Editor, Jake McElveen: So you just started coaching the East Clarendon Girls Basketball team correct?
Coach Perry Stokes: Yes this is my first year there.
Is it just the girls and just varsity?
Yes just the Varsity girls.
When were you all able to start practicing?
We have been going at it about three weeks now
How is it going?
We have gotten some things accomplished, me being brand new and them being brnd new to me has been different. I am very pleased with their effort and response to me as a new coach.
You joined the program from Timmonsville?
How were things in that program?
Well one of the reasons I decided to leave Timmonsville was because of the uncertainty of the School District there, which is under state control and there are rumors of closing the Timmonsville School down. The status of the school is a reason I decided to come to East Clarendon.
Are you teaching any classes at East Clarendon as well?
No I am retired. I was at Timmonsville 37 years and this is my 40th year coaching. I have been in it a while.
You have some considerable experience.
I guess that is one thing I do have.
What is your record like?
We won two State Championships in Timmonsville. And played for it four or five times.
That is really impressive. When is the first game?
I believe it is December 1st at Lake City.
How are you preparing for it?
We are just trying to put in everything that we are going to try and do and this Covid mess has cut all the scrimmages so we only got in one scrimmage and a ton of practice. We are ready to play against some people to see how the new group of young girls can mesh with Cooper and see what kind of team we will have.
Practice is one thing but actually playing against someone and being in action is a whole other thing.
Right. It’s hard to practice for what you will se3e in a game. Most times in girls basketball there is a big drop off after your first few players and scrimmaging in practice is not the same as scrimmaging against another team.
How is everyone handling the COVID-19 precautions and guidelines?
We are on an abbreviated schedule. We have cut form twenty to twelve games and our plan is to take three busses and JV will go and play and leave and then the boys will go and play and leave and then varsity girls and boys will go and play and leave all separate. It is a brand new thing for us and we are trying to do everything we can to stay safe and by doing it this way if we do have a case it will not affect all the teams.
Do the players have to wear masks while playing?
They wear masks at all times except when playing. While playing they can take it off and coaches have to keep theirs on all the time and there is a limited number of fans that can come in It will be a different situation for everyone.
You said you have been coaching 40 year?
Yes I was at Johnsonville two years, Timmonsville 37 and this is my first year at East Clarendon .
In 40 years have you ever seen anything like this in terms of playing?
Not at all. Nothing even close . 2020 has been different for everybody and is definitely affecting High school athletics.
New players and new coach all during a pandemic.
Right. It’s a hard situation but once we get in the gym and start playing we really forget about all that stuff until we leave. It’s an unusual situation for everyone.
Who are the players we need to keep an eye open for?
Well you know you have Something Cooper who is a great player at East Clarendon and has been for the last four years. Other than that we lost our other two leading scores and some post players. We do have a couple starters back with her as well as some new comers. Emailing names
Have you seen anything at East Clarendon that surprised you?
I don’t think anything surprised me I have been around for so long and always knew that East Clarendon was a great school and the basketball program has been real strong for the last four years. We are expecting success but again we are very young team this year and that will be a challenge.
What are the age ranges on the Varsity team?
Out of our first seven players we have an eighth grader, two sophomores and a freshman. The other three are juniors.
How has East Clarendon been treating you?
They have been very good to me. The administration and other coaches have all been very nice and a great help. I have some assistances who have been there a few years and have made the transition easy for me.