Fun & Touching Evening Capped Off With Lifetime Achievement Award & Luke Kuechly Q & A
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The Post & Courier held their second annual Charleys Awards (April 25th) recently at the Charleston Music Hall. The awards show come complete with a noted guest speaker and a lifetime achievement honoree. During their inaugural event in 2018 the Post & Courier honored legendary Summerville High School football coach, John McKissick, whose 621 wins and 10 South Carolina state titles makes him the winningest high school football coach of all time.
The Charleys are a combination of lighthearted and heartfelt recognition in sports mixed with humor and touching moments, all capturing the greatest moments in South Carolina sports. The show focuses on high school, college, and pro teams that reflect the good in the Palmetto State.
With local TV icon Warren Peper acting as emcee, and four of Post & Courier's top sports writers on hand, awards were doled out for a variety of unique categories, including 'most inspirational', 'team camaraderie', 'best sideline coverage', 'dynamic duo', 'best coaches pet (Dawn Staley's dog), and 'best new coach hire' which went to CSU's new head football coach Autry Denson.
South Carolina State's football coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough won for 'Best Bulldog'. Closer to home our Citadel Bulldogs Football team earned the Halftime Score of the Year award tying No. 1 Alabama 10 all at the half during this past college football season. Perhaps the scariest 30 minutes of football for Crimson Tide fans.
Clemson's David Saville who suffers from Down's syndrome was named Super Bowl fan of the year. Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney surprised Saville with the tickets. Although Saville was not in attendance he offered up a very moving account of his Super Bowl trip via pre-taped video. Long time College of Charleston basketball announcer Everett German was awarded the Play by Play Voice of the Year, a nod well merited. No one supports the Cougars as much as German.
The highlight of the evening was the second annual 'Lifetime Achievement Award' which was presented to legendary College of Charleston Men's Basketball Coach John Kresse. During his 23 years (1979-2002), Kresse won 560 games and helped put a small school in the south on the map. He retired with a 79.9 winning percentage, making him the fifth winningest coach by percentage at the college level.
Kresse was a clear choice to be presented with the second lifetime achievement award. As he's done over the past 40 years, he humbly accepted the honor, giving praise to his former players, coaches, CofC, the fans, and more importantly his family and wife Sue Somer-Kresse, who has been by his side nearly all of his years at the college. It was a moving tribute to a well deserved recipient.
The evening concluded with a 'question & answer' period with Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. The session was moderated by longtime P&C sports writer Gene Sapakoff and Peper. The 28 year old Kuechly played collegiate ball at Boston College, was drafted ninth overall by the Panthers in 2012, and has been a force in the NFL over the past eight seasons. In his debut season he earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and has played in six pro bowls and the 2015 Super Bowl.
Sapakoff and Peper asked him pressing and offbeat questions. Kuechly admitted the top two toughest stadiums to play away games at were in Seattle and in New Orleans. Something about the noise factor in domes and the opposing fans. During his time at BC he was in awe when he first took the field at Death Valley in Clemson.
Recalling one of his oddest moments during his pro career, Kuechly mentioned a Monday night overtime game against Indianapolis when he was barreling down on quarterback Andrew Luck, only to have the QB slip, then ask almost kidlike for Kuechly to help him get up. Those attending the Charley's got a few chuckles when Kuechly spoke of Cam Newton's antics on and off the field, as well as his much noted wardrobe.
The Charleston Music Hall is an ideal locale for hosting the annual Charleys, and although the 900 seat venue was only about a third full, the evening was still a success. A relaxed social hour preceded the 7pm ceremony. The Charleys are a more relaxed tongue & cheek version of ESPN's Espy Awards celebrating rare moments in time surrounding South Carolina sports. Just in its second year, the Charleys are still finding ground but appear to be a welcome annual event.
With so many people in the low country promoting values through sports the Charleys will have lots to offer as the presentations continue to grow. I expect future Lifetime Achievement honorees might be former Mayor Joe Riley, the Citadel's Les Robinson, and perhaps Bobby Cremins. Keep the awards show on your radar for 2020. It's a lot of fun and truly does celebrate some of the greatest moments in South Carolina sports.