Thanks to donations of more than $15,000 in memory of alumnus West Summers, ’11, Heathwood dedicated the newly enhanced J. West Summers IV Cross Country and Track Pavilion at a ceremony on February 27.
With several hundred members of the Heathwood community in attendance, Head of School Chris Hinchey, Upper School Head George Scouten, Cross Country Coach Willis Ware, and former Track Coach Verlon Rhodes all spoke about West’s contributions to Heathwood and to its Cross Country and Track programs, before Heathwood Chaplain Raven Tarpley led the blessing of the facility.
Following West’s death in November, 2015, Heathwood received 94 gifts in his memory. This outpouring of love, in combination with three leadership gifts, allowed the school to significantly enhance the pavilion where Highlander track and cross country athletes gather before practices and events and recover from races and training sessions. In addition to a newly paved floor, the pavilion now has comfortable seating and new boards displaying record-setting performances by Heathwood track and cross country athletes.
Lead gifts by Catherine and Keith Johnson, Frank and Pearl Tourville, and the Highlander Club generously supported the memorial project, as did contributions of time and talent from alumnus and parent Davis Buchanan, ’86, alumnus and past parent David McCoy, ’79, and many members of Heathwood’s grounds, athletics, and advancement staff.
West Summers was a gifted runner whose talent and dedication raised the bar for Heathwood’s track and cross country programs in ways that continue to be felt today. This year’s boys cross country state championship, for example, can be traced back to the culture of hard work and high aspirations that West modeled for his teammates as early as middle school, said Coach Ware: “West’s success and work ethic inspired a younger generation of runners who in turn inspired the students in our current program to achieve at such a high level.”
“West’s time on these fields, trails, and track played a significant role in his development into a young man,” said Chris Hinchey. “So it seemed very appropriate to use the funds donated in his honor to improve this facility.”
Congratulations to the Boys & Girls Varsity Basketball teams on making the SCISA AAA State Tournament!
The Varsity Girls have earned the #6 seed and will travel to Wilson Hall to face the Barons in the first round, with tipoff at 8PM! Admission for the tournament is $8 for adults, $5 for students.
Leading the Lady Highlanders into postseason play will be senior Rachael Whittaker, who was named today to the All-Region team!
The Varsity Boys finished the regular season as Co-Region I Champions, and have earned the #2 seed in the lower half of the bracket! With their seed, the Boys will have a first round bye, before facing the winner of Augusta Christian and Laurence Manning at 8PM on Wednesday at the Sumter Civic Center (Admission: $8 – Adults, $5 – Students)
For the Highlander Boys, Head Coach Jeff Whalen was named Region Coach of the Year, while senior guard Josh Caldwell earned his second consecutive Region Player of the Year award, and junior guard Matthew Lee earned his first All-Region nod!
Achieving 100 career wins in wrestling is a challenging and elusive goal. Heathwood's Reagan Olsen, '19, just pulled it off as a sophomore--and won the SCISA state championship in his weight class at the same time.
Wrestling is just one of three sports in which Reagan's making an impact for the Highlanders. He's also a standout in football and baseball and has been a mentor for younger players on all three teams. Here he talks with Heathwood Sports Information Director Andrew Richardson about his leadership style, his own role models, and his favorite things about being a Highlander.
In your sophomore year, you've now had the opportunity to not just play, but become a leader in three different sports. How do you manage the workload of combining the athletics with your full academic course load?
Well, all of the sports are a lot of fun and I enjoy being able to go from season to season. All of my teammates and coaches are great and I just try to give my all for us to succeed. With school, I think the regular schedule of school, practice, and games gives me a good routine.
On this year's team, you do return some great talent but you may have lost some leadership. What has the transition been like as you become one of the older guys on the team?
I think the transition has gone well. Our team has a lot of guys who enjoy wrestling and being around each other. I'm just trying to show the young guys how to do things and how to be a good teammate.
What lessons have you been able to learn from the previous years' seniors?
I've learned a lot. JT (Justin Taylor) and Woodson (Bagnal) really pulled our team together and were great teammates, always cheering other guys on and showing that they believed in us.
As a sophomore, it's probably odd to look back, but what do think about when you think of the career you've put together so far? Additionally, what do you want from the rest of your Heathwood career?
Everything so far has been great. I've enjoyed playing here and hope that we have a lot more success. Thinking ahead, I want to win championships. We were so close last season, and I think we've got the talent to compete this year, and for the next few years. I have no doubt we will win it all.
Like mother, like son … the Draffins are making a family tradition out of coming through for Heathwood in the clutch.
Twenty-five years ago, as a sophomore on the Heathwood Girls Varsity Basketball team, Katherine Juk Draffin (’94) got fouled shooting a 3-pointer against Ashley Hall. The game was almost over and the Highlanders were down by three, so the three free throws Katherine was awarded were obviously going to be decisive: make all three and the game would likely go to overtime; miss just one and Heathwood would lose. No pressure, right?
Katherine stepped up to the line and made the first shot … and then the second … and then—as every spectator held their breath—the third. The game was tied, and in the few seconds remaining, Ashley Hall failed to convert. Thanks to Katherine, the game went to overtime.
Flash forward to January 19, 2017, and the Heathwood Middle School Boys Basketball team is down by two points to a much bigger Camden Military squad. With under a minute to play and the clock winding down fast, point guard Walker Draffin (’22) launches a three-point shot, and is fouled in the process. Once again, no pressure, right? Make two shots and you can force overtime, make three and you’ll probably win the game. Anything less, and the Highlanders will almost certainly lose.
Walker stepped to the line and squared up to shoot. In the stands, his father Stephen (’90) said, almost in a whisper, “Oh, he practiced this a lot this weekend.” As calmly as if he were still taking those routine practice shots, Walker released his first free throw—and it sailed right through the net. He took the second, and once again, it hit nothing but net. In the stands, all the Heathwood fans held their breath … and Walker shot his third … and it too swished right in. With just seconds left, Camden Military hustled up court but couldn’t convert—and after being down by almost double digits at the half, Heathwood went on to win the game.
Parents in attendance who heard Stephen Draffin mention that Walker had recently put a lot of time in at the free throw line might have been tempted to point out to their sons that the Highlanders won the game thanks to Walker’s work ethic, and specifically his willingness to work hard in practice to improve his game. But Katherine Draffin says learning what it takes to come through in the clutch was just one of many takeaways from her own Heathwood basketball career: “Basketball was by far my favorite sport that I played at Heathwood,” she recalls. “It taught me a lot, on and off the court.”
What A Time To Be A Highlander!
Come out and support our Heathwood Hall teams and athletes in action!
The Highlander Bowling teams had a home match at the Royal Z Lanes on Tuesday, January 17th. There were 7 school attending with 18 teams competing. Our boys’ teams finished 1st and the girls’ teams finished in 2nd place. The girls were led by Catie Johnson, Olivia Hampton, Amelia Robinson-Brown and Kate Nassab, while the boys’ team had particularly strong showings from Xander Postic, Davis Buchanan, Spears Goodlett, Daniel Lucas and James Lucas.
The teams participated in the SCISA State Championship matches at Sumter’s Gamecock Lanes on Thursday, January 19th. At this year's state championship, the format was a two-round play-off format. All 12 school teams participated in the first round, with the top 4 teams moving into the championship round. Both our boys’ and girls’ teams were in that top four. Our boys’ teams finished in 2nd place in the state and the girls finished in 3rd place - Congratulations to the boys' and girls’ teams!
Boys’ Team Members - Wade Allen, Davis Buchanan, Xander Postic, Daniel Lucas and James Lucas
Girls' Team Members - Olivia Hampton, Catie Johnson, Emmye Mullins, Amelia Robinson-Brown and Kate Nassab.
Join us this Friday, January 27th, for a Facebook Live Q&A with Heathwood Head Football Coach Marcus Lattimore at 10AM!
The Highlander Varsity Wrestling team picked up some valuable big-match experience last week in their tri-match against SCHSL powers Blythewood HS & Columbia HS. Sophomore Reagan Olsen inched closer to history, as he collected his 95th career win. Tomorrow night, the team will travel for their final regular-season contest against Camden Military, before the MS wrestlers host their tournament on Saturday.
Next week, the Highlanders will open play in the SCISA State Quarterfinals at Hammond on Wednesday, as they look to make consecutive trips to the State Championship - Make sure to come out and support our wrestlers!
The Basketball program is full of positive momentum as they head toward the end of the regular season!
MS Girls: Can clinch a home semifinal game in the region tournament with a win today at Augusta Christian, or Friday at home against Cardinal Newman.
MS Boys: Split their games last week against Camden Military & Ben Lippen, but look to finish out the regular season strong this week with AC, PAC, and CN.
JV Girls: Host AC today before traveling to Cardinal Newman for the season finale on Friday.
JV Boys: Picked up a great road win against Camden Military last week, and look to work their way into the playoffs with games this week against AC, PAC, and the regular-season finale at CN.
Varsity Girls: Collected a big home win last night against Pelion, avenging a loss from earlier in the season, and can clinch a playoff berth at home tonight against AC, or on the road Friday against the Cardinals.
Varsity Boys: Currently standing alone in first place in the region, the boys defeated Pelion last night at home and look to collect season sweeps this week against AC and CN.
2016 brought the Highlander Nation some terrific moments!
In no particular order, we’ve highlighted 10 of the top stories in the Heathwood Hall calendar year – ENJOY & GO HALL!
HIGHLANDERS WIN STATE
The Boys Cross Country team capped off an incredible 2016 season by winning their final four races, including the SCISA AAA State Championship! Despite losing their top runner from 2015 and having lost senior captain Harrison Boorda to an injury, Coach Cindy Scannella’s team combined youth with experience to win the title on the Heathwood home course, behind the efforts of seniors Matt Quan and Aidan Powers, junior Nick Basile, and middle schoolers Joseph French and Hugh Willcox.
B-TEAM FOOTBALL, LATTIMORE DELIVER
Under the direction of first-year head coach Marcus Lattimore, the Highlander MS Football team entered the 2016 season having not won a game since 2013. By game three, the Highlanders had ended that streak, and by the end of the season, the Highlanders had won their final four games and their first Region I Championship! A huge Heathwood contingent packed out Hammond’s Edens Stadium and were treated to two second-half scores and a 12-0 win!
GROWTH IN THE COLLEGIATE HIGHLANDER FRATERNITY
The number of Heathwood alums taking their talents to the next level grew in 2016, as four Highlander graduates headed off to begin their collegiate careers, and one senior signed to pursue a collegiate career. Brandon Hill signed on National Signing Day with Duke University, while Justin Taylor (Furman), Ben Wilson (Mississippi State), and Woodson Bagnal (Hampden-Sydney) all committed to their respective schools. In November, senior Josh Caldwell signed with the United States Military Academy at West Point (Army) for collegiate basketball.
DEBUT OF THE TOURVILLE CENTER
Thanks to the generosity of Highlander donors, Heathwood renovated and updated a brand new Strength & Conditioning facility in the Lower Gym facility. The facility features new weight equipment from Sorinex, a rehab and cardio room overlooking Highlander Stadium, updates to the Athletic Training room, and new athletic offices and storage rooms. The top-of-the-line facility continues to keep Heathwood Hall at the forefront of facilities in SCISA and across the state.
THE YEAR OF NASIR
Maryah Nasir entered 2016 coming off the 2015 SCISA Cross Country State title, and dominated the calendar year from start to finish. She claimed three individual state titles at the SCISA State Track Meet, claimed two gold medals during the summer in the South Carolina Junior Olympics, and then put together one of the great seasons in Highlander Cross Country history, winning eight events including the Region I title, en route to being named the Midlands Runner of the Year by The State Newspaper.
With so many of the Highlander teams succeeding in 2016, honors were awarded to several members of the Highlander coaching staff. Boys Soccer’s Andrew Richardson earned Region I Co-Coach of the Year honors, and was named the State Private/Parochial School Coach of the Year by the NSCAA after leading the Highlanders to the state championship match. In her first year as HH’s Volleyball coach, Ashley Jordan earned Region Coach of the Year honors and coached in the SCISA North-South game after leading the Highlanders to a runner-up finish in region play and a top seed in the state tournament. After leading the Boys Cross Country team to the first Highlander state championship since 2014, Cindy Scannella was named the State Cross Country Coach of the Year.
While so many of our teams enjoyed great success, several excelled in competition and brought home hardware back to South Beltline! The Wrestling team closed out the 2015-16 season with State Championship appearance, while the Girls Track team and Boys Soccer team both earned State Runner-Up finishes in the spring. This fall, the Girls Swim team had a great showing at the Augusta Aquatics Center, narrowly finishing behind Ashley Hall to finish as the runner-up for the second time in three years.
CALDWELL JOINS 1,000-POINT CLUB
Senior Boys Basketball player Josh Caldwell became the third member of the Highlander Boys Basketball program to join the 1,000 point club with his first basket at Porter-Gaud on December 2nd. The reigning Region 1 Co-Player of the Year, helped lead the Highlanders to the SCISA State Semifinals in 2015-16, and is looking to take the team even farther this season before heading to West Point.
DIG PINK GAME PROVES HUGE SUCCESS
The Highlander Volleyball program engineered one of the great fundraising events of the year with their first annual Dig Pink game. Honored during the event included our own golf coach Lynn Humphrey, who is in remission after battling Breast Cancer. The event took place the night of the Hammond match, bringing in a terrific crowd donning pink, and featured bake sales, auctions, and a serving contest–to go along with a 3-0 sweep of the Skyhawks!
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
The Highlander Athletic Department heads into 2017 with great momentum! Our thanks to the entire Heathwood community for their continued support! There’s something great happening over on South Beltline!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Heathwood Hall announces the hiring of Marcus Lattimore as the Head Football Coach, upon the resignation of outgoing coach Steve Victory. Victory, 3-15 in his two seasons at the helm, will be returning to his home state of Louisiana to tend to family matters. Lattimore, a former South Carolina All-American and San Francisco 49ers draft pick, served as Heathwood’s Varsity Running Backs coach and Head B-Team Coach in 2016. He helped coach junior running back Brandon McCullough to 1st Team SCISA All-State honors, and the B-Team to the SCISA Region 1-AAA Championship, after they had gone winless in 2014 and 2015.
In addition to his duties as the Head Football Coach, Lattimore will serve as Heathwood Hall’s School Advancement Associate. In this role, he will work with the athletic administration, admissions office, school development office, and Head of School Chris Hinchey. He will begin both roles on January 16, 2017.
“Marcus has articulated a vision of excellence for the entire football program (Varsity, JV and B-Team), and I am confident that, through his exceptional work ethic, genuine concern for player development, advanced understanding of the game, and commitment to character and sportsmanship, he will build a very competitive team and outstanding program," said Heathwood Head of School Chris Hincey. "He is excited about the challenge ahead and he is the right man for the job.”
Heathwood Athletic Director Jeff Whalen said, “We are extremely pleased that Marcus has accepted our offer to become our head football coach and a member of our staff at Heathwood. Marcus is very knowledgeable in football but brings to us a more important characteristic in that he understands the importance of developing character and discipline. I would also like thank and wish Steve Victory future success as he and his wife move back to New Orleans.”
“Heathwood Hall is a special community that I am thrilled to be a part of," said Coach Lattimore. "The kindhearted people make this place feel like home. The genuine care for our students is evident, and it all starts with great leadership from our Head of School, Chris Hinchey. The sport of football has provided me with a platform to motivate and inspire thousands of kids over the years, and this will give me an opportunity on a daily basis to continue to make an impact on the lives of our young men. Our coaching staff will immediately began to create a uniform system, developing the program from top to bottom, with the foundation built on an emphasis of accountability. Our young men will know they represent something bigger than themselves. Our players will work with pride to have people respect the name on the back of their jersey and more importantly, the name on the front.”
Coach Steve Victory said, “My wife and I are expecting our first child in February and it is our desire to be closer to our family in Louisiana. The Heathwood community has been very supportive of me and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such great people. I wish them nothing but the best in the future.”
A native of Duncan, SC, Marcus Lattimore graduated from Byrnes High School in 2010. As a senior, he earned USA Today’s high school All-American honors and was named South Carolina’s “Mr. Football.” Marcus then signed with the University of South Carolina and was a three year letterman for the Gamecocks and led the team to their first SEC championship game in 2010. Marcus holds the South Carolina all-time record with 41 career touchdowns in only 23 games. In 2013 Marcus was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the NFL draft. After two seasons, Marcus retired from the 49ers and returned to South Carolina to finish his degree in Public Health. He is committed to growing the image of The Marcus Lattimore Foundation, whose mission is to provide assistance to high school athletes who may not have sufficient insurance to obtain quality rehabilitation from sports-related injuries.
Each week, the South Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (SCISA) surveys the entire state of South Carolina and selects three or four statewide Student Athletes of the Week. Once a month SCISA also selects a Sportsperson of the Month. In September, Heathwood was dominant in both categories. Highlanders Flinn Christian (volleyball), Madison Branum (golf), and Maryah Nasir (cross country) were honored as Athletes of the Week on three subsequent weeks, and Cross Country runner Harrison Boorda was named Sportsman of the Month. Days later, volleyball player Jaylen Davis learned that she had been selected as WLTX Player of the Week.
We’re proud that so many Highlanders have recently been singled out for their contributions to their sports and want to celebrate these five standouts and all of our other Heathwood fall athletes!
Flinn is a Captain for our Varsity Volleyball team. She consistently leads by example, but is also a vocal leader expressing praise as well as encouragement and expectations to her teammates. She acts as a communication buffer between her teammates and the coaching staff and Coach Jordan trusts her to be a “coach on the court” when needed. She is not only supportive to her teammates, but she also holds them accountable. Flinn is the true definition of a team captain and leader.
Her devotion to the sport and the hard work it takes to be successful on the court, as well as to her teammates, is inspiring and worthy of commendation. As Coach Jordan puts it, “Flinn is a coach’s dream player and an excellent student of the game. She often brings insightful questions to me after practice and/or a game and she strives to understand and apply the material, not only on the court, but in daily life. Flinn is a frequent contributor and key factor for our success on the court. She has won several awards for Volleyball and is on the right track to play at the collegiate level and also receive a volleyball scholarship when she applies to college next year.”
Flinn plays Outside Hitter and fills a huge role for the team. She is the team’s primary offensive threat and wins a majority of their points. She is also a top defensive player and has been the team’s second leader in defensive plays. SCISAhonored her for having 12 kills, 10 aces, 17 digs and 9 serve receptions in a single match.
The recent awards for senior Jaylen Davis come as no surprise to the Highlander Faithful, who have been treated to watching her exploits since she began competing for the Navy Blue and Green. Davis, who competes for both the Highlander Volleyball and Track & Field teams, has earned All-Region honors in both sports, while serving as one of the tri-captains for the Highlander Volleyball team this fall.
Behind her leadership, the Highlanders have enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent history, and will enter the playoffs with an opportunity to make a deep run. For the first time in years, the Highlander Volleyball team earned a season sweep over archrival Hammond, and has an opportunity to finish the season with a top-2 finish in region play.
In addition to her athletic excellence, Jaylen has served key roles in many other on-campus organizations and community service efforts, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society. Her efforts have earned the respect of her peers, her coaches, the Heathwood community, and the local community, as well, as she has earned Player of the Week honors from SCISA and WLTX News 19, in addition to being voted as the Highlander Homecoming Queen.
A Google search of Heathwood’s Maryah Nasir quickly informs any curious person of the remarkable athletic career the junior has quickly put together. Already one of the most decorated SCISA athletes ever, Nasir owns state titles and records in nearly every distance event, ranging from the SCISA Individual Cross Country title, to the 1600M & 3200M state records. Nasir enters nearly every event across the state as a favorite, and has matched those expectations more times than not. Since her arrival a year ago, Nasir has won over 50% of the races she has competed in, and ranks as one of the top runners (public or private) in the entire state.
What Google may not show however, is the balance she shows with her high performance level away from the track or trail. A top student, Nasir can often be found supporting other Highlander teams, providing a helping hand in community service projects, and even singing the National Anthem at Highlander Football games!
Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. For a more tangible example however, Heathwood needs to look no further than senior Harrison Boorda. A double-digit time letter-winner, Boorda will graduate this spring with an impressive athletic resume to his name. He has participated with multiple Highlander teams and been an integral part of several championship-level Highlander teams. But lost in the glitz and glamour of his athletic exploits is an even greater young man whose character will leave a lasting impact on the Heathwood community.
In a recent cross country race, the senior team captain found himself battling fatigue, as well as chronic calf pain, in the midst of a race, when even more adversity presented itself to him. An opposing runner from First Baptist suffered an injury and found himself unable to continue the race.
“When I talk to our team about our run, I talk about being a good sportsman. Not about the time, but about running in a way that makes yourself proud with the way you perform. So when the guy went down, it really wasn’t a hard decision. If I’m preaching that, I might as well do it myself.”
Boorda stopped his own race, and focused his efforts on the FBS runner. From providing words of encouragement, to physically carrying the young man, even continuing to walk with the athlete when he felt compelled to try to continue, Harrison provided an example of sportsmanship that inspired not only his other competitors, and coaches from other schools, but the young athletes he calls teammates. Heathwood’s team, ranked as high as #1 in the state, boasts one of the youngest rosters in SCISA. But they surely wouldn’t enjoy the same success were it not for their senior leader, even when injuries keep him from competing.
“We’ve got a couple of high schoolers, but a large deal of middle schoolers. I’ve had to take up more of an assistant coach’s role since my calves have kept me from competing… really just looking after them and trying to instill the same principles in them that I was taught.”
For those who have never competed in the sport, golf can be an incredibly intimidating game. Unlike most team sports, golf teammates do not get the opportunity to share in their competition. Each golfer often has to celebrate individual successes alone, and respond to personal adversity in the same fashion. For Heathwood junior Madison Branum, the celebrations have greatly outweighed the difficulties.
The defending SCISA State Co-Medalist entered the season with high expectations, and Madison has risen to the challenge. Boasting the lowest scoring average in SCISA, Branum has been a medalist in each match she has participated in over the last two seasons, typically near or below par. This fall, she was invited to participate in the prestigious Palmetto Classic, the top event for public and private school golfers from across the state. Branum played some of her top golf to date, earning a top-10 finish against some of the most accomplished team and players from South Carolina.
Her resume, as you might imagine, has generated some top Division 1 collegiate interest, ranging from her ranking on the Hurricane Golf Tour (as high as #3 nationally), 3.1 USGA Handicap, stellar GPA, or 3-time All-Region and All-State seasons. Well-rounded, Branum shares her time as a volunteer, both on and off-campus, and has been a leader in both the girls and boys golf program.
Thanks to the generosity of many donors and the vision of Heathwood Head of School Chris Hinchey, Athletics Director Jeff Whalen, and our athletics coaches and trainers, Heathwood student athletes can now train in a state-of-the-art new strength and conditioning center.
The Tourville Center for Strength, Conditioning, and Rehabilitation, named in honor of lead donors Mike and Summer Tourville, was officially opened for use by Heathwood athletes and PE students at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 30, 2016.
Featuring a spacious weight room, an aerobic equipment room, remodeled coaches’ offices, and ample space for training and rehabilitation, the Tourville Center was made possible through generous gifts of time and talent from alumna and architect Asheley Scott (’98) and alumnus, parent, and construction manager Davis Buchanan (’86), and by a major gift from the Highlander Club, which is paying for all the new weight and aerobic equipment. Significant donations also came from Mary and Clinch Belser, Maryanne and Freeman Belser, Missy and Davis Buchanan, Denise Davis, Will Gilfillan, Kim and Rick McGill, Jill and Rick Migliore, Margaret and Hugh Willcox, and two anonymous members of the Heathwood community.
“These new facilities will help Heathwood students perform at the highest levels, both as teams and as individuals,” said Chris Hinchey.
The Tourville Center will transform Heathwood Hall athletics in all these ways and more:
- Providing a vastly improved facility for the training and rehabilitation of our hundreds of interscholastic athletes in grades 5-12
- Offering greater access to strength training for physical education classes in grades 1-12
- Improving access to light aerobic rehabilitation and greater access for athletic trainers to resistance training rehabilitation and recovery
- Offering coaches and teams more access to resistance and aerobic training and rehabilitation
- Improving office facilities for coaches to enhance intra-athletic/PEcommunication and provide locations for hosting prospective student athletes and families
- Upgrading restroom facilities in the gymnasium
- Providing an enhanced strength training and rehabilitation center that supports a life-long commitment to and understanding of the benefits of aerobic and resistance training
- Promoting healthy life choices for all members of the Heathwood community, including students, parents, and alumni
Heathwood Boys Varsity Head Soccer Coach Andrew Richardson capped off a stellar 2015-16 season by being honored as S.C. Private/Parochial School Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Richardson had already been named SCISA Co-Regional Coach of the Year, but being recognized by a national body of his peers was, he says, even more of an honor.
That Richardson would have caught the attention of the NSCAA comes as no surprise to anyone who followed Heathwood soccer last spring. Despite tough competition from perennial regional powerhouses Cardinal Newman and Hammond, Heathwood had a strong season and then blazed through the playoffs to finish as SCISA AAA State Runner-Up.
Expectations for this year’s team, Richardson says, are just as high: “I expect us to make the same kind of run we’ve had in the last two years.”
Here, Richardson, who is entering his sixth year with the Heathwood soccer program, talks about what the award means to him and to the program, why he loves his job, and what he appreciates most about coaching at Heathwood.
What was especially notable about last year’s soccer season for you?
I was really fortunate to be around the kids we had on the team, and I worked really hard to put together a great coaching staff. Our goals for ourselves were higher than outsiders’ expectations, but I always expected this team to be good. We had 14 juniors and seniors, and all of them had been on the Varsity team for at least four years, so they had seen every team and had played in big games, so nothing phased them. That’s half the battle in high school sports—just being able to handle the moment. People were impressed that we won some of the games that we did, but I knew these guys had it in them.
What do you think was the reason the team was able to exceed expectations?
I think our culture here at Heathwood is second to none. Our kids believe in what we’re preaching and take pride in representing themselves and our school and the way we do things. They’ve grown up in this program—they were JV kids who turned into Varsity players and they spent all that time wanting to get to where we did this year. They were very motivated to prove themselves.
Apart from getting all the way to the state championship game, what made you most proud of this team?
There are so many things these guys accomplished beyond what people had a chance to see. For example, in five years, the six seniors on the team won 48 games and beat every team we play in SCISA at least once. And we have a team GPA of 3.86.
What do you love about coaching?
I was fortunate to have really good coaches when I was growing up. They didn’t just teach me to play the game, they taught me to have a passion for the game. And they instilled certain values in me that I wanted to pass on. When I got hurt in college and had to end my playing career, I knew coaching would keep me in the game and give me a platform to share the values my coaches shared with me.
What do you appreciate about coaching at Heathwood?
Jeff Whalen is as good a boss as you could ever have as a coach, and I will be forever grateful to him for taking a chance on me. Beyond that, I really like the way our community is set up, that teachers care about our kids and our games, and parents are energetic and involved, and kids have ownership in the outcomes of our games and want to succeed.
What does it mean to you to win this kind of award, especially so early in your coaching career?
It was a goal I set for myself, something I wanted to achieve at some point in my career. But more than anything, I look at it as a testament to the hard work that everyone in our program has put in, and as a testament to our doing things the right way. I’m proud to be honored, but I’m even more proud of our kids and our whole coaching staff.