CENTRAL — Coach Charles Wimphrie wrapped up his 30-plus years of coaching basketball at Southern Wesleyan University on Friday, leaving a legacy of lives touched and enriched at the school.
Former players, some coming from as far away as the Dominican Republic and Phoenix, Ariz., joined Wimphrie’s family and friends to share memories and to celebrate a career that has impacted so many lives both on and off the court.
“A lot of what coach taught was not about basketball, it was more about life. He’s always positive – even when he’s angry,” said former player Darryl Edwards, who traveled from Baltimore to celebrate with Wimphrie.
“He taught us that it was cool to love God. He put God first,” said former player Willie Buggs of Spartanburg, a member of the team during the winning 26-9 season of 1998-’99. His teammate Tim Shively, who traveled all the way from Phoenix, said he now appreciates how Wimphrie shaped his life in the same way he shaped so many others.
“At the time as a young man, we don’t realize what he’s asking of you, what he put us through, but now when you look back, that taught a lot of perseverance and then to stick with it and see it through the end,” Shively said.
“I came here in 1994 along with Tim and Buggs in ’96, so with that run from ’98 to ’99 were some of the best years. It was tough. It was hard. We think about some of the things that we went through,” said former player Duane Jones, who flew in from the Dominican Republic to honor his former coach. “Those are the things that you can look back – even with us now having kids – it helps us with our development of our own children. The things Coach Wimphrie taught us as young men back then, which has been 20 years ago, never leave us.”
“We are here to celebrate a Warrior among Warriors,” said Dr. Lisa McWherter, Southern Wesleyan’s vice president for advancement. McWherter noted that nearly $15,000 has been raised toward the $25,000 goal needed to endow the Coach Charles Wimphrie Scholarship, which will assist future student-athletes seeking a Christian higher education.
For details about the scholarship or to give a gift, call (864) 644-5008 or visit www.swu.edu/giving.
“I am so thankful for this university that gave me a chance to be who I am as a person. People call me ‘coach,’ and that’s what I do but not who I am. I say that all of the time because I build relationships with people I’m looking at now that I spent time with. I watched them grow up. Being here and having this opportunity to stay in my lane and to do what I was called to do is amazing. I couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for the grace of God,” Wimphrie said.
Southern Wesleyan University President Dr. Todd Voss presented to Wimphrie a handmade wall plaque that was fashioned out of some of the wood of the basketball court in Tysinger Gymnasium, which now bears his name. McWherter presented Wimphrie with a basketball autographed by Southern Wesleyan administrators and staff.
Later that evening, Wimphrie was applauded by fans as he prepared to coach his final game, playing the North Greenville University Crusaders.