecocks. “It’s awesome,” Steele stated of the campaign. “I was talking with Mindy (senior forward Mindaugas Kacinas) and my face hurt we were smiling so much. You don’t really think about it until you get out here. It’s just so much fun. Some of these kids are just so happy to see you that it makes you happy to be out there.” Rising junior guard Sindarius Thornwell agreed with his teammate. “I feel like everybody’s been enjoying getting out into the community and everything – even the freshmen,” Thornwell said. “It’s new to freshmen and they always come back talking to me about it and how much they had fun and that’s what it’s all about, reaching out to the kids in the community and having fun.” Martin in turn agreed with his studentathletes, pointing out that “what matters is that personal contact with people and putting our players in a place where they can interact with youngsters and doing things of a positive nature for the community. That’s what we’re trying to do with this and the responses that we’ve been getting have been phenomenal. We put our guys in front of these young kids and who knows, these young kids might sit around for the next 10 years and want to be a basketball player because of this and want to go to college. It gives them something to aspire to, something that they want to reach and work for and it can all happen just because of a moment.”


South Carolina Gamecocks

2015 football Schedule

09/03/15

vs. North Carolina (ESPN)

Charlotte, N.C.

6:00 p.m. ET

09/12/15

vs. Kentucky # (SEC Network)

Columbia, S.C.

7:30 p.m. ET

09/19/15

at Georgia # (ESPN)

Athens, Ga.

6:00 p.m. ET

09/26/15

vs. UCF

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

10/03/15

at Missouri #

Columbia, Mo.

TBA

10/10/15

vs. LSU #

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

10/17/15

vs. Vanderbilt #

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

10/31/15

at Texas A&M #

College Station, Texas

TBA

11/07/15

at Tennessee #

Knoxville, Tenn.

TBA

11/14/15

vs. Florida #

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

11/21/15

vs. The Citadel

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

11/28/15

vs. Clemson

Columbia, S.C.

TBA

AS34-1269695

Bold = Home game | # = Conference game


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Spurs & Feathers August Magazine