GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- An era ended Friday afternoon at Stratford High School as the day marked the end of Ray Stackley's tenure as athletic director and football coach.
Stackley certainly enjoyed his final year at Stratford the way he had envisioned since the state title game run. But a series of surgeries and serious blood clots stemming from a long overdue back operation have put everything in perspective on his final day.
For a guy who went full force all the time t everything, it's amazing to think Stackley is just easing back into his job on the day he walks away from it.
"I had surgery and complications. I think a lot about mortality this last year. A friend that coached at Middleton, Jim Werden, died at 62. You can't control that, the good Lord decides when you go. I wanted to get out when I was younger, when I have passion and energy to coach," he said.
But he'll channel that energy elsewhere with four grandsons at home. One team's loss is one family's gain.
"My grandparents were very influential in my life, taking me hunting and fishing. I want that with my grandkids. I'm an avid outdoorsman; duck hunting is my passion," he said. "I'll miss (coaching), but I've got a lot of hobbies. I've got a lot of things to do."
He'll say goodbye to the Xs and Os, but he won't forget the names of the players, coaches, and fans that supported him over his storied career.
"This is my home. I've been here a long time. My kids went to school here. I'm always accessible. The biggest thing I'll miss is the relationship with my players and coaches. The third biggest thing is being in control for so many years," Stackley said.
That control led to wins, to college players, NFL players, state titles, and deep playoff runs. He's as successful now as he's ever been.
But for Stackley, it's about more than the accomplishments -- it's about the legacy he leaves.
"Fame is fleeting. It doesn't last long. A lifetime is forever until the good Lord says it's over. I spent a lifetime trying to help kids," he said.
Stackley says he wife Lane will work one more year at Stratford. It will give them some time apart, but the following year they'll start to do plenty of traveling.
He's also planning to stick around the campus for a few weeks helping out new football coach Joe Marion and athletic director John Chalus.?