Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Through seven different decades, John McKissick has coached thousands of young athletes, providing them with inspiration and advice that applies on and off the football field.
As McKissick's third quarterback at Summerville High School, Jerry Nettles was a key player on the coach's first two state championship teams in 1955 and 1956. After graduating, he moved on to play for The Citadel. He says he learned valuable lessons from McKissick and their relationship is still strong today.
“As a player he taught me to never, never, never quit,” Nettles said. “Over the years, he became my closest friend in life so it's hard to explain what he has meant to me. He has been like a father to me and Mrs. McKissick has been like a mother.”
Bo Blanton was McKissick's quarterback from 1974-76 and was there when the coach surpassed the 200-wins benchmark. He went on to play for Clemson and serve multiple terms on the Dorchester Two school board, even serving as its chair.
“Coach McKissick has always had a standard he holds all his players to,” Blanton said. “He requires you to perform on the field, but he also expects you to represent your high school and community in a manner everyone can be proud of and I think that carries past high school. Just look at the things his former players such as Converse Chellis, George Tupper and Harry Blake have moved on to do for their community and their state. He taught us the importance of consistency and having a formula for success. All these years he has never changed the way he runs things, but he has shown he is willing to adapt. If three yards in a cloud of dust works he'll use it but if he has guys who can throw the ball and catch it he will do that.”
One of McKissick's biggest attributes is his ability to unify.
“Teamwork is very important to him,” Blanton said. “He has created a fraternity and we are all proud to have played for the Green Wave. As far as he is concerned there are no stars and he has never cut anyone.”
Ian Rafferty played for McKissick in 1992 and 1993. He was on the field when the Green Wave beat Wando to give McKissick his 406th win to set a new all-time record for football coaching wins. Rafferty went on to play in the pros for the Titans and the Jets and now serves as the offensive coordinator for Fort Dorchester High School.
“Coach McKissick taught us to always work hard,” Rafferty said. “He stressed the importance of being the best you could be on and off the field. He always puts in the work that is needed to get his players ready for Friday night and as a coach now I see how vital that is to a team's success.”
Today, McKissick continues to have a positive influence on the athletes at his school.
“Coach has taught me to be humble,” Green Wave offensive lineman Grant Wactor said. “He is one of the most humble people I know. He doesn't brag or even talk a lot about the things he has accomplished. I also really respect that at age 86 he continues to push on. It shows us that if he can do it, so can someone else.”
Linebacker Mac McCurry says having a coach with 61 years under his belt definitely has its advantages.
“I mean we made history tonight so I'm glad to be a part of that,” McCurry said after Friday's big win. “The thing about having him as your coach is that no matter what situation the team may face, he's been there. He is also just a good guy and someone who is a great mentor.”
McKissick has a large staff so he has the luxury of delegating. But it would probably be hard to find a player on his team who hasn't been impacted in some way by the head coach.
“He's a funny guy,” Green Wave kicker Parker Cleveland said. “He always tells me when I do something wrong, blame someone else.”
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