CENTRAL — As the 2017-’18 basketball season got underway, Southern Wesleyan University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Charles Wimphrie began coaching what is to be his final season before retiring.
Many of Wimphrie’s former players joined family, friends and university colleagues to honor him during a reception on the Central campus Nov. 18, just prior to the Warriors home game against Columbia International University.
University President Dr. Todd Voss commented on how few coaches last more than three years with the same athletic program, let alone 30.
“To think we’ve had somebody who’s been here 30 years impacting lives – your lives and the lives of current students today – and then – the impact that has on additional lives. That’s legacy, people,” Voss said. “That’s the kind of thing we talk about when we’re talking about multiplication effect. This is how Christianity works. You tell somebody, they tell 10 people, and they tell 10 people –pretty soon you have changed the world. Charles has not only understood that and believed that, but he’s demonstrated that every day of his life.”
“It’s been an honor to serve next to you. I’ve learned so much from you,” said Southern Wesleyan’s Director of Athletics Chris Williams. “You were one of the first people I met when I interviewed on campus. I know you were praying for that moment, you pray for me often, and I’m thankful for that.”
Columbus Stephens of Laurens remembered living across the street from Charles, watching him grow up and playing “pickup” games with him during the summer months.
“I used to play point guard; he could play many positions. He’s always been a committed, dedicated individual. I’ve always enjoyed working with him because of the Christianity and the self-confidence that he instilled in his players,” said Stephens.
Former players recalled how Wimphrie not only helped them refine their basketball skills, but also learn valuable life skills.
James Dawson, who played under Wimphrie from 1999 to 2003 and is currently Westside High School’s junior varsity basketball coach and assistant football coach, said that Wimphrie played a significant role in his life.
“He single handedly is a huge part of who I am today, hands down. I don’t think he’s had anybody who has been kicked off the team twice and then get to come back and play for him. He taught me a lot about second chances and taking the opportunity at that second chance,” Dawson said.
Ben Martin, Broome High School’s head basketball coach and also a Warrior from 1999 to 2003, said, “He taught me the benefits of hard work. Nothing’s ever given to you; you have to earn it. Even if it means starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. That’s what I try to instill in my kids every day.”
Former player Shannon Gilliard, currently pastor of Christian Baptist Church in Ware Shoals, said, “He’s played a very instrumental part in my life. He’s done a lot for me and I’ll never, ever forget that.”
Brandon Jankowy, who played for Walhalla High School before coming to Southern Wesleyan, remembered the impact Wimphrie made on his life.
“Coach Wimphrie brought me into this program where a lot of teams had given up on me. I had a bad injury in high school but he didn’t give up on me. He taught me – not just the skills on the court, but off the court – how to be a great man, a great leader, husband and father,” said Jankowy, who now works as a planner at First Quality in Anderson.
Wimphrie said to those gathered at the reception, “This school has meant so much to me. God’s got something else for me, and I have to trust what it is. You know my heart’s always going to be here.
I looked on the floor the other day and saw ‘Charles Wimphrie Court’ and I’m like, ‘am I still alive?’ And they have already launched a scholarship in my name that one of your children may get. That is absolutely amazing.”
Wimphrie continued, “A lot of this also would not have been possible without my wife. She has stayed by my side. You know how it is; you leave at nine o’clock in the morning and don’t get back until nine or 10 o’clock. She’s been very dear to me, kept me grounded in everything, and I love her for that.”
Just before tipoff in the game that followed, Williams called Wimphrie onto the court where he has both played and coached – enhanced with new court markings and his name boldly spelled on the hardwood – where enthusiastic fans applauded him for his lasting contribution to Warrior Athletics.
The Warriors went on to defeat Columbia International 70-58 that night.
A scholarship has been established in Wimphrie’s honor to carry on his legacy by assisting future students seeking a Christ-centered higher education degree. The university is seeking donors to fund this scholarship, which would be awarded annually to a deserving student.
For this to become an endowed scholarship, a minimum $25,000 must be raised as an initial step, the university said.
To support the Coach Charles Wimphrie Scholarship, visit swu.edu/giving, or contact the Southern Wesleyan University Office of Advancement at 855-644-5008 or (864) 644-5008.