They are in the midst of a building boom along the once-sleepy Clements Ferry corridor, with plans for up to 8,000 new residences under construction or on the drawing boards.
At Philip Simmons High School, the benefactor of all the growth of houses and humans, they are focused on foundations. Schools and their reputations are built on academics, community involvement and athletics.
And it’s the school’s athletic foundation that often reflects a community’s connection to the school. Need proof? Just go get a dose of Friday Night Lights on a crisp autumn night.
And, it’s success on the athletic field that shows a school is producing well-rounded students who show discipline in more than one discipline. Student-athletes who shine in sports, most of the time, excel in the classroom. Multi-tasking like that comes in handy later in life.
Which brings us to Philip Simmons High School, which is now in its fourth year and is producing student-athletes.
The Iron Horses have already produced some outstanding athletes and teams. The next big expansion at the school might just be the trophy case as the Iron Horses hope to prove that Daniel Island is big enough for two athletic superpowers: Bishop England and Philip Simmons.
Success, or failure, begins at the top and works its way down. In Berkeley County, the success goes from the superintendent to the principal to the athletic director.
Dan Minkins is the AD at Philip Simmons, and if you think your job is tough, imagine overseeing 29 sports teams and 484 student-athletes while planning and improvising because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minkins must make decisions to enforce policies that reflect what is best for tomorrow’s leaders while at the same time focusing on personnel issues.
Making the right hires really helps when you are building for the future. One of the things the Iron Horses did right from Day 1 is to hire coaches who had potential. Coaches who have potential have their better days ahead and are more willing to put in endless hours to prove their worth.
One of the best examples of a good hire is the school’s football coach Eric Bendig.
Bendig had some impressive role models during his coaching journey, but the one who just might have been the most influential for Bendig was Bob Hayes, the former football coach and athletic director at Wando. Hayes, who passed away in the fall, was a family man who stressed discipline and determination in a no-nonsense approach. Sound familiar, Iron Horse fans?
But you can’t win without athletes. And excellent athletes abound at the school thanks to dedication, work and travel. The parents of these athletes can attest to that because they are often there on their child’s athletic journey.
Noah Ward will be one of the four Iron Horse icons who will be on the school’s Mount Rushmore of Sports for a long while. He’s won multiple state championships in both track and field and cross country and was named to the SCRunners.com all-decade team.
The tennis teams have enough talented players to keep a top college in winning, while big strides have been taken in sports such as soccer, lacrosse, basketball, baseball and softball.
Need proof? Just check the Iron Horse athletic schedules and go to a game.
You will see, feel, smell and breathe teen spirit.