Those of you who are parents know about the sacrifices – big and small – you make for your children as they grow up and beyond. USC freshman linebacker Skai Moore's parents have taken that commitment to another level – this summer they packed up their belongings and moved from Florida to Columbia, so they could follow his college career.
“As soon as Skai signed his letter of intent with South Carolina, I decided I wanted to take this journey with him,” Piper Moore explained. “I started looking for employment here. I had been watching him play football since he was six years old, and I couldn't imagine not watching him. There is a rush just seeing him out on the field doing what he loves to do the most.”
Mrs. Moore is senior manager for the MedCare Urgent Care Center in West Columbia, while her husband Ken works for Color Creative, a music artist management company.
Skai's first day of football wasn't exactly love at first sight. “I was a single mom at the time (she married Ken Moore in 2005), and everybody said I needed to get Skai into something that would toughen him up, and football was the first thing that came to mind.
“He was barely six, and the coach was a big man, and I guess he scared him a little bit, because he cried a few tears that first day, but after that he really started to like it, and it soon became his passion.
“He played offense and defense all the way up to high school. Any position they put him in on the field he could play. That's how he got the nickname 'Superman,' not because he was faster than a speeding bullet or anything, but no matter where they put him, he excelled. The last year he played offense was his sophomore year, he was a tight end. They even asked him to play quarterback, but defense was his first love.”
Evidence of that was Moore was rated a 4-star prospect after he helped lead Fort Lauderdale University School to an undefeated season and the Florida 3A State Championship as a senior. He totaled 103 tackles, six sacks and four interceptions, and Rivals ranked him 43rd best player in the state and 19th outside linebacker in the country.
Moore originally committed to Rutgers, but South Carolina coaches kept recruiting him.
“He developed a great relationship with Coach (Kirk) Botkin and Coach (Grady) Brown. They were very welcome here, and they talked to Skai a lot, and they talked to me about the transition from high school to college, and what he could expect. Coach Botkin built a great relationship with Skai's sister (Rayne, 6). They tell jokes back and forth. Just the fact that he took the time to build a relationship with his sister meant a lot to Skai.”
The transition from South Florida to South Carolina has been a pleasant one for the Moore family.
“It's totally different,” Mrs. Moore said. “Everyone is very nice and we're getting used to people waving at us and greeting us everywhere we go. Everyone is extremely polite. Southern hospitality truly does exist.”
Another thing that has endeared the Moore family to the Gamecock family is the parents group.
“Words cannot describe how completely embracing the family members are, especially the ones that were already here,” Mrs. Moore said. “Tammy Thompson, Dylan's mom, and Regina Wilds, Brandon's mom, are the sweetest people and they have been with me every step of the way through this journey. We all met one day on the practice field in the summer, and ever since then they have kept me updated.
“We had no expectations whatsoever when we came here. We took a leap of faith. We dropped Skai off on June 5, went back home, packed up the house and came back up here a week later and stayed in a extended-stay motel for a week. I followed up on some interviews I had made previously, ended up with a job and found a place for us to live. My family says it's an act of God. That He wanted us to be here to follow Skai, because no one is that lucky, to find a job and a house in a week’s time.
“It's been great to be able to see Skai constantly. Whenever he wants to come home and eat, he can. On Sundays we spend quality time together. I think it's helping him with the transition.
“I get phone calls at 10:30, 11 o'clock at night, 'Mommie, I'm hungry.' Dinner for the players is early, so I take him something to eat, thinking about my son and thinking about his team.”
Her son is enjoying the transition as well. “Skai has always been the type person that no matter what he puts his mind to he always excels, so he came up here with the intention of working hard and doing exactly what the coaches asked him to do. I don't know much about college football, but from what I understand it's pretty impressive for a true freshman to not only get on the field, but to be on the two-deep chart. This whole experience has been wonderful for him and us.”
Told what was said about his first day of football and the late-night snacks, Moore laughed, “My mom is giving out too much information. I found out about two weeks after Signing Day that they were going to move up here. I'm thrilled about having my family up here, having their support. It's nice to be able to go home, chill out, and have a home-cooked meal, and the late-night snacks are great too!”