Stephen Decatur High School Retires Clemson Head Coach And School Alumnus Oliver Purnell's Jersey
Principal Lou Taylor Speaks to Oliver Purnell's accomplishments As School Board, Town, and County Officials Look On.
While a lot of
things are uncertain from year to year at Stephen Decatur high school,
there is one thing that is for certain -- Number 22 will never be worn
again. Clemson University head basketball coach Oliver Purnell came
home and was honored for his accomplishments as a Stephen Decatur
basketball player and as a collegiate coach.
On Friday night
September 19th during halftime of the Stephen Decatur-Kent Island
football game, Stephen Decatur, the Berlin town council, The Worcester
County Board of Education members, and Commissions of Worcester County
honored one of their most famous alumni. Clemson men's basketball coach
Oliver Purnell, a Berlin native, had his No. 22 hoops jersey number
retired and presented to him in a glass-enclosed case.
ceremony started off with the Stephen Decatur band coming out on the
field wearing Clemson t-shirts. Stephen Decatur principal Lou Taylor
then gave a speech on the accomplishments of Oliver and offer gifts
along with the retired jersey like a Stephen Decatur chair that he may
want to sit in at Clemson home games.
Lou Taylor Presents Retired Jersey To Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell
Lou Presents Seahawk Chair To Coach Purnell
"This is one of the biggest thrills of my life, and for me this tops it,"
Purnell said. "Going back to where it all started, understanding that this is
really the floor, the foundation for me, and realizing that this is the place
where the ceiling was removed. I started to understand that the sky is the
limit, so this is again one of the biggest thrills of my life."
Purnell, who was apart of the Seahawks' state championship basketball team in
1970, credits his time at Decatur for a lot of his own success.
"There are so many life lessons that you learn in a season and in a career," he
said, "because we lost in the championship game after going undefeated the year
before. So the sweetness of the win, I think, was personified, because of the
fact that we lost that time [in 1969]. And then every time I've thought about
anything tough, I've thought about how tough it was to get back [to the state
championship] and win it."
Purnell has led Clemson to a 194-68 record over five years and recently
received a contract extension that will keep him there through the 2013-14
"I guess I have a burning desire to compete and win," he said. "If you're
going to do that at the highest level, and the ACC is certainly that in college
basketball, you've got to work, you got to keep pushing, because if you don't,
you're going to get passed by."
Purnell never misses an opportunity to pass along some of the lessons he has
"I definitely try to take the life lessons that I've learned along the way,
including many of the ones I learned here at Stephen Decatur, and give those to
our players," he said. "I talk to our team everyday before practice, and I try
to give them a little lesson in life, a lesson in the game of basketball. Last
year, our goal was to win the national championship and win the ACC
championship. We were in the ACC championship and we didn't win it; we were in
the national championship tournament, but we didn't win it. We're going out
believing that again this year, but we understand that we have to work even
harder to make it happen, but we believe that it can happen."
Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell Discusses Call Made By Referee
Oliver Purnell's Championship Teammates Join Him In the Retirement of #22