Mother, teacher, coach, minister — Sharonda Coleman-Singleton did all of it, and with a smile and a style those who knew her will not soon forget.
“She always had a smile on her face ... an awesome smile,” said one colleague at Goose Creek High School.
“When she came to games, you knew she was there,” said Goose Creek Principal Jimmy Huskey. “She was going to be yelling and screaming for the Gators, and she loved Goose Creek High School.”
Coleman-Singleton, 45, was one of nine people killed Wednesday night in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. She was a minister on staff at the historic church, a role she fulfilled on top of her duties as a speech pathologist and girls track and field coach at Goose Creek High.
But the most important role she played was as the mother of three children, including her oldest, Charleston Southern sophomore baseball player Chris Singleton.
“She loved baseball and loved Chris,” Goose Creek baseball coach Chris Pond said. “She loved everyone and always had a positive attitude about everything.”
Coleman-Singleton ran track herself, at South Carolina State University, where she helped her team to a conference championship and earned a degree in speech pathology and audiology in 1991. A member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, she also earned a master’s degree from Montclair State in her native New Jersey.
She worked in school districts in Georgia before joining the Berkeley County School District in 2007, working first at Stratford and for the last eight years at Goose Creek. She earned a reputation at the latter as a fierce advocate for her students.
“She was a bulldog when it came to her kids,” an emotional Huskey said Thursday. “She cared about her kids. She was a true team player, but she always wanted more for her kids, and I admired her for that.”
As the Gators’ track coach, Coleman-Singleton attended to more than her athletes’ technique and times.
“It’s 95 degrees out there, and she’s with those girls every day,” Huskey said. “She taught those young ladies how to be better young ladies, and that can never be replaced.”
Coleman-Singleton’s older son, Chris, was a two-sport star at Goose Creek, playing baseball and basketball. She called him “Lil Chris” and sat proudly by his side on the day he signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Charleston Southern.
On Chris’ senior night during basketball season, Coleman-Singleton carried a single yellow rose in her left hand, her right arm through her son’s. She was smiling.
“She was a wonderful parent, very involved,” said former Goose Creek athletic director Chuck Reedy. “She was one of those people a lot of people looked up to and tried to emulate.”
Her son Chris posted this Thursday on Instagram:
“You were a better mother than I could have ever asked for. This has truly broken my heart in every way possible.”