Forever: Ray Tanner
Setting goals and the journey to achievement is something I enjoy. No matter the obstacles, no matter the toughness of the test, the path to success is invigorating. As the old saying goes, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.
Participating in athletics teaches this. We will practice more than we will ever play.
You’ll never know when you’ll be needed. In any situation or in any game. It’s about taking advantage of the opportunity when it arises.
In 2011, I remember meeting with our team in Starkville during a three-game series against Mississippi State. We had just come off of a tough 5–3 loss to the Bulldogs and our team was hurting. All three of our starting outfielders were injured and we had another game to play. In our team meeting, we talked about winning anyway. No matter how difficult the circumstances, no matter the challenges, we had to find a way to get the job done. Our team had put in the work and was prepared to win. Our three “reserve” outfielders combined for seven hits and we defeated the Bulldogs that day, 13–4.
“Win Anyway” was born.
That “Win Anyway” spirit carried us to two consecutive College World Series titles. The following year, we reached the National Championship series for a third straight year in Omaha.
I strongly believe that those lessons learned on the playing field mirror what we, as Gamecocks, have always been about. We never say die. If we’re behind late in the game, we always have opportunities to win. It’s been done before and we can do it again.
I see that resilience and relentless spirit every day with our student-athletes. That’s what participating in sports teaches you and it’s what Gamecock Athletics is all about. It’s a spirit that reaches into our community.
During the October floods, with so much devastation, our community lifted itself up, helping those in need. I heard countless stories of neighbors helping neighbors, strangers risking their lives to help people stranded by the rising waters.
We’ve been through a lot together and we are stronger because of it. As Gamecocks, we know no other way.