HARTSVILLE, S.C. – For Barry Harley and his family, an introduction Thursday at Hartsville High School was very much like a homecoming, he said.
“It really is a coming home for us,” Harley said after being introduced as the Red Foxes' new athletic director. “My wife’s a graduate of Cheraw High School, and her father is head football coach at Cheraw. But we met in Darlington, and our daughter was born here, so it’s just a very unique and special time for us. It really is.”
Residents of Darlington County will remember the name, as Harley served at St. John’s High School from 1988-1995 as a teacher, football coach and athletic director.
“Well, I think the No. 1 thing that brought me back is I do think this is one of the premier jobs in the state,” Harley said. “I think anybody would tell you that having an opportunity to come here be part of what this program is and what they do. It’s a complete athletic program.
“(Principal Corey) Lewis has a vision, and I have a vision and the coaches and community have a vision. We want to grow that and see it so that when everyone hears Hartsville High School, that the same things are happening and even better things are happening.”
First, though, Harley intends to sit down with coaches and administrators and get a sense of what their particular needs are.
“Right now, my biggest thing is building a bond and a relationship with these coaches, with this staff and with these students,” he said.
Harley brings plenty of experience to the table in that department after serving in the S.C. public school system for nearly 40 years.
A graduate of Batesburg-Leesville High School, Harley earned Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Presbyterian College and holds a Master of Education in Health Education from the University of South Carolina, as well as his Master’s +30 from Clemson University.
Harley served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1979 to 1986. Since then, he’s had both football coaching and AD stops at St. John’s, West Oak, Mid-Carolina and Gilbert High Schools.
Lewis, who was not in attendance because of a previously scheduled conference trip, praised Harley’s abilities in that area via a statement read at the introductory conference.
“Coach Harley’s track record of building relationships throughout the communities in which he has worked and his experience working in other schools and with other coaches and administrators were very attractive,” Lewis said. “The combination of Coach Harley’s skills and our school’s rich athletic tradition can create an environment that is second to none for our student-athletes and coaches.”
Harley is looking forward to just focusing on his AD duties this time around though, he said.
“This is where I commend Darlington County, because they’re so far ahead of the game,” Harley said. “I think with the dynamics of things today, it’s awfully hard to be a head coach and an AD. Here I can focus in on the things I need to focus on, and I can give all my attention to each and every person, each and every sport and each every kid without being distracted for a six-month period.
“I’m very excited about that part.”
The Red Foxes have enjoyed athletic success across the board in recent years, and Harley is looking for that trend to continue to grow.
“Everywhere I’ve been, the expectations are always the same,” he said. “My role is to make sure I make (the coaches’) positions as easy as possible so that they’re able to coach and do the things that they want to do.
“We don’t want that to be unique to just certain sports or the power sports. We want everything so that any kid here that wants to participate in athletics, we want to provide them with the ability to do that.”