Memories … they tend to come and go like the wind.
For Perry Woolbright, a mental photo bank chock full of them will be made on Friday, the Batesburg-Leesville football coach leading his team into the Class 2A state title game with Abbeville. A battle between two of the state’s perennial powerhouses — each program with seven championships to their credit — plenty of excitement and buildup has surrounded the matchup, much of which the Panthers’ head man has allowed his team to soak in this week.
“None of this is about me, it’s for the kids,” he said. “All of them have spent their lives wanting to play for a state championship. They want to be a lot like their uncle, cousin, or brother and be able to say they played for or won a state championship.
“To see their excitement, it means everything.”
Even while prepares for the biggest night of his coaching career, the Batesburg-Leesville head man often sifts his memory bank, stepping back several years ago when he was first given the keys to his own football program.
“Without a doubt, I grew up as a coach down at North Myrtle Beach,” Woolbright said. “Even though I’m (at Batesburg-Leesville), I try to keep up with them and make sure they’re doing the right things. The community holds a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to start my career as a head coach.”
Among the latest in a long line of coaches, Woolbright spent four years as North Myrtle Beach football coach, finishing with a 14-28 record. He would help lead one of the great turnarounds in state football history, the Chiefs earning nine wins, most in program history at the time — two years after consecutive winless seasons in Little River.
You always want to do things by the book. Before I came to North Myrtle Beach, I was at Gaffney, Fort Dorchester and had coached in college, and had the pleasure of being around some phenomenal athletes. But in doing that, you have to make sure you’re doing the little things, those things that put you in the best position of being successful.
Former North Myrtle Beach and current Batesburg-Leesville football coach Perry Woolbright
Batesburg-Leesville is 26-11 under Woolbright’s care, making the playoffs each of his three years at the helm.
“There are so many similarities between Batesburg-Leesville and North Myrtle Beach, starting with the passion of the people and the community for their teams,” he said. “People rally around the school,not just athletics.”
Just as he keeps tabs on the progress of all things Chiefs football, the former coach also tends to receive more than his share of calls and messages during the course of the week from former players at NMB.
“I keep up with them a lot, many of which were on this year’s team,” he said. “They were junior varsity guys when I was there, and many of the kids now playing varsity were middle schoolers, and it was always big to have a hand in that program.
“It’s just great to be that close with so many people.”
According to Woolbright, arguably the most important thing learned during his time on the Grand Strand is that the simple things indeed matter.
“You always want to do things by the book. Before I came to North Myrtle Beach, I was at Gaffney, Fort Dorchester and had coached in college, and had the pleasure of being around some phenomenal athletes,” he said. “But in doing that, you have to make sure you’re doing the little things, those things that put you in the best position of being successful.”
SCHSL Weekend of Champions
Friday, Dec. 16 (at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, Columbia)
Class A – Lake View vs. Lamar, 5 p.m.
Class 2A – Batesburg-Leesville vs. Abbeville, 8 p.m.
* Games can be viewed online via nfhsnetwork.com. There is a $9.99 fee to watch.
Saturday, Dec. 17 (at Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia)
Class 4A – South Pointe vs. Hartsville, noon
Class 3A – Dillon vs. Chapman, 3 p.m.
Class 5A – Boiling Springs vs. Dutch Fork, 6 p.m.
* Games can be viewed via WWMB CW 21.