Coaching legend returns to Timmonsville

The Timmonsville Whirlwinds will have a familiar face back on the sidelines on Friday night. Bill Tate, who won 297 games in 35 years, is back for a second stint as the Whirlwinds varsity football coach. The Florence County School District Four approved the hiring of Tate on Wednesday afternoon.

Tate will officially return on July 1st. In addition, Gerald Wright will return to Timmonsville as an assistant football coach and the boys varsity basketball coach.

He was fired following the 2007 season in a move that was unpopular both in Timmonsville and in the high school football community. The Whirlwinds named its stadium after the legendary coach, and now he returns to roam the sidelines at Bill Tate Stadium.

Tate began his head coaching career in 1973 and won 297 games in 35 years highlighted by two state championships in 1995 and 1999 to go along with six other appearances in the state championship game. He became the first African-American to be head coach of the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team guiding the Sandlappers to a 35-21 win over North Carolina in Spartanburg in 2004.

Tate replaces Jimmy Woods, who was fired after four years. Timmonsville finished 7-6 in 2011, but the record is deceiving. The Whirlwinds reached the state semifinals in Class 1A Division II, losing to Lake View 22-20.