McKissick, John

September 25, 1926 –

Since beginning his coaching career at Summerville High School, McKissick’s teams have won thirteen lower state titles and ten state championships. He has compiled more than six hundred victories, which surpasses by far the victory totals of all other football coaches at any division or level.

Football coach. McKissick was born on September 25, 1926, in Greenwood, South Carolina. When McKissick was three years old, his father’s bottling business went bankrupt, just at the start of the Great Depression. The family moved to Lake City, South Carolina, where his parents opened a corner grocery that failed within two years. His family’s difficult circumstances and their manner of coping with them provided McKissick with valuable lessons that would benefit him in his future endeavors. He learned of the importance of spirituality, patience, self-reliance, and teamwork in helping his family survive the Depression.

In 1940 his parents built a house in Kingstree, South Carolina, where McKissick attended high school. There he lettered in football, basketball, and boxing. He also was senior class president and a member of the student council. During World War II he served in the 82nd Airborne Division. Afterward he attended Brevard College, where he received an A.A. degree in 1949. He next attended Presbyterian College, where he lettered in football, baseball, and wrestling. He graduated in 1951 with a B.A. degree in economics, and he would later receive a M.A. degree in psychology and education from Western Carolina University in 1969. McKissick’s first job after receiving his B.A. was as a teacher and coach of a six-man football team in Clarkton, North Carolina, in 1951. In 1952 he married Joan Carter of Kingstree, South Carolina, and he became head football coach at Summerville High School.

Since beginning his coaching career at Summerville High School, McKissick’s teams have won thirteen lower state titles and ten state championships. He has compiled more than six hundred victories, which surpasses by far the victory totals of all other football coaches at any division or level. He has coached generations of Summerville residents, and his success has resulted in him receiving a number of accolades. He has been named National Coach of the Year on three occasions. He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982 and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1990. He also has been named South Carolina Athletic Director of the Year twice. In addition McKissick has been awarded the Order of the Palmetto on three occasions.

“Born to Coach, Summerville Legend John McKissick Not About to Stop.” Post and Courier, March 22, 2012.

McKissick, John, and Billy Baker. Called to Coach. Urbana, Ill.: Sagamore Publishing, 1993.

McKissick, John, 2002. South Carolina Hall of Fame Files. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, S.C.

“Summerville’s John McKissick is the Winningest Football Coach at Any Level: McKissick Still Going Strong at 86.” The State October 28, 2012

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title McKissick, John
  • Coverage September 25, 1926 –
  • Author
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date February 5, 2023
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 3, 2016
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