CoW: Walter Wilson

Coach Walter Wilson has served as the head football coach at Calhoun County High School in St. Matthews, South Carolina for the past three years. Since Wilson's arrival, his top priority has been to pull together a divided community and uplift his players academically and morally.

"Coach Wilson serves as a role model and father figure for not only his players, but for so many of our other students. He is consistently motivating and encouraging students to strive to be the best person possible," said Cynthia Johnson, Calhoun County High principal.

Through this initiative to unite the school and uplift his players, Wilson created the dress for success program at Calhoun County High. This required the players to go from suiting up in a helmet and knee pads, to suiting up in their best slacks, button-ups and ties every Wednesday. The purpose of this program was to instill pride, encouragement and motivation among the players. Many of the students did not have their own ties and belts, so Wilson personally covered the cost and provided these students with not just a tie or belt, but the opportunity to succeed. The popularity of the program permeated throughout the school and now all Calhoun County students make it a point to dress for success on Wednesdays, thanks to Wilson. Wilson has also been successful in getting his students involved in blood drives and community programs such as the Sickle Cell Anemia Walk for Life.

With the stress of school, football and other extracurricular activities, it can be easy for one to become discouraged. To keep his players motivated, Wilson sends them inspirational texts each week to keep them going and in high spirits.

Wilson values education and continually stresses to his players that they are students first and athletes second and pushes them to not simply to succeed at the high school level, but to prepare for higher education. Wilson's efforts to build up his players and guide them along the right path have not been in vain; Wilson has had three players to sign with Division I Colleges, two ranked as top five in the nation, three All-American players, two North-South All-Star players and two Shrine Bowl players. "Last year, the Calhoun County High School football team had seven players sign college scholarships to play at the next level. Coach Wilson was an important factor in this because he constantly promotes his players and expects them to perform at their highest level," said Calhoun County High athletic director Ned Nelson.

Wilson's dedication and hard work have not come unnoticed either; Wilson was named Region 5-A Coach of the Year in 2008 and Region 4-A Coach of the Year in 2007 by the High School Sports Report. He served as an assistant coach at the 2008 North-South All-Star game and earned Palmetto Champions All-Star Class A Lower State Coach of the Year honors in 2008.

Wilson graduated from South Carolina State University in 1991 and began his football coaching career at his alma mater. He and his wife, Helena, have two sons, Brandon and William.

In recognition of Wilson, Carolina Panthers Charities will donate $1,000 to Calhoun County High School's athletic department. All of this year's winners will be honored with an on-field presentation during the Panthers home game versus the New Orleans Saints on January 3, 2010. At that time, the 2009 Coach of the Year will be announced and the winning coach will receive an additional $2,000 grant for his school's athletic department.

The Carolina Panthers High School Coach of the Week program recognizes high school coaches who, through their hard work and dedication to young people, have made a difference in the lives of their players, school and community and provides high schools with financial assistance to help maintain and upgrade their football programs.

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