As a kid growing up in the small community of Oatland, Matthew Richard Jr. had a dream of one day becoming the head coach of the Carvers Bay football program.
That dream became a reality on May 16 when the Georgetown County School District announced Richard will become the second head football coach in Carvers Bay history.
“To actually be here is a dream come true and I hope it can inspire other kids to dream big and work hard,” Richard said.
The district announced Richard as one of three finalists for the position on May 13, along with current West Florence special teams coordinator Aundres Leon Perkins and Joshua A. Fitzgerald, the running backs coach of the Hannover Spartans in Germany.
Since the announcement was made a week ago, Richard said he has received hundreds of texts and Facebook messages congratulating him on his new position.
“It’s a humbling feeling. I didn’t even know that many people liked me that much,” he said with a chuckle.
Richard takes over for the recently retired James “Nate” Thompson, who won two state titles in 18 years as the Bears head coach. Thompson announced his retirement back in August.
Richard played at Carvers Bay under Thompson and became an assistant coach nine years ago after playing college football at the University of South Carolina. Richard served as defensive coordinator for the Bears for the last several seasons under Thompson.
“I’m extremely excited to be able to carry on the tradition,” Richard said. “Carvers Bay has great tradition. Coach Thompson established a great program and I’m extremely happy to be given the opportunity. For the last nine years I’ve been lucky enough to serve with him. He was a mentor to me from the beginning.”
During his time as an assistant coach, Richard said he learned a lot from Thompson, including how to hold his coaching staff and his players accountable.
“One of the biggest things you can learn from coach T is how to build a winning culture and how to hold the kids accountable,” Richard said. “He always tried to push you to be the best you can be.”
While continuing the winning tradition on the field, Richard wants to be more focused on the success of his players in the classroom as well.
“I want to be a more student-centered program,” he said. “A program designed to where we can help the kids excel in the classroom. We have a lot of talented kids in the area and I want to make sure they can continue on with their passion of playing football, or whatever is in their future.”
Richard’s officially started his head coaching duties on May 17 and said there was a sense of relief around the players and coaching staff.
“I know the kids were anxious,” he said. “The assistant coaches were nervous and everyone was on edge just waiting to see what the outcome will be. But now the burden has been lifted off everyone’s shoulders and we can officially move forward.”
Richard said he will meet with administration about maintaining the current assistant coaching staff as well as bringing in a couple new assistant coaches. Richard will also meet with administration to determine whether he will continue teaching at Carvers Bay Middle School or move to Carvers Bay High School.
The Bears will open the 2019 season on August 23 with a road game against in-county rival Waccamaw High.