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Willie Jeffries reflects on his historic career in sports

Jeffries made history at both Wichita State University and South Carolina State University.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Very few coaches in history have a resume that rivals that of legendary Hall of Famer Willie Jeffries.

He was the first Black head football coach at a Division One predominately white college when he took the job at Wichita State University in 1979. Before becoming the winningest coach in South Carolina State University (SCSU) football history, Jeffries coached at Howard University.

He grew up in Union County and started his coaching career at Barr Street High School in Lancaster, South Carolina. His life is an example of what it looks like to play offense and defense well.

The more he achieved, the more he brought coaches on to the sidelines that otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to call a play. For Coach Jeffries it was never just about the wins and losses. His greatest play to date means a win for every player whose life he has impacted. 

When asked what it means to be a legendary, Hall of Fame Coach, Jeffries talked about why it was important for him to use his platform to elevate others, like current South Carolina State University Coach Buddy Pough. 

Jeffries story and accomplishments are even more amazing when you consider that he never planned to go into coaching.  He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in civil engineering.  Jeffries lost his father at a young age and his mother never remarried. His football scholarship was the key to his higher education and was the beginning of career that is still applauded and admired by many.  

As a two sport athlete, Jeffries joked that his baseball coach would come to the games and get nervous on each play, worried that his pitcher would get injured.  

Jeffries has a long list of accomplishments that include but are not limited to 7 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championships, SCSU Head Football Coach Emeritus, and Order of the Palmetto recipient.  

At 85 years old, Jeffries and his wife are the proud parents of three adult children and 6 grandchildren. 

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