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Ashley Brown: Greenbrier to honor coach Mickey Derrick

Posted: January 25, 2017 - 3:04am
Former Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick will be inducted into the Greenbrier Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 31.
Former Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick will be inducted into the Greenbrier Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 31.

When you think of coaches in Columbia County it is only natural to think of Terry Holder, Jimmie Lewis, Coley Cassedy, Danny Black, etc. Those coaches have each had successful, long tenures, and have all been head coaches.

Often times, assistant coaches can be overlooked by the fans. I can guarantee you they are not overlooked by the head coaches, student-athletes, and parents. We have been very fortunate in our area to have had some great leaders coaching our kids. Heck, I was one of those kids at one time.

I played for Terry Holder, Danny Black, and many others in Columbia County, including Mickey Derrick. I had Coach Derrick for History, played for him on the Evans junior varsity baseball team and was a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Group he ran for many years at Evans. Derrick's name may not jump right out when you think of the top head coaches in the area, but only because he had a short stint as a head varsity football coach. Derrick was content to be an assistant and junior varsity coach. To Derrick, helping mold quality young men was the ultimate goal, and in that respect he was as good as they come. He was a perfect combination of positive attitude, discipline and character. A parent could not have asked for a better role model to serve as an example for their kids.

On Jan. 31, Coach Derrick will be inducted into the Greenbrier High School Hall of Fame and they could not have picked a more deserving person. For those that know Derrick, I do not even have to explain why he is so deserving. For those who do not know Derrick, here is a little background on a coach who spent nearly four decades coaching in Columbia County.

Derrick was born in Aiken and attended North Augusta High School. There, he played football, baseball and ran track. After graduating from high school, he attended Clemson, graduating in 1976. He chose to go into coaching immediately, taking a job at Jackson Junior High and High School (now Jackson Middle School and Silver Bluff High School). He loved sports, but he likely chose coaching as a profession because of his respect and admiration for the coaches he had along the way.

"At North Augusta I played for Rod Greenway and Jim Buist. They were like father figures for me" said Derrick. "My father was not in the picture and they were men I really looked up to. I was very fortunate to have them, my pastor, my grandfather, and uncles in my life."

His faith has always been very important to him, and it was a chance encounter and a little help from the Lord that led Derrick to Columbia County. He was looking for a job and he and his wife had really been praying for some direction. Derrick's wife worked at Humana Hospital at the time and she walked into a patient's room one day, and the patient asked her what was wrong. Mrs. Derrick told her that her husband really wanted a job and they had really been praying over their dilemma. She left the room and came back in a few minutes and the patient asked Mrs. Derrick if they preferred Harlem or Evans. As it turns out, that patient had been the wife of Associate Superintendent John Pierce Blanchard.

Not knowing much about either school, the Derricks chose Evans. Derrick served as an assistant football coach, spent a year coaching tennis, and also coached the junior varsity baseball team and assisted on the varsity during his time at Evans. In 1996, he chose to make the move, along with Terry Holder, to Greenbrier. Holder served as Greenbrier's first head football and baseball coach, but he made it clear he planned to coach only about four years. In 1999, when he chose to step down he lobbied hard for his good friend, Mickey Derrick, to get the football job. He had always been in the background as an assistant, but Derrick did a solid job for the Pack. Despite playing in a brutal region that included the likes of Thomson and Statesboro, Derrick and the Pack enjoyed success. In 2003, they won seven games and made the state playoffs. They have not reached either milestone since. He spent 7 years at the helm of the program and went 4-2 versus Evans and 5-2 versus Lakeside while he was at the helm. He coached Greenbrier's only two first-team, all-state players in QB Will Caywood and TE Kent Adcox.

Derrick did much more than just coach football at Greenbrier, though. Like his high school coaches, he served as a great role model for younger Greenbrier coaches, like Garrett Black and Ed Williams.

After Greenbrier, he went back to Evans from 2006-2010, then to Grovetown to coach with Rodney Holder for a season, then back to Evans, and in 2012 - after 38 years coaching in Columbia County - Derrick retired.

He was not out of the game long. Russ Schneider, who had coached under Derrick at Greenbrier, called and asked him to help out at Fox Creek. He would spend two seasons with the Predators.

One thing is clear. At every stop along his long career, Derrick accumulated lifelong friends.

"He cared about people and those relationships were important to him. He was not just a co-worker. He was truly your friend" said Black.

If you take out the 7 years he served as Greenbrier head football coach, Derrick, was one of the men in the background. He did not get the headlines or the accolades. He was out there for the love of the game, and because he loved his players. When I asked other coaches about Derrick, what I heard the most was that he was even a better man than he was a coach. I think a lot of people would be thrilled to know the people who knew them most felt that way about them.

I asked Derrick about being honored by Greenbrier and I mentioned some of the things people have been telling me about him. As I expected, he was very modest, but he made it clear that this really meant a lot to him.

"Columbia County has been a big part of my life and I just appreciate all the people who said that stuff," he said. "It really means a lot."

Well, Coach, even though you have not heard it nearly enough, you meant a lot to all of us. All who played for you, coached with you, took your classes, and got to know you over the last 40 years. I speak for that group when I say: Congratulations on a well deserved honor.

Note: Coach Derrick will be honored between the girls and boys basketball games on Jan. 31 when Greenbrier plays host to Grovetown.

 

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