One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”.
The post below is the story for March 20, 2015. My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
In 1992 I was just getting settled into my new role as Head Basketball Coach at Winthrop University in Rock Hill SC when this young man walks into my office saying he has moved to North Carolina to work on his Master’s Degree at Winthrop. He had been a high school coach in Kentucky in Louisville and had just finished up one year at an assistant coach at his Alma Mater University of the South in Suwanee, TN. His name was Mark Peeler and he was originally from Charlotte, NC.
At first I really thought the entire reason Mark came to Winthrop was all professional stuff like pursuing his master’s and getting additional college coaching experience. After a couple of weeks I discovered another reason was a woman. Mark was head over heels in love with a beautiful young lady from Louisville, Kentucky named Maggie Young who was on the basketball team at Davidson College. I will write more about Mark and Maggie’s relationship later in this post. Photo below from her days at Davidson has Maggie on the left.
Mark and I talked and I immediately was impressed with his professionalism and work ethic. We didn’t have a paid position but he became part of my staff for two seasons at Winthrop. After he got his Master’s Degree he moved on to St. Andrews College for five years (1994-1999) the first two as Assistant Basketball Coach and the last three as Head Coach and Director of Athletics.
Mark Peeler left St. Andrews in 1999 and went to Erskine College in Due West, SC where he has been ever since. Mark Peeler was elevated to Vice-President for Intercollegiate Athletics on July 1, 2014 after serving ten years as Director of Athletics at Erskine. Peeler has also been the leader of the men’s basketball program the past sixteen years.
Erskine athletics looks quite different from it did over a decade ago when Mark took the reins. He has directed an exciting transformation of the Flying Fleet athletics program. Erskine has nearly tripled the number of student-athletes since 2004 and seen record-breaking fundraising totals. Erskine will have a record 360 student-athletes in 2014-15.
Mark is one of the outstanding leaders and coaches in NCAA Division II. He is really engaged in his community and his profession. Mark currently serves on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee as a representative of Division II. He also served as a member of the NCAA Division II National Men’s Basketball Committee in 2008-2012 and was chair of the Southeast Region. While at St. Andrews Mark was awarded Scotland County (NC)’s “Volunteer of the Year” in 1998 and received a Governor’s Award (NC) for Service in 1999. Mark also directs one of Erskine largest summer programs, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Mark has been honored with a Paul Harris Fellows from the rotary in 2006 and 2013 for his service to the RYLA program. His basketball team each winter coordinate and run the Upper Abbeville Recreation Youth Basketball League. Mark is a current member of the board of directors of the Lakelands Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Despite all of his individual accomplishments Mark’s great source of pride is his family and wife. That former women’s Davidson Basketball player Maggie Young is now his wife.
Promises you make babysitting the Kenney’s
Mark Peeler didn’t realize it but one of the responsibilities he had as my assistant coach was to sometimes be asked to house sit which is code for baby sit. My wife and I have always tried to have a date night and sometimes Mark Peeler would get the nod to watch the four Kenney children.
For the record we now have five children but when Mark was with me we had four and their ages ranged from 3-12. On one occasion we asked Mark to spent the night at the house to look after things while my wife Mira accompanied me on a recruiting trip. Mark agreed and he brought his future wife Maggie Young along to assist in keeping the Kenney troops in line. From what we could tell the night might have gone to the four Kenney children. Apparently Mark and Maggie’s babysitting game plan did not result in a victory. Our four had more energy than they got in the scouting report.
It was at this point in their relationship that Mark and Maggie knew they were eventually going to get married after Maggie graduated from Davidson. I can remember vividly them both saying after that one night of babysitting they were not going to have children.
Mark and Maggie have been married nearly twenty years with most of their married lives being in Due West, SC. In the time they have been married they have been quite the team. In fact in 2005 Mark and Maggie were both Head Basketball Coaches at Erskine College. At the time there were no other married couples serving as Head Coaches at the same school. The NCAA did a great story on the two of them and the link is below.
Sometimes promises you make babysitting go unfulfilled. I am very happy Mark and Maggie didn’t let the experience of babysitting the Kenney’s scar them. They are wonderful people, coaches, and special parents. I am proud to call them friends.