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Editorial: HSSR Banquets Allow Us To Join Together To Honor Great Achievements In SC High School Sports

HSSR Banquets Allow Us To Join Together To Honor Great Achievements In SC High School Sports  

By Billy G. Baker/lBanquet Editorial 

Columbia—Once again we gather today under the Chandelier Lights in the grand ball room of Seawells where the mission inscribed in the mast head of the “High School Sports Report” publication, an on our website at, is being fulfilled literally, “Our Goal Recognizing The Achievements of Young Athletes!”

We gather today to honor those athletes (along with some coaches) who excelled in the fall sports of football, volleyball, swimming, cross country, girl’s golf, and girl’s tennis during the fall sports 2019 season in the state of South Carolina. 

There are around 265 public and independent schools in South Carolina and young student athletes from 50 per cent of those schools are represented at these two banquets today. What a great opportunity to make a new friend while you are here today. The student athletes here today, who competed at a high level, are chosen for recognition from a talent pool of around 35,000 varsity athletes. Our best guess is that one in 45 athletes, on various teams in the fall, earn HSSR all-state honors. This is a very competitive process indeed. We congratulate each one of you.

If you find yourself being celebrated today, you are among the Chosen ones indeed!  

We also extend a huge Thank You to our two keynote speakers today Curtis Frye the distinguished head Track & Field coach at USC who will speak to the 1 p.m. Fall all-state honorees while the winningest head football coach in the history Of South Carolina State University, Buddy Pough, will share his thoughts at the exclusive HSSR all-state football award banquet at 4 p.m. No doubt both gentlemen will be sharing thoughts nurtured and interwoven into their fiber of their core values based on many years of tutelage of young athletes. Listen with a keen ear and even take notes if you care too.

These two events today will attract over 1,100 people as proud parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and even aunts and uncles gather to pay homage to the sweat equity, dedication and commitment, combined with hard work that it took to earn your status as an all-state athlete. From the peach orchids of Gaffney to the white sands of Myrtle Beach athletes are gathered here today for one big celebration. May the memories of today’s banquets forever live in your memoires.

One of the HSSR’s most distinguished awards is the John McKissick Coaching Award of Excellence to be presented to Chapman head coach Mark Hodge after his awesomely talented Chapman Panthers went 15-0 this season and won the AAA state title. Please forgive me if I get a little emotional presenting the John McKissick Memorial Coaching Excellence Award this year to head Coach Hodge.

Coach McKissick passed away at the age of 93 on Thanksgiving Day three months ago surrounded by his loving and devoted family. He spent 63 seasons on the sidelines of Green Wave football where he won a world record 621 wins against 115 losses and 13 ties. Coach McKissick coached teams to 10 state titles while coaching nearly 5,000 players who now live all over the world sharing life-lessons learned under the hot August sun of Green Wave football. 

Many of you know the story about a young man getting out of a children’s home to start the 9th grade at Summerville High. He attended his first high school football game his first Friday out of the children’s home and he is really motivated watching Coach McKissick on the sideline fire up the Green Wave as they dominate another opponent.  On Monday morning the young man volunteers to join the school newspaper staff and his adviser tells him the first test he must pass in the road to becoming a journalist is going down to Coach McKissick’s office and setting up an interview with him.  

About six hours later, nervous and knees shaking the young man knocks on “Coaches Door” and introduces himself to McKissick and tells the Coach just how important he is around the school. The young man, literally a lost soul seeking light where there had been darkness, is rescued by Almighty God with these words not his own, “Coach, you do know you are going to be the winningest coach of all time one day.” With those words, Coach asked the young man to come sit down at his desk, and a little curious expression on his face he asked where those thoughts had come from.  The young man couldn’t even remember what he had said as McKissick leaned in and told the aspiring writer, “I have been needing a little buddy. You got it all wrong. You are the one who is important. I have never had anyone from the school newspaper come down to my office wanting an interview and telling me what you told me today.”

Thus, a lifetime friendship between Coach McKissick and this young man began in earnest the next morning when the young man found a card table filled with 16 years of scrap books created by Joan McKissick, wife of Coach McKissick.  Yes, that nervous knee shaking young man was this writer and that day changed my life forever. The next morning Coach had a card table against his desk, told me it was my desk for the rest of the year too, and he brought in 16 years of his wife’s (Joan) scrap books  so I could start researching him and the team! We would go on to write two hard cover books together.

Leave this Banquet Hall today encouraged that the future of our state and nation are in good hands based on the quality of young people we are applauding today in the great ball room of Seawells. These young people represent our future leaders in all aspects of our society and out hope is that they will all become good citizens in this great nation we all live in. We sincerely thank everyone for the partnership we are so fortunate to share with the high school athletic programs all around the state.

Today at Seawells we took some time to escape into a sanctuary of positive moments in the lives of many dedicated hard-working student athletes as they were rewarded for a job well done. We encourage all of them to keep being great models. Keep your dreams and goals glowing in your heart and you continue to reach for the stars.

(Let’s do this again next year!)



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