Great coaching, receptive players.
For longtime boys’ soccer coach Kevin Heise of Gray Collegiate, it’s a proven winning formula in his illustrious career.
The War Eagles defeated Columbia 5-2 March 16 to remain undefeated in Region 3-2A. More important, Heise became the fourth coach in SC High School League history to reach 500 career victories.
“We have been fortunate to have 'soccer players' in our programs over the years and that has certainly made coaching at the high school level much easier,” he said. “However, many of those 'soccer players' are a by-product of our involvement at the youth and club level from recreation ages 4U-12U, Junior Academy ages 8U-12U, and Select ages 13U-20 and encouraging players to play the game.
“It would be very difficult to compete at the highest high school levels without club players. We have tried to foster an environment that encourages year-round play and multi-sport involvement.”
Heise compiled most of his wins during his 26 seasons at Brookland-Cayce. During that time, he led the Bearcats to 454 victories, three Class 3A Lower State titles, seven state semifinals and 15 region titles.
Since arriving at Gray Collegiate, Heise has posted a career record of 46-17-3 with two region titles and an Upper State title appearance.
He joined a list of all-time coaching greats led by River Bluff head coach Phil Savitz (634 wins), West Florence’s Billy Andrews (594 wins) and the retired William Hosea (541 wins).
“Those guys are true pioneers of the prep game in South Carolina,” Heise said. “I am fortunate to know all three and consider them friends. They are class individuals and have given much of their careers to the high school game and I applaud them for that initiative and commitment. I am lucky to be able to do what I do and have the support of a tremendous administration and soccer community.”
Heise was not the only Gray Collegiate coach to recently each a milestone. On March 12, junior varsity boys’ coach Todd Wilkinson posted the 400th victory of his career - one which has spanned tenures at Dreher, Cardinal Newman and Brookland-Cayce.
“My staff (Ashley Hartin, Kyle Heise, and Todd Wilkinson) and I were commiserating last night after the game and reflected on what has gotten us here over the years and consistency with what we believe in is paramount,” Heise said. “We love the high school game. We insist on discipline within our teams and encourage a total commitment to the program. Deep down, kids want structure and direction and we aim to provide that for them via soccer. Once we get a group of student-athletes to 'buy in' to the process, the competition and esprit de corps drives us.”