Midlands prep school offers students chance to play ball

By Rick Henry - bio | email

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's a new school in the Midlands that will have a football team this fall.

Where do high school football players go when they don't have a chance to sign with a four-year college? In the past they've had to go out of state to attend prep school or a junior college. But they can now stay close to home while sharpening their skills.

Todd Helms is the athletics director and head football coach of Gray Military Academy. Helms came up with the idea of opening a prep school to help high school football players who don't have the grades or test scores to get into a four-year school. "Just got really sick of seeing guys fall through the cracks and do that," said Helms.

Helms had a vision but he needed facilities. Then he was driving around West Columbia on day and said he found the perfect site, Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School. The campus already had dorms to house the players, classrooms, a dining hall and an auditorium, which could serve as a team meeting room.

Helms said starting a prep school from scratch has been rewarding and challenging.

The Gray Military Academy War Eagles will practice on the old softball field. They'll play their home games this fall at Airport High School and Benedict's Charlie Johnson Stadium.

Tuition for one year at Gray Military Academy is $10,000. They do offer scholarships.

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