Andy Palmer is all about giving everyone a fair chance, particularly when it comes to the many students who look up to him as a mentor and coach. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Orangeburg Preparatory Schools head football coach has spent more than two decades as a coach. Treating every student and student-athlete the same is key in helping him maintain the respect and admiration he’s garnered over the years.
It is the coach’s penchant for demonstrating impartial and just treatment without favoritism or discrimination that has earned him the designation as the exemplification of fairness as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It was an honor which surprised the 50-year-old.
"I was shocked. You never know in the coaching profession exactly who's happy with you and who's not. But I’ve been doing it long enough to know that that's just the way it is,” he said, smiling.
Palmer has spent 28 years as a coach.
“I've coached about everything except for volleyball. This is my 16th year as a head football coach. I did 13 of them at Edisto High School. This is my third year at Orangeburg Prep. And I'll be the head baseball coach this year. So I've done a little bit of everything," Palmer said.
The coach said he believes in the principle of fairness.
"I think that's generally the way you have to treat your students and your student-athletes, and then everybody that's associated with either the student, the student-athlete or the people that you work with. I think we’ve got to treat everybody as fairly as we possibly can,” he said.
"That doesn't mean we're going to treat everybody the same. Different situations come up in which you need to be able to handle what's going on within that situation. And so it might not always come out as the same for every person and how you deal with them, but you want to treat them as fairly as you possibly can so that they understand that they're going to get the benefit of the doubt from you,” Palmer said.
The longtime coach said he would not ask students to do something he was not willing to do himself.
"They’ve got to see if I'm going to demand things out of them, then I'll be willing to do them myself,” Palmer said.
He said it is important to instill values in the students he and the school staff work with so that they can become productive citizens.
"That's what we're shooting for as the head football coach, the head baseball coach, or just the sixth-, seventh- or eighth-grade PE teacher. … There's certain life values that can be learned through athletics and, of course, just in the classroom, the community and in the hallways,” Palmer said.
“We want to try to be as positive with them as we can. It's tough being a teenager these days. And so with the experience that we have, we’re just trying to get them through that phase of life and on into the next phase after that.”
Palmer says adults need to adapt to the situations they meet.
“If you're just going to be rigorous and say, 'This is the way we're going to do it,' then you're going to wind up losing some kids. A little bit of flexibility never hurt anybody,” the coach said.
He credited his parents, Bamberg couple Al and Norma Palmer, for molding him into the man he has become.
"My parents are absolutely the backbone of everything that I am. My mom is a lifelong educator, and my dad was in the banking profession. They followed me throughout my coaching career and are around everything that we do,” he said.
Palmer and his wife, Heather, are the parents of four children.
“I'm lucky enough to have one play for me this year,” the proud father said.
Palmer said he is appreciative of the Community of Character’s efforts to spread good character throughout the community.
"I think they do an outstanding job. We’ve done the Character Trait of the Month here at Orangeburg Prep for a couple of years and kind of always followed that. Our kids need to understand that our community's putting a great importance on their well-being and a positive character trait is a good thing to have,” he said.
“Doing the right thing is not a bad deal. … I hope that we're not losing that. I hope we're still instilling values in kids that are going to be moved on from one generation to the next,” he said.
Coach believes in fairness; Palmer recognized for his character
October 25, 2018 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer