Making a name for themselves: Coastal Carolina football team enjoys its success

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When the University of Alabama appears in the AP Top 25 college football poll, it’s not really surprising. The school has been a dominant team in college football for many years.

It’s a little different for Coastal Carolina University’s Chanticleers.

“Being ranked has been pretty special for us,” Coach Jamey Chadwell said this week as the school finds itself ranked number 15 in the country.

Not bad, given that 2020 was the first time Coastal Carolina ever appeared in the AP poll.

But Chadwell doesn’t spend too much time poll watching.

He’s busy coaching his team, preparing for the next game and the game after that.

Not that he doesn’t welcome the attention and recognition being ranked brings to the Conway, SC school, which has a total enrollment of just over 10,000 students.

“What we’re trying to do is make a name for ourselves,” Chadwell said. “And hopefully the state is proud of us, too.”

Last season, Coastal Carolina went undefeated in the regular season and suffered its first loss of the year when it played in the Cure Bowl.

Chadwell doesn’t think of 2021 as an opportunity to repeat that success, but to aim a little higher.

“Every year is always hard,” he said. “You’re never trying to repeat. It’s can we go out and be better.”

That keeps Chadwell and his team, including about 29 super seniors (those who received another year of eligibility following a decision by the NCAA) focused on what they can control.

“The more noise on our program is challenging,” he said, noting that while he has plenty of returning players there are a lot of new players, too.

The biggest challenge there is making sure the new players know the school wasn’t always in the spotlight. In 2018 and 2019, for instance, the team’s overall record each year was 5-7.

“There was a lot of losing and a lot of heartache that came before,” Chadwell said.

His ties to football go back to his childhood in Tennessee and his dad who worked as a high school coach.

“There was a football in (my) crib,” Chadwell joked. “It’s been part of my life for a long time.”

He started playing in little league and knew in eighth grade that football was his passion. “That’s when it really clicked.”

Now, he’s the one receiving emails from young coaches asking for advice on their careers, correspondence Chadwell enjoys.

“I had some people, whether they knew it or not, who I relied on,” he said.

He still looks to other coaches like Indiana’s Tom Allen and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney for inspiration and ideas.

The camaraderie among college coaches isn’t surprising.

“Most coaches know how hard it is, so I think everybody gets along,” Chadwell said,

As the season goes on, Chadwell will use that inspiration and his own motivation to move his team forward, but he stresses he doesn’t want his players to focus solely on rankings and what others expect from them.

“I want our guys to enjoy what we’re doing,” he said. “You’ve got two months left with a special group of guys. This group here, they’ll be friends for a lifetime.”

Solid advice there.

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