A beloved South Carolina boys soccer coach has been on administrative leave since Feb. 10, and according to one parent, his suspension is because of an impassioned speech he gave.
Brookland-Cayce (Cayce, S.C.) head coach Kevin Heise is among the winningest coaches in state history, amassing 454 wins since taking over the Bearcats’ program in 1991, according to The State. His teams have made it to the playoffs in 23 consecutive seasons, and his teams have won three lower state championships and 15 region titles.
Ernie Peagler, whose son plays for the school, told South Carolina’s WIS-TV that Heise was put on leave after he gave a passionate lecture of tough love.
“I would call it more of a life lecture. I didn’t hear anybody say anything about him yelling,” Peagler told WIS. “He referenced ‘thugs’ and ‘rednecks’ in a way like, ‘You know, if you don’t apply yourselves, you can go down that road of becoming a thug.’ And he talked about rednecks at parts, from what I understand.”
Peagler added to WIS that Heise also reportedly mentioned the salary of the school’s athletic director, mentioned two students by name, and talked about student accountability, grades, and work ethic. He said a recording does exist, but no parties have obtained a copy at this point.
“I think if the district released the audio, if they can, it would clear up a lot of things,” Peagler told WIS.
Robby Setzler, Heise’s brother-in-law and former player, is B-C’s interim coach, per The State. The Bearcats are 7-3 on the season.
According to The State, Lexington Two District will hold its scheduled meeting Thursday night and likely will discuss Heise’s situation in the closed executive portion.
A petition asking for Heise’s reinstatement has gotten more than 800 signatures and a large crowd of Heise supporters is expected at the meeting.
Coach Dick Smith and Katie Smith Clampitt, who are on the board of the S.C. High School Coaches Association, voiced their support of Heise and asked for others to do the same in a post on their site.
“Kevin has dedicated his life to soccer at BCHS and the State of South Carolina and we have each at some point in our careers been blessed and thankful to be able to call Kevin Heise a friend and colleague,” the post read. “Kevin has always put his players and the development of the game of soccer in S.C. first and has always been there when others were in need.”