COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Debbie Stroman Wardlaw has been a staple when it comes to Lower Richland athletics for nearly three decades.
The longtime coach of the Lady Diamonds remains one of the winningest coaches in South Carolina girls high school basketball with 482 victories and seven state championships to her credit.
On Monday night, Wardlaw announced that she was calling it a career via Twitter.
“I would like to tell everyone that I’m now taking my talents to… the house,” she said in her mock press conference posted on social media. “Yes. After 34 years at Lower Richland High School, I am retiring and I’d like to thank each and every one of you for all the memories and all you’ve given me.”
Wardlaw was showered with congratulatory comments on Facebook and Twitter following the announcement.
Wardlaw was introduced as the athletics director at Lower Richland back in 2016. That was the same year she hired Gaither and girls basketball coach Keturah Jackson. Since joining the Diamond Hornets, Gaither credits Wardlaw for being a coach to him as well.
“Just working side by side with her, not only did she teach me so many things about basketball but off the floor as well,” said Gaither. “She used to teach me life lessons to help me make decisions in life and how I should handle certain situations. She’s helped me tremendously on and off the court.”
For Gaither, getting the chance to work for Stroman is something he’ll always be thankful for.
“You always want to get somebody to hire you and give you the chance,” said Gaither. “For her to do that for me, that’s big time. I’ll always be grateful for that and I owe her. I’ll always be in debt to her for taking a chance on me.”
Lower Richland has seen its share of athletes go on to make names for themselves as professionals from Jo Jo English to Richard Seymour. However, Gaither believes Lower Richland’s “Mount Rushmore” has to include Wardlaw.
“When it comes to Lower Richland, she’s the face of LR,” he said. “No matter what coaches come through, principals, student-athletes, when you think of Lower Richland, you think of Debbie Stroman.”