COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Danny Lewis has spent the last nine years as an assistant at South Carolina State.
Starting next season, Lewis will no longer be responsible for just a unit of a team. He'll have his own team. In fact, he'll be coming back to where it all started at Heathwood Hall.
"My first experience with Heathwood football ignited my passion to coach and fueled my love of the game," Lewis said. "It was here that I learned to balance the demands of academic achievement with the challenges of athletic success. All of those lessons served me well over the course of a 20-year college coaching career."
Lewis, a Lexington native, was an assistant with the Highlanders from 1996 to 1998. After his stint with the Highlanders, Lewis had coaching stops at Newberry College, Benedict College, and The Citadel. Over his career, Lewis has served in a variety of different roles including running backs coach, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, and special teams coordinator just to name a few.
"You take something from everywhere you go: Ellis Johnson at The Citadel, Buddy Pough at South Carolina State," Lewis said. "Those guys taught me more than just X's and O's. It was learning to coach. It was more than just calling plays."
"Danny's deep experience, knowledge of the game, awareness of the Midlands and South Carolina football community, and proven track record of impacting young people and teaching character through athletics made him an attractive candidate," said Heathwood Hall Head of School Chris Hinchey. "I am excited to watch him get to work with our players this spring."
According to Whalen, Lewis will officially begin his duties as head coach in April. He'll replace Marcus Lattimore, who was with the Heathwood Hall football program for two years and coached the varsity squad last season. Despite having a new coach, the mission for Lewis will be quite similar to one Lattimore had in place.
"He is such a high character guy and it rubbed on everyone he touched at Heathwood and that's going to impact the program down the road," Lewis said of Lattimore impact on the Highlanders. "I think it's interesting because...we have an eighth-grade class that everyone on campus is excited about and that eighth-grade class, two years ago, started with Coach Lattimore. They say that group has got a wonderful work ethic. They have a desire to succeed. They have tasted success as B-teamers and JV guys and that's because of him. We're looking forward not just having a good football team this year but having a good program over the course of the next few years and further."
The Highlanders were 1-9 last season. Since 2010, Heathwood Hall has posted 17 wins. Knowing that, Lewis is ready to build a winning tradition at Heathwood.
"When you walk on campus, the morale is not down," Lewis said. "They're excited about football. They're working out in the weight room and they don't have a head coach up until today. There's a want-to there. They're high-character guys. They're smart guys. There's a want-to to be good at football and that's half the battle. So, I'm going to teach them the game. We're going to learn some fundamental, some techniques. We'll teach them some strategies, some X's and O's, but at the end of the day, you win with high-character guys, smart guys, and just the will to compete and that's already there."