‘Trying to stay strong’

Chris Singleton (left) with his mom, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, during his days as a Goose Creek Gator.

When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton saw Stuart Lake recently, she had some advice for the Charleston Southern baseball coach.

“She told me never to be easy on these boys,” Lake said Friday. “She said, ‘These boys need men. They’ve got boys all around them. They need a man to tell them how it works.’”

Now, Charleston Southern baseball player Chris Singleton will have to be a man for his younger sister and brother. Coleman-Singleton, his mother, was one of nine killed in Wednesday night’s shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Coleman-Singleton, 45, was a minister at Emanuel AME, as well as a speech pathologist and girls’ track coach at Goose Creek High School. Chris was a two-sport star in basketball and baseball at Goose Creek, where his mom was a vocal presence at games.

Lake, for one, is confident that Coleman-Singleton raised a son who is ready for his new role in his family.

“That’s what he’s about right now, making sure that his sister and brother are OK,” Lake said. “When I was with Chris (Thursday), he assumed that role. His mission right now is that they are OK, that they are as normal as possible.

“I believe they will be, because his mom was so strong on them to be good people.”

Chris Singleton demonstrated that strength at a prayer vigil held by

Charleston Southern at CSU Ballpark. He had not planned to appear, Lake said, but felt the need to tell the world about his mom.

“My mom was a God-fearing woman,” Singleton said. “And she loved everybody with all her heart.”

Singleton played in 50 games for the Bucs last year, batting .245. But over the past two days, Lake has learned there’s much more to the rising sophomore than baseball potential.

“You don’t now sometimes what these kids have in them until you see it,” Lake said. “We put that vigil together to help Chris, but he helped all of us. Our family went home and said, ‘He will be all right.’

“What I saw on that field is a guy who will lead while he’s playing baseball, and when he’s done with baseball.”

Singleton was supposed to go out of state to play baseball this summer, but that fell through. Lake encouraged him to stay home and play for North Charleston in the Dixie Youth league.

“He got a little more time with his mom,” Lake said.

On Thursday night, Singleton talked about his mom, and how he’s dealt with tragedy and loss.

“We are mourning right now, but I know we will get through it,” he said. “Love is stronger than hate, so if we love the way my mom did, the hate won’t be anything compared to what love is.”

Singleton said he recognizes the pain the families of other victims are feeling.

“We’ve come together as a community to try to get past these things,” he said. “Tragedy has happened, but life is going to go on and things will get better.”

He also acknowledged that the coming days won’t be easy.

“Honestly, my knees are a little weak right now,” Singleton said. “But I’m trying to stay as strong as I can while I press on.”

His coach, for one, has no doubt that Chris Singleton will press on. He sent him a text saying so Friday morning.

“I told him I’ve never been more proud of a player on a field than I was (Thursday),” Lake said. “Everyone was in tears, and he was as calm as can be. It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.”