COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - The Gamecocks have establishedthemselves as a national power on the tennis court. Last year, they finished18th in the country and have won three straight matches this year.
On Sunday, the Gamecocks beat The Citadel in Charleston andit was quite the homecoming for the coach.
The man at the head of the team is Charleston-bred.
"I played for Porter Gaud and Bishop England. I wont astate title. That was the first taste of team competition I had," JoshGoffi said.
Goffi was hired as the head coach of the Gamecocks in 2010.Each year since, the team has been rebuilt. It's all part of his plan. But hedidn't exactly plan to end up coaching.
"It was either being a world class player or get out andget into finance. I decided not to use my finance degree and fell in love withcoaching for one reason. Chuck Kriese made such an impact on my life as aperson; that's my job as head coach of the Gamecocks, to help these kidsgrow," he said.
It's a bit ironic since Kriese is now the head coach at TheCitadel. He had been the legendary head coach at Clemson, where Goffi played.
"It was a little odd, The first few years were a bittough. This is now my program -- 100 percent ours. Back when I played, I bledorange. Now I bleed garnet and black," he said.
And talk about going back to his roots, Goffi's assistantcoach is another Charleston native and Clemson grad, Ryan Young.
"He's a big brother, a boss. He takes care of me. I'vebeen learning the ropes of coaching and building great relationships. We bothwant to win so we work hard and really care about the kids," Young said.
So for Young and Goffi, nothing is more important for theGamecocks than each year coming home to play against the coach that makes themfeel at home.
"You see what you get and those guys got the right manthere. What their guys learn is a non-compromised way of doing things. Thereason The Citadel is great is you have rights of passage for what you earn. Hemakes his guys do the same thing at USC. I'm proud to see what's going on upthere," Kriese said.
"There's nothing better than seeing these guys comethrough tough moments. There's not a better feeling than looking at adversity,look it in the eye and come through, seeing kids persevere. There's not abetter feeling in the world. That's why we do it every day," said Goffi.
THe Gamecocks are deeply rooted in the Lowcountry and thatmeans victory in Columbia.