Normal has new meaning for Carlton Terry in the seven-plus months since he was named the interim football coach at Conway.
The school he loves found itself in a heated debate about what is and isn’t appropriate for an employee. The coach he was loyal to was eventually dismissed. And the football team he once donned pads for saw a level of success in the fall that so few saw coming given all the turmoil.
Now, nearly two months since Conway High announced it would open up the position for outside applications and more than a month since the deadline for those came and went, the interim Tigers coach is in wait-and-see mode with his own ambitions. Yet his passion hasn’t wavered.
“I do want the job. I’m just waiting patiently to go through the process that was set before me. I’m just doing my best to prepare for an interview, try to do my best in that and earn this job,” Terry said, adding that he hasn’t gained much intel from the powers that be. “I haven’t been told anything by anyone. I hope to be included in the ones who have an opportunity to interview.”
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The relative silence from Conway Principal Lee James and Horry County Schools isn’t relegated to the most visible candidate. James has rejected multiple requests for comment to The Sun News in the last week; the district, through spokesperson Lisa Bourcier, has said that the process to find the next full-time head coach is ongoing. The district deemed a Freedom of Information Act request for information premature, providing no details on a tentative time line for interviews or a hire.
The posting closed Dec. 19. And while the holidays and some weather-related school cancellations have to be considered with this process, so, too, is the fact this isn’t the standard football hire. Emotions have been high since longtime coach Chuck Jordan was suspended for his role in an altercation with a student last spring. Criminal charges were dropped; however, the district elected to allow Jordan’s contract to expire at the end of November without him coaching another game.
By that point, the decision to open the position to outsiders was finalized. While a small number of coaches have said they were interested –including Aynor head coach and former Conway assistant Jody Jenerette – one of the most widely rumored men to possibly succeed Jordan ruled himself out as an applicant.
Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson, who played for Jordan from 1989-1992, said that not only did he not apply, but that he is also throwing his support behind Terry.
“After talking with my family and sitting down and thinking through this, I am very happy at Myrtle Beach High School and with the community,” Wilson said. “I decided not to apply for the job at Conway. I wish Carlton Terry the best of luck. I hope he gets the job because I want to keep it in the Conway Tiger family.”
As far as Terry, he reiterated this week what he said in November: if he doesn’t get the top job at Conway, he’ll pursue opportunities as a head coach elsewhere. He said he has yet to apply for anything, but added he has been approached by others as recently as December. That seems logical, given that he was named the Palmetto Champions Coach of the Year for Class 5A in the fall after leading the Tigers to a 10-2 mark and a region championship.
Leaving is certainly not what he’d prefer, though. Terry would like to add to his time at Conway – four years as a student and varsity football player, 14 more as a volunteer assistant, another nine as a full-time teacher/assistant coach and the last several months as the interim head coach – with a new, full-time title.
“I was hoping to know something by now,” he said. “Sometimes the process is more complicated than others. I know my time line might not have jived with other people’s time lines. So you roll with the punches.
“I just hope I get the opportunity to fulfill a goal, coaching a sport that I love in a town that I love at a school that I love.”