During the week, she's a mild-mannered doctor at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Columbia, splitting her time between administrative duties and caring for those who served their country. But on Friday nights, she becomes Goose Creek High School's super fan, sharing high-fives, blasting an air horn and cheering for the Gators' football team.
Meet the wife of Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy. Debbie Reedy never really pictured herself as a high school football coach's wife. She dreamed of becoming a doctor and a cheerleader for the Washington Redskins. She didn't even like high school football when she first met Reedy in December of 2002.
"He asked me if I wanted to go to a game," said Debbie, who married the coach a year and a half later. "I finally said, 'Why not?' I went to Sertoma and a Goose Creek running back, Jamie Fordham, took a handoff down the field for a long run. My hands started sweating and my heart started racing. I was hooked. Now I do this every Friday night. I get palpitations and feel like I should go out on the field and play."
Dr. Reedy is one of many wives who spend Friday nights under the lights, yet out of the spotlight their husbands are in. Being a coach's wife can be stressful, lonely, frustrating -- and rewarding. The wives stand behind their men win or lose, despite long hours or lack of job security.
The Reedys also have to contend with distance. Coach Reedy spends the week in the Lowcountry while Dr. Reedy lives in Columbia. She arrives in town a few hours before kickoff and the couple has an early dinner. They'll discuss life, current events and the opponent, and then it's time to head to the stands. The couple will dissect the game all weekend and Dr. Reedy will even second-guess her husband while he reminds her he doesn't tell her how to practice medicine.
Joan McKissick, the wife of Summerville coach John McKissick, has been attending football games almost every Friday during the couple's 59 years of marriage. Dianne Waring, who is married to St. John's coach James Waring, has been supportive of her husband for nearly a quarter of a century.
Mrs. Waring knows that football season, which stretches from late July to early November, can mean watching the latest blockbuster movie on DVD while her husband breaks down game film late into the night.
"At times, it can be like two ships passing in the night," Mrs. Waring said. "But he always wanted to be a football coach, and I wanted to help him reach that dream. Being apart is worth it because of the effect he has on kids. The greatest thing about being a coach's wife is seeing his players succeed after football.
"It's great when a former player comes back and visits. Some of the kids are like extended family because James spends so much time with them. It's not all about winning and football. James stresses the big picture, and that's succeeding in life."
Days before football
Joan McKissick remembers a time, many years ago, when her husband wasn't a coach.
"There are a lot of stories to tell about those days," she said, recalling John McKissick's short career as a repo man. "Some of them were a little scary and some were funny, like the one time he ran into a cow when he was trying to collect a payment."
But McKissick, who turns 85 on Sunday, was born to coach football and is in his 60th year at the helm of the Summerville program. He is the all-time winningest football coach in history with 589 victories and has led the Green Wave to 10 state championships.
"I never dreamed it would be like this," said Mrs. McKissick, whose entire wardrobe is green. "He's had only two losing seasons, but he's had some rough years. Some people don't think 8-3 or 7-4 is a good season. Summerville fans are great, but they are used to perfection."
She's been a coach's wife long enough to know how to block out snide comments in the stands when the Green Wave struggles.
"And when we lose, I know that it's best not to say anything," said Mrs. McKissick, who has missed four games in 60 years. "Nothing I say is going to make him feel better. He's never adjusted to losing."
Mrs. McKissick has kept busy while her husband puts in long hours. She worked at the post office for 30 years, played bridge and became an advocate for education by serving on the Dorchester County District 2 school board.
She's also the Summerville football historian, keeping scrapbooks of the team's accomplishments over the last six decades. The scrapbooks include about 5,000 pages of Green Wave facts, stories, anecdotes and game accounts. If you want to know the last time a team defeated Summerville, you ask her -- not the coach.
When will it end? When will McKissick retire?
"I just tell him he has my full support," Mrs. McKissick said. "I don't ask him if this is the year. I know when he gives it up, he will be miserable. He doesn't have any hobbies."
But McKissick, like Reedy and Waring, has a supportive wife.
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