Perry Woolbright usually listened to the advice his grandfather gave him except in one area.
Cecil Woolbright, the hall of fame coach who led Chapin to a pair of state championships, didn’t want his grandson to go into coaching like he, Perry’s father and three other members of the family did. Instead, he wanted Perry, to choose a different path away from the gridiron.
“I hear all the stories on how he was as a coach and how hard he was on the kids and how much he demanded of them and got out of them,” Perry said Tuesday. “For me as a grandson, I never saw that. He actually didn’t want me to go into coaching. He wanted me to be the one Woolbright not to go into coaching and go be a dentist or doctor and make a bunch of money.”
But against his grandfather’s wishes, Perry got into coaching after his playing career at Appalachian State ended. He has been head coach at North Myrtle Beach, Batesburg-Leesville and is in his second season at Lexington High School.
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Woolbright brings his Wildcat squad to Chapin for a key Region 5-5A matchup. Lexington can lock up a playoff spot with a win, while Chapin needs a win to keep its hopes alive for one of three automatic postseason spots in the region.
It will be the first time he has coached a regular season game at Chapin, whose field is named after Cecil Woolbright.
The Woolbright name has been a big part in Chapin’s tradition over the years. Cecil Woolbright went 111-35-1 during his coaching career at Chapin from 1968-80 and won back-to-back state championships in 1973-74. Cecil’s sons, Roger, Rex and Marty (Perry’s father), all played at Chapin for their father and went on to play in college.
All four Woolbrights have been inducted into the Chapin Hall of Fame. Cecil Woolbright, who died in 2002, also was inducted into the S.C. Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Chapin has meant a lot to my family,” Perry said. “With my dad and both my uncles playing there and my grandad spent much of coaching career there and stadium named after him. It will be a good night for high school football Friday night.”
Woolbright wasn’t around when his grandfather was patrolling the sidelines at Chapin or his three other stops but spent plenty of time with him growing up. He also heard many stories from his grandfather’s coaching days.
One of his favorite was when his uncle Roger broke his other uncle Rex’s jaw with a forearm tackle on an option play at practice one day.
“My grandad kicked my oldest uncles’ butt all the way into the locker room,” Perry said. “And he had to go get my grandma because my uncle had broken his jaw.”
Perry also saw firsthand when former players would see his grandfather and the impact he made on their lives. That’s something Perry also wants to have on his players.
“Anywhere you go into the Midlands or around the state, you hear stories about him. That is how I get to experience him as what he was as a coach and mentor,” Perry said. “The legacy he set was a big thing, not just his wins and losses but the effect he had on the community in Chapin.”