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Mike Capaccio, the director of development at Brunswick Community College, considered politicians, celebrities and sports figures to speak at the annual Community Breakfast put on by the BCC Foundation. Two years ago, the name Bobby Cremins kept coming up in conversation. Capaccio finally reached Cremins, a successful college basketball coach, after two years of communication and persistence. Cremins agreed to be the special guest speaker April 13 at the Dinah E. Gore Fitness & Aquatics Center.
The breakfast was put on to help raise money for scholarships. The mission of BCC Foundation Inc. is “to aid, strengthen and further in every proper and useful way the purpose and goals of Brunswick Community College.”
The foundation consists of a board of directors, and its president, Trisha Howarth, welcomed hundreds of members of the community. She spoke of the importance of community involvement and its impact on the students and staff at BCC. The president of BCC, Dr. Stephen Greiner, said how proud the BCC staff was of its new facilities, including the fitness center. The fitness center includes two swimming pools, a gymnasium for the basketball teams and volleyball team to host home games and an aerobics center.
“The citizens of Brunswick County helped build six new facilities on campus,” Greiner said. “And that’s very important for the ever-growing population of the school.”
Cremins, who played college basketball at South Carolina from 1967-1970, has been the head coach at Appalachian State University (1975-1981) and Georgia Tech (1982-2000). He has been the coach at College of Charleston since 2006.
Cremins has led him teams to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, two Sweet Sixteen’s and an Elite Eight. He took his 1989-1990 Georgia Tech squad to the Final Four. His stellar resume includes five regular-season conference championships, three Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships and three ACC Coach of the Year Awards. When the Yellow Jackets reached the Final Four in 1990, Cremins was named the Naismith National Coach of the Year, a list that includes legends such as John Wooden, Dean Smith, Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski.
In his stint at Georgia Tech, Cremins coached the likes of Kenny Anderson, Dennis Scott, Mark Price, John Salley, Matt Harpring and Stephon Marbury, all who moved on to solid careers in the NBA. The year before Cremins took the job at Tech, the team went 4-23. He quickly turned the program around with stellar recruiting and eventually compiled a 354-237 record for the Yellow Jackets before leaving the school in 2000.
“I was burnt out a little bit, but I knew I had something left in the tank,” he said. “I figured I would take a year or two off and then get back into coaching, and before I knew it, six years had passed.”
In 2006, the coaching job at College of Charleston was available. Cremins was contacted by the school, but it decided to hire Greg Marshall, a young, up-and-coming coach who was successful at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Marshall backed out on College of Charleston, electing to stay at Winthrop. Ironically, Cremins made the same decision at 1993, when he took the job at his alma mater, South Carolina, but a few weeks later decided to remain at Georgia Tech.
“Charleston called me and asked me if I was in or out,” Cremins said. “I told them I was in. I was ready to coach again. I felt like I had lost my purpose for a while and was not doing what I love to do. I regained that focus and purpose.”
In Cremins’ four years at College of Charleston, he has led the Cougars to three winning seasons and consecutive postseason tournament berths in the last two seasons. His team participated in the College Basketball Invitational, a relatively new tournament for teams that just missed the NIT tournament. The Cougars have not finished lower than third in the Southern Conference since his arrival.
Cremins joked that when he committed to speaking at the breakfast, he had “no idea where he was going, but this is a beautiful place.” He informed the crowd his top assistant at College of Charleston, Mark Byington, was a candidate for the head basketball job at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, located only 30 miles from the BCC campus.
The white-haired coach, not only a teacher and leader of young men, but a man who is truly passionate about the game of basketball, congratulated the BCC men’s basketball team for qualifying for the first time for the Junior College National Championships in Hutchinson, Kan.
“I’ve been to Hutchinson (for the tournament) several times. It’s a crazy scene, but it’s a great honor for your team,” Cremins said.
Cremins, who was recently admitted into the New York City and Atlanta basketball hall of fames, talked about the importance of community involvement in building a university, as well as its basketball team.
“It is great to see this many members of the community here to support the school. It would be impossible for me to do my job at the College of Charleston without the city being behind us,” Cremins said. “The school and community cannot just exist, they must co-exist.”
The breakfast ended with a short video in which BCC professors, administrators and students spoke of the importance of scholarships and the necessity of financial support so the university can continue to put out great citizens into the workforce and into the community. The presentation included several stories about students who studied hard and were making good grades but did not have the financial capacity to continue their education.
Cremins closed by sharing a story about a recent appearance on a radio show. He was asked, “What do you want people to say about you?”
“My parents always wanted their children to live the American dream, and I am living the dream,” he said. “I am a very fortunate human being.”