Mike McCombs

McCombs: Battery Creek's Jarrett leaves behind lasting legacy

Richard Jarrett
Richard Jarrett

Former Battery Creek volleyball player Kim Nicholson remembers playing "horribly" one day and her coach, Richard Jarrett, fussing at her, like coaches will do.

But not all coaches are like Richard Jarrett.

"I remembered him fussing at me, thinking it was because of how I played," Nicholson said. "He said, 'I'm fussing at you, not because of how you're playing, but because you're not being what I know you can be.' "

Jarrett died Tuesday at his residence in Beaufort at the age of 72.

But if the adulation of his former students and players is any indication, he made a big difference in a lot of lives before he left.

Jarrett came to Battery Creek from Jasper County in the mid-1990s along with football coach James Stokes. A girls basketball coach with the Jaguars, Jarrett would be the volleyball and softball coach with the Dolphins, along with assistant football and JV basketball duties.

"He had a really big impact on our program," longtime BC athletic director John Drafts said. "His former players are always singing the praises about how much he cared.

"I think Dick had his way of letting the kids know he was in charge, and at the same time he let them know how much he loved them."

Angelina Whalen never even played varsity volleyball for Jarrett. At the time, middle-schoolers couldn't move up and play.

But she got to practice with the JV, and Jarrett had an impact, both on and off the court.

"Whenever I had self-doubt, he always had that extra little bit of confidence in me that I didn't have," Whalen said. "He instilled that (confidence) in me. He made me a better volleyball player. And he was always around. He was worried about our grades and whether or not I was a good kid.

"He always wanted the best for people. He was like a second dad to everybody."

Jessica Hayes played volleyball for Jarrett. She remembers him instilling the willingness to fight to win but she took away so much more than that.

"He was always interested in you learning something. Some kids are there just to be there. He wanted you to be there to learn," Hayes said. "He's one of those coaches you always think of. (I'm) always reminded of him and what he taught us."

Richard and his wife, Sue, came to the Lowcountry in 1991. Richard Jarrett was the girls basketball coach at the old Jasper County High School before the move to Battery Creek.

But even that was a change. He was a longtime boys basketball coach after his time in the Marines ended.

In the 1970s, he coached the boys at Metairie Park Country Day in New Orleans. His team played in the public school league and was the state runner-up in 1975 and won state titles in 1976 and 1980.

One of his players from those teams, John Derenbecker, made his way from Louisiana for Richard's services Monday at Beaufort National Cemetery.

After New Orleans and before moving to Beaufort County, Jarrett made coaching stops in Virginia, Kansas, at a junior college in Iowa and in Georgetown.

Sue Jarrett said the couple's time in Beaufort is the longest they had ever been in any one place since marrying in 1976.

Maybe it had an effect on him. But he certainly had an effect on the kids he coached here.

"It wasn't just about the sports," Nicholson said. "He wasn't just concerned with you on the court, but also off the court. He was worried about my overall well-being. That is the kind of relationship he had with us all, a father-daughter relationship."

Ironically, as a girls basketball, volleyball and softball coach in the Lowcountry, Drafts was quick to point out that the Battery Creek athlete that gives Richard Jarrett the most credit is Erving Rivers, who was inducted into the Battery Creek Athletic Hall of Fame in December, and who played for Richard Jarrett on the JV basketball team.

After BC, he went on to play at Erskine and Francis Marion and eventually for the Harlem Globetrotters.

"He was just a great man and inspirational coach. I turned out to be a pretty great player and have a great high school and professional career, but it's something in the foundation that lights our fires," Rivers said. "I learned to play from my father and brother, but I always wanted to make it further than them. He was the first coach to tell me to never let anybody tell me how far I could go and that my size was not a crutch."

Rivers said Jarrett is the one who taught him to channel his emotions.

"He noticed my attitude and anger and taught me how to translate that into my drive for the game and positive energy for my life," he said. "He pushed me really hard and always told me no one should be able to push me harder than I push myself.

"There's just so much I still needed to say to him."