Brothers Dedicate 40 Years to Coaching Youth

Brothers Chuck and Steve Raley will be honored on Sept. 22 for their 40 years of coaching youth at Drawdy Park.

Brothers Chuck and Steve Raley will be honored on Sept. 22 for their 40 years of coaching youth at Drawdy Park.

WINNSBORO (Aug. 25, 2016) – Coaching is the kind of thing that gets into your blood. Not unlike the ministry, one is ‘called’ to do it.

Forty years ago, brothers Chuck and Steve Raley answered that call, and the two have been coaching football, baseball and basketball at Drawdy Park ever since.

Next month, Fairfield County’s local legislative delegation – Sen. Creighton Coleman and Rep. MaryGail Douglas – will recognize the Raley brothers for their service at a ceremony at Drawdy Park on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m.

“I’m honored,” Chuck Raley said recently. “But I don’t coach for the recognition. When you coach kids, you bond with kids, and I’ve bonded with so many kids over the years. I’ve had some really special kids.”

Chuck Raley ticked off a few names that came through Drawdy Park on their way to the NFL; names like Orlando Ruff (Seattle Seahawks), Mike Anderson (Rookie of the Year in 1984 for the Denver Broncos) and Tyler Thigpen (Miami Dolphins, et. al.).

And then there are the ones the Raleys coached who are now coaching themselves – Reggie Shaw (head football coach at A.C. Flora), Jonathan Burroughs (head baseball coach at Westwood) and Demetrius Davis (head football coach at Fairfield Central).

Davis said that during his Drawdy Park days, he played football, baseball and basketball for the Raleys, and from them he learned what it meant to be dependable.

“They never missed a practice,” Davis said. “They are both good guys. For them to continue their service for 40 years is a testament to what kind of guys they are. They’ve had a big fingerprint on sports in Fairfield County.”

A youth coach, Davis said, is a key component to any high school’s feeder program, and a youth coach must strike a delicate balance – coaching kids just enough to develop their talents, but not so much that a kid gets turned off on the sport and never plays again. The Raley brothers, Davis said, have been able to strike that balance.

“They’re one of the reasons why football has been so successful in Fairfield County for so long,” Davis said.

Remembering that the game is supposed to be fun, Steve Raley, 58, said, is part of striking that balance.

“You’ve got to make it fun for them,” Steve said. “If you try to over-coach them, it goes over their heads. You don’t want it to get too complicated or too competitive.”

Chuck, 61, said his kids may not know it, but he has them running some rather advanced plays on the football field.

“I run college plays,” he said. “They don’t know it, but they run them. I simplify them a little, but the kids today are very smart. I love watching kids learn and seeing their talent level grow. I love it when they see themselves make plays they couldn’t make when they started.”

Steve said coaching is like therapy for him, and he hopes to keep doing it for years to come.

“I enjoy being around the kids. They’re real special,” Steve said. “It’s been my pleasure to be with these kids. They pick me up a little bit. I love seeing the progress they make and watching them grow.”

The Raleys have seen a lot of changes over their 40 years as coaches, and one change, they said, is concerning.

“It seems like a number of kids nowadays are more interested in video games,” he said. “They didn’t have video games when I started coaching. Now, kids are not in as good of shape as in the past because of video games. They don’t come out and play sports like they used to.”

“I guess they’d rather do it with their fingers now,” Steve agreed.

But one thing, Chuck said, has not changed.

“The quality of talent is still there,” Chuck said. “We’ve still got a lot of good athletes in Fairfield County.”

The Sept. 22 event is free and current and former players, as well as family and friends, are invited.