September 2008

Tim Singleton: A Leader of Men

Author: Steve Flannery | Photographer: John Brackett

When the man hands me a couple of “Hawkfest” posters on the way out the door, I realize that my former student athlete has become the teacher. His organization, Strive to Excel, Inc., is a vehicle to help the public schools by raising money through corporate sponsorships and local business support. I have been given the honor and duty of placing a few of these 2008 posters in some prominent public places (grocery stores were all compliant), and failure is not an option! To get an idea of the importance of his efforts to educate and instruct his young football charges, you must realize the daunting task facing him. There is a ton of data connecting participation in sports to success in life. The physical aspect is always towards the forefront of the argument; defeat of juvenile diabetes, longevity and overall health are directly tied to being active. The secondary and equally important gain from participating is spelled out by what individuals do to improve themselves as well as their communities once they’ve been part of the local, college or even professional competition. Those who don’t join in the party can become problems for our society. As my coach Mom would say, “The kids sittin’ on the bridge will always be in trouble.” Meet Tim Singleton, local football legend and supreme commander of his young troops on the gridiron. The man’s leadership is focused on including today’s youth.

I say local legend with a fondness for Mr. Singleton. He and I crossed paths back in 1987 when I was pursuing a career in teaching and coaching basketball and Tim was tearing up the quarterback depth chart at Hilton Head High. I shared an office in a small wing of the building dedicated to the arts with HHHS offensive coordinator, David Adams. (Now the Bluffton High athletic director, as I noticed last week as I cruised on 278 from Hilton Head Plantation down to mid-island, he’s still instructing young men and women on the finer points of driver education.) Our daily regimen as officemates began with his breakdown of the previous night’s practice session and how he was attempting to break in this wild colt with huge hands and a propensity to do the exact opposite of what he was asked. All the while, the kid was scoring big touchdowns or making the big play despite the protestations of his coaching staff. My anticipatory coaching excitement was piqued due to a memorable series of events: a keen observance of the young QB effortlessly dunking a tennis ball in street clothes during an outdoor recess session behind my office space; the awkward experience of having Carlos Gadson pick me up with one arm in my classroom; and hearing Dave’s recounting of Wayne Simmons gliding downfield during practice and catching a 50-yard pass from Tim with one hand. My thoughts? Bring on basketball season! Tim’s football season that year naturally led to a phenomenal season as point guard on the basketball court. His following year was equal, if not greater, and he ultimately pursued his education and scored a few touchdowns for Newberry College along the way. We sat down and caught up with a quick one-on-one over lunch.

CH2: Do you have any in-town rivalries? When you pick up the football schedule for next season, what teams pop out at you?

Tim Singleton: To be honest with you, when I first got the job I looked at the schedule and was like, whoa, this is what we need to be prepared for. Today I don’t look at it and see Bluffton High School on October 31st, Halloween. I don’t look at it and think Christian Academy or Prep…and hey, Ron Peduzzi and Tommy Lewis do a great job, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, the Hilton Head High School Seahawks are still the big show in town. Seeing those guys win titles makes me and my guys hungrier. I tell my guys those Christian Academy and Prep kids deserve all the attention they get for winning, that they can have those same kind of successes if they work hard. And they do work hard for me.

CH2: I saw that you lost a considerable amount of coaching bodies when Bluffton High opened. Was that a tough transition?

TS: When Bluffton was built, they took seven of my nine coaches, but we’ve gotten better because of it. I know one thing; we’re not going to lose our last four games of the season this year. I’m excited to be back on the field and to teach skills and teach attitudes to be successful. That’s huge. And to watch what Hilton Head High School has done in the last four years, it’s important to note how we’ve turned it around. I don’t think it’s because we’ve dropped down from a 4-A school to a 3-A school, although that has helped tremendously; but on the back side of that, we were getting better; we were competing, competing!(with drawn out emphasis).

CH2: I know you’re also a big pro football fan. You still a…

TS: Cowboys.

CH2: Yuck. Go Giants… But hey, you’re a quarterback; anything on the Brett Favre controversy?

TS: I thought that he made an emotional decision to retire. Football is such an emotional and passionate sport. If you watched him play last year, you see that his skills have not diminished by any means; he still can play, and I think he was put in that situation by the team and in retrospect he realized that he deserved the right to call it a day when he chose to.

Tim’s family is a rock of support, with wife Danielle and son’s Bryce, 10 and Jordan, 6, keeping him grounded in reality. Parenting is as tough as coaching those 50 kids he’s in charge of, on the field and off. Tim’s tenure as head coach hasn’t been without struggle. My daily logon to the Islandpacket.com while working out of the country in the Bahamas showed me how one’s inexorable style can assail you from the intrepid to goat even though you hold the title of “hometown hero.” It seems early on in his career as head coach of the football team, Tim’s coaching style and less-than-winning ways had him in hot water with some parents and administrators as well. Tim endured and overcame and the Seahawk Football program has returned to its successful ways. For me, Tim as a player was a leader among men and he’s become a leader of men.

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