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Vol V 2015

Vol V 2015

Letter from AFM - Hat's Off to You, Coach

by: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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The next time you go into our online archive of back issues at, scroll all the way down to June 2004 and open up our cover story on John McKissick.

At the time we published this profile, McKissick was the all-time winningest coach at any level of football with 510 victories in 52 years as head coach at Summerville High School in South Carolina. In the feature, he shared some of his secrets of success and longevity with our readers. He summed up his belief that football is really a simple game by commenting, “I stress that football is really just running, blocking and tackling.”

He was 77 years old at the time, and no one would have begrudged him the chance to go out on top and enjoy retirement at his beach house. Few would have predicted that McKissick would continue to coach at Summerville for another 11 seasons, but he has, adding another 111 victories to his monumental record.

On June 16th, an emotional John McKissick stood before a press gathering and announced that, after 63 seasons, 621 victories and 10 state championships at Summerville, he was retiring as head coach of the Green Wave. “I’ve had great support from everybody, my wife and children,” he said. “It’s hard to think anything could be better than my life here.”

Some of those closest to him spoke about McKissick’s legacy. “He has impacted the lives of thousands of young men,” said Summerville Mayor Bill Collins. “He is truly a living legend.” McKissick’s grandson Call, who is Summerville’s OC and is expected to be the next head coach, said of his grandfather, “He’s our coach. He’s everybody’s coach. He’s been the face of Summerville for 63 years, and that legacy will carry on.”

When we published a second feature about Coach McKissick in the fall of 2010, we explored his “Seven Keys to Long-term Success,” one of which is team discipline, which he accomplished using these 13 hard and fast rules:

1.     Be neat and clean and have my hair above my ears and collar.
2.     Not have evening dates prior to practice or game days.
3.     Be home by 10 p.m. and in bed early before school days.
4.     Never miss a practice, unless sick. If sick, I will notify one of the coaches.
5.     Not be tardy for practice.
6.     Be modest in attire. Good appearance is important, since athletes are always on parade.
7.     Not curse.
8.     Display good sportsmanship at all times.
9.     Be courteous to officials.
10.     Never fake an injury.
11.     Not smoke or use tobacco products.
12.     Not drink alcoholic beverages or use any type of illegal drug.
13.     Keep in top physical condition (eating properly, working out in the weight room, etc.)

If some of McKissick’s 13 “statutes” sound like they came out of the 1950’s, that’s because they did. But they served him and the athletes of Summerville High School well for over 60 years and we think that all coaches could benefit by having their own guidelines for player conduct.

Yes, John McKissick’s 621 wins, more than any football coach at any level, are a truly legendary accomplishment. But if you asked him, we’d wager that he is prouder of the positive impact off the field that he’s had with literally thousands of young men.

American Football Monthly salutes you, Coach McKissick. We congratulate you on your incredible coaching career, thank you for devoting over 60 years to mentoring young athletes, and wish you a peaceful and productive retirement.

John Gallup
Editor & Publisher



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