ColaDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Columbia and the Midlands.
Gray Collegiate Academy, a ninth- through 12th-grade public charter high school opening this fall in West Columbia, announced the name of the school’s first athletic director and head football coach for this coming season.
Todd Helms, executive director of the academy, announced during a Wednesday news conference that Adam Holmes will become the school’s first athletic director and head football coach.
“I just want to thank everybody for coming out today to celebrate what we’re starting here,” Holmes said. “I want to thank Todd and the board of directors for giving me this opportunity to start a new endeavor.”
Holmes will be coming into an accelerated, collegiate program, according to Helms. Students will complete all their core classes for high school graduation in ninth and 10th grades and then will take 60 hours worth of general education requirements for college in the 11th and 12th grades. No tuition is required for Gray Collegiate Academy.
This isn’t the first head coaching job for Holmes. He was the head football coach at Orangeburg Preparatory School for the past five years, winning a region title in his first year and being named the 2008 South Carolina Independent School Association Region II-AAA Coach of the Year.
This past season, Holmes guided the Indians to their best season in over 20 years, going 11-2 and a SCISA semi-final birth.
Prior to his head coaching career, Holmes was an assistant coach at Hammond School from 2003 until 2007 and won back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007. Holmes also played collegiate football at the University of South Carolina from 1997 until 2001 under head coaches Sparky Woods and Lou Holtz and was a part of the 2000 and 2001 Outback Bowl Championship teams.
Holmes says when he was approached about the open positions at Gray Collegiate Academy, he knew this was the direction he wanted to go in.
“When we met over in December we spoke about the vision,” he said. “That’s one thing I’m big on, the vision. You have to be looking forward. That’s why God put our eyes in front of us and not behind us.”
Holmes also says that he will bring in former University of South Carolina football player Syvelle Newton to be his quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
In addition to the hiring of Holmes, Helms also introduced Dion Bethea as the boys’ head basketball coach and Anthony Toney as the girls’ head basketball coach.
Bethea was head basketball coach this past year for Gray Military Academy, which is a “post-graduate, Christian-military preparatory school” and the beginnings of Gray Collegiate Academy. In his first year at Gray Military Academy, Bethea lead the team to a 27-3 finish and a No. 9 ranking in the national post-graduate polls. He also has been head coach of the South Carolina Ravens Amateur Athletic Union team since 2002.
“I have a lot of people I want to thank and it starts at the top thanking you (Helms) for giving me a great opportunity to come over here and show people I can coach, not just AAU basketball,” he said.
Bethea is a 1993 graduate of Richland Northeast High School, where he was a two-year letterman in basketball. After high school, he played at Allen University, where he was an All-Conference player in the 1997-98 season.
Toney moved to Columbia in 2001, and co-founded the South Carolina 76ers travel team in 2005. The 76ers have made the Top 20 AAU Division One ranking five times, won 12 South Carolina AAU state championships and two South Carolina Youth Basketball of America state championships.
Toney said he had chances in the past to coach at many different high schools but that nothing “intrigued” him. He said when he knew of the possibility to coach at a place like Gray Collegiate Academy, he wanted to accept the challenge.
“When I saw this opportunity after watching Dion these last couple of years and what he’s been doing, this opportunity seemed to me like the right fit,” he says. “(It) gives me an opportunity to build a program from the beginning … that will produce college scholarship players on a regular basis.”
Helms says the school will begin as a “small, one-A high school” in the fall and will play teams not only in South Carolina but also around the country. The school also will include soccer, baseball, girls’ volleyball, softball, soccer and competitive cheerleading in addition to football and boys’ and girls’ basketball.
Helms also says they hope to have practice fields by year one and have a football, baseball and softball stadium built by year two.
More information on Gray Collegiate Academy is available here.