John McKissick

John McKissick will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at The CHARLEYS, The Post and Courier's inaugural ESPY-style sports program Friday at the Charleston Gaillard Center. Grace Beahm/Staff

Three days a week, John McKissick makes his way to the Summerville YMCA.

"I get on the treadmill for a couple of miles, because it has something I can hold on to," says the 91-year-old McKissick. "Then I get on the bike. I can't see, I can't hear and my balance is bad, but I guess I'm in good shape for the shape I'm in."

Three years into retirement, the Summerville High School coaching legend hasn't lost his sense of humor.

McKissick, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Post and Courier's CHARLEYS awards show on Friday night, retired in 2015 as the winningest football coach in America.

Over 63 years at Summerville, he won 621 games and 10 state championships, influencing hundreds of young men along the way.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," McKissick said when he announced his retirement on June 15, 2015.

Today, he says, "I might have waited too long, but I enjoyed every minute of it."

McKissick these days fills his days with his wife of 66 years, Joan, tooling around Summerville and spending time with six great-grandchildren.

"I ride around and stop in at different places and speak to people," he said. "I see a lot of people and I know their faces, but I don't know their names. But we have a good time."

McKissick sometimes stops in at Green Wave football practice to watch his grandson, Joe Call, who succeeded him as head coach. And he's still a fixture in the stands during fall football games.

"I go out and watch practice, try to sit off to the side and watch," he said. "I enjoy watching the kids and seeing them perform, and watching the coaches working. They work hard.

"You might say it's watered down a little with all the schools we have now, but it's still interesting."

When McKissick retired, coaches from around the country paid tribute.

“We’re going to miss him, but we certainly understand when the time’s right, as he feels it is," said Steve Spurrier, then at South Carolina.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he learned much from McKissick. Once, he gave a talk at a coaches’ clinic and saw the elderly McKissick in the front row, taking notes.

“His presence told me you can never stop improving, never stop striving to get better and never be satisfied with your past accomplishments,” Swinney said.

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, now with the NFL's Houston Texans, will be the guest speaker at the CHARLEYS, set for 7:30 p.m. at the Gaillard Center. Tickets are available at

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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