Philip Simmons High School assistant football coach Ashley Harvey earned a prestigious individual honor when he was recently named an assistant coach for the annual Touchstone Energy North-South All-Star Football Game.
But the way the veteran coach talks, it was a team award.
He thanked the three coaches he met along his journey as an educator and coach: Ray Stackley, Bob Hayes and Eric Bendig.
Harvey, who will begin his 37th year as an educator this fall, began his coaching career as a basketball coach at Goose Creek High. But Stackley, who was the athletic and head football coach at Stratford High, called and hired Harvey about the same time Stackley hired Bob Hayes as defensive coordinator. Bendig, the head coach of
the Iron Horses football team, hired Harvey to cash in on his coaching experience both on offense and defense.
“In my 36 years as an educator, I am very honored, very humbled and very surprised,” Harvey said. “To be named to coach in a game like this is something I never even thought about. If I had gone my entire career without something like this, it still would be fulfilling beyond my dreams.
Stackley led the Stratford Knights to one of the greatest runs in state history, including the Big 16 state title in 1999. The Knights posted a 118-18 record in a glorious 10-year run.
Hayes, who recently passed away, was the Knights’ defensive coordinator and mentored Harvey, who acted on his interest to do more than coach basketball and golf.
It turned out to be a good move and paid extra dividends when Bendig was named the first football coach at PSHS and hired Harvey, who also serves as the school’s golf coach.
Harvey said Stackley was the most influential man in his life other than his father, Ashley Harvey Jr.
“I was humbled when Ray Stackley gave me the opportunity to learn more about football and to coach football,” Harvey said. “He always was true to his word.”
Hayes was the defensive coordinator of the Knights and also served as a mentor.
“He was very patient of me,” Harvey said of Hayes, who eventually was named the head football coach and athletic director at Wando High School. “He had confidence in me. He gave me some responsibilities and trusted that I could do my job.
“I couldn’t have asked to work for two better men,” Harvey added. “Both of their mindsets were, ‘What’s best for the kids.’”
Harvey knows Bendig was the perfect candidate to launch the PSHS football program.
“Coach Bendig is one of the most passionate, detail-oriented coaches I know,” Harvey said. “He really works well with these kids and has their best interests at heart. I’m just blessed to be part of the program.”
Bendig also had a connection with Hayes, since Bendig worked as an assistant coach at Wando High. Hayes was Bendig’s best man at his wedding and was his child’s (Lilly Kate) godfather.
The annual North-South game is slated for Dec. 12 at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach.