Eye of the Tyler: Youth football bigger than a game for local volunteer coach

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

The 12U Mount Pleasant All-Stars football team celebrates its state championship victory after the awards ceremony in Florence. Team members include (bottom row, from left) David Brown, Lucas Fister, Jerrod Brown, Myles McGrew, Austin Comer, Traiquan Horry, Ben Daniel, Huw Meredith, Leo Albano, Owen Bailey, Gerald Shephard, (top row, from left) assistant coach Leo Albano, McCrae Williamson, Jesse Riddle, Hayden McQueen, Wes Palmer, Jacob Wilkins, Rory Cradock, head coach Ric Biggers, Mac Hunter, David Carico, Connor McCarthy, Owen McNulty, John Massa, assistant coach Dave Bailey, J.T. Smeltzer, Cameron Fishburne and assistant coach Thomas Meredith. Not pictured are assistant coaches John Massa, Sean McCarthy, Gary Riddle and Steve Wilkins.

Ric Biggers didn’t see this coming, but a few people did.
In a literal sense, Biggers, a Mount Pleasant Recreation Department volunteer coach, didn’t know a story would be written about him. One of the recreation department’s athletic directors Jay Rhodes and department assistant coach Thomas Meredith were in on it.
Biggers had been in contact with the Moultrie News about submitting a photo of the 12U Mount Pleasant All-Star football team, which beat Rock Hill 34-0 two weekends ago to earn another state championship for the area.
The title path was dominating, with the team scoring 138 points through four games, while allowing 14. The kids rightfully should get congratulated for their efforts, so players, grab this newspaper and tap yourself on the back a few times.
The Mount Pleasant All-Stars started their run with a 42-8 victory over Tri-County. Then, they followed that with a 48-0 win against Orangeburg. Dillon proved to be the toughest test, but Mount Pleasant edged the host 14-6, which earned them a championship game against Rock Hill.
The roster was made up of players from Moultrie, Laing, Christ Our King, Cario Blue and Cario White.
But, back to Biggers, who navigated coaching youth football since August to eventually earn a third consecutive state title. Meredith praised his coaching abilities, which in youth sports, often means playing child pyschologist rather than whistle-blowing and sideline-screaming sargeant.
Meredith assisted Biggers coaching the Moultrie junior varsity program, which claimed the regular season and postseason championships with a one-loss record. Biggers was then selected to coach the All-Star team.
“He absolutely loves coaching the kids and is obviously really good at it,” Meredith said. “He doesn’t even have a kid in the program.”
In the past three years, Biggers coached two recreational teams, “often running directly from one game to the next,” Meredith noted.
His commitment to East Cooper youth earned him the title of Volunteer of the Year for football.
Rhodes said he has been coaching with the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department since 2007, but the past three seasons he’s coaches a 10-11 year old team and a 12-13 year old group, which is middle school junior varsity.
“Ric puts a lot of time and effort into coaching his teams,” Rhodes said. “He works extremely hard at being a good coach, and he has a way, like all good coaches, of getting the most out of all of his players.”
But, what stands out about Biggers is his love for the game. “I have seen him out at the fields watching games that aren’t even in the league that he is coaching,” Rhodes said. “He is just out watching MPRD football. He isn’t the type of coach who just cares when it is football season. He is always calling me up during the offseason with ideas.
“He just lives for football.”
Kids remember their youth coaches. I remember the good ones, and I remember the bad ones. At the time, you have your preferences, but you don’t think of the not-so-friendly coach as unqualified.
When you’re taught that adults deserve the benefit of the doubt, you’re not wired to think of a coach who gives his child an absurd amount of playing time and has little patience for you as an incompetent.
By all accounts of what Rhodes and Meredith say and judging by the long list of additional references I could have interviewed, Biggers is the guy who these 12 and 13 year old children will remember fondly for years. He’s the guy who will show up at a high school graduation, and former recreation athletes will seek him out to exchange hand shakes.
Effective youth coaches are the ones who rarely hold cameras at those kinds of events, because they’re often being photographed with their former players.
Ric, you may not have seen this article coming, but now you’ve been given a heads up on what’s to come – and it’s much more rewarding.

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