Dutch Fork coach Faye Norris planned at the end of last season to retire the jersey of then senior and All-American Alaina Coates, but had to go through the formalities to make it happen.
But Tuesday night during a game with rival Irmo, everything fell into place and the 6-foot-5 Coates, a freshman standout at South Carolina, had her No. 41 Silver Foxes jersey retired.
All of Coates’ USC teammates and the Gamecocks coaching staff were on hand for the ceremony. He mother was in attendance and her father was watching on Skype from Kuwait, where he is serving in the military.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I put a whole lot of hard work throughout my high school years and am really appreciative and blessed to have the talent to do what I did for this school. I’m really happy they decided to retire my jersey.”
Coates’ accolades are unparalleled in school history. She holds the school record with 2,261 points, 1,700 rebounds, 410 blocks, 57 career double-doubles and one triple-double. He efforts earned her The State’s 2013 Female Athlete of the Year after leading the Silver Foxes to the Class 4A state championship last season.
She has excelled in her first 15 games with South Carolina. She is averaging 12.4 points, a team-best 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
“Alaina has God-given talent,” Norris said. “You have a player like that who is willing to work hard and do all the things necessary to be great, it’s easy to coach them. I don’t know what else can be said. All her accolades match anything I can say about her.”
“It means a lot to me to have them (her college teammates and coaches) here,” said Coates, who did not find out until Monday that the school was retiring her jersey.