High School Basketball

State championships take gameday fashion to whole new level for SC coaches

Watch: Championship coaches discuss their gameday attire habits

Spring Valley's Megan Assey, South Pointe's Stephanie Butler-Graham, Gray Collegiate's Dion Bethea, Dorman's Thomas Ryan, Keenan's Zach Norris and Ridge View's Yerrick Stoneman talk about their gameday attire.
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Spring Valley's Megan Assey, South Pointe's Stephanie Butler-Graham, Gray Collegiate's Dion Bethea, Dorman's Thomas Ryan, Keenan's Zach Norris and Ridge View's Yerrick Stoneman talk about their gameday attire.

Spring Valley’s Megan Assey and South Pointe’s Stephanie Butler-Graham’s teams won’t be playing each other for a state title this weekend, but they will have a competition on the sidelines.

The two girls’ basketball coaches will try to see who can be the most stylish on the bench while directing their teams at Colonial Life Arena. Spring Valley is going for its second straight Class 5A title Friday against Goose Creek, while South Pointe is in its first championship game against North Augusta on Saturday.

“It’s a personal challenge. I’ve got to step up and out-do her,” Assey said Monday of Butler-Graham. “I bought two outfits, one for upper state and one for state championship. I told my players it was on them to get us there. Saturday was creative but I got something for Friday night that is going to be a surprise for them and going to motivate them.”

Both coaches sported their school’s colors in last week’s Upper State title games. Assey broke out her green pants for the first time, while Butler-Graham had a red suit jacket and pants with a black shirt, the same outfit she wore when she coached Butler High in Charlotte to 2010 state championship.

Butler-Graham got this year’s championship outfit during a sale in November in hopes of her team making it to the championship game. She always takes pride in what she wears on gamedays, she said.

“Always loved clothes and shoes. I teach PE and am in sweats. But I prefer to be regular clothes and heels,” Butler said.

The girls coaches aren’t the only ones who will be planning their wardrobes for this weekend’s championship games. Gray Collegiate’s Dion Bethea and Dorman’s Thomas Ryan also take pride in what they wear as they look to repeat as champions.

Bethea likely will go with an all black suit and tie with a white shirt, the same thing he wore in last season’s championship game. The Gray Collegiate coach credits his wife for making sure he looks sharp on gamedays.

“When your stylist is your wife, then you are blessed,” Bethea said. “She does a good job the night before, making sure I am ready to go out and coach or do an interview.”

Ryan is letting the Dorman students decide what he wears for Friday’s game against Berkeley. Students are conducting a poll to see what he should have on for the game. The Lexington grad wore a blue plaid jacket in last year’s title game and in the first and third round of this year’s playoffs.

Ryan opted more for comfort last week and wore a blue shirt and tie, minus the jacket, in the 5A Upper State title game.

“I set the precedent last year with the plaid,” Ryan said. “It might be that plaid jacket (Friday). It is still undefeated.”

The players pay attention to what their coach is wearing. Gray Collegiate guard Khalil Robinson calls Bethea’s suit game “10 out of 10.” He was impressed when his coach wore Jordan sneakers with one of his suits for a game this season.

Spring Valley’s Lauryn Taylor said they are used to seeing Assey in sweats for school and practice, so Saturday’s outfit was a change of pace.

“Seeing that was amazing. We weren’t expecting that. She went into the locker room before us and when we came downstairs, we were like ‘Oh my gosh, coach Assey looks beautiful,’ ” Taylor said. “We will see if she can top that or not.”

While some coaches dress in style, Keenan’s Zach Norris and Ridge View’s Yerrick Stoneman go for the comfortable look when they are barking out instructions or yelling at referees.

Norris said he wore suits early in his career but that’s changed. With how much he paces on the bench during games, he wanted to be in something comfortable.

Norris’ gameday attire varies from wind suits to khakis and polo shirts.

“I just like to be relaxed on the sidelines. If I am in a suit, you can bet everything in the first few minutes is coming loose,” Norris said. “The jacket and tie would be off and the shirt would be out. The tie would be hanging on the shoulder.”

Stoneman’s gameday attire usually is a quarter-zip with a Ridge View logo on it.

“I never seen a mechanic in a suit and tie. You have to be comfortable,” said Stoneman, who hopes to lead Ridge View to its second state title. “It is more about being mentally prepared than what you look like.”

Championship game schedule

At Colonial Life Arena in Columbia

Admission is $12

TV: Games will be carried locally on WACH 57.2. Ridge View and Wilson’s game will be on WACH 57.

INTERNET: All games will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com (subscription required)

RADIO: Andrew Jackson-Gray Collegiate, Spring Valley and Ridge View games will be carried on 102.7 FM and online and the station’s app.


Class A Girls Championship

High Point Academy vs. Scott’s Branch, 3:30 p.m.

Class A Boys Championship

High Point Academy vs. Hemingway, 5 p.m.

Class 5A Girls Championship

Spring Valley vs. Goose Creek, 7 p.m.

Class 5A Boys Championship

Berkeley vs. Dorman, 8:30 p.m.


Class 2A Girls Championship

Christ Church vs. Mullins, 10:30 a.m.

Class 2A Boys Championship

Gray Collegiate vs. Andrew Jackson, noon

Class 3A Girls Championship

Keenan vs. Bishop England, 2 p.m.

Class 3A Boys Championship

Keenan vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 3:30 p.m.

Class 4A Girls Championship

North Augusta vs. South Pointe, 5:30 p.m.

Class 4A Boys Championship

Wilson vs. Ridge View, 7 p.m.

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.