Jim Brown

Coach Swinney’s Community MVP

Jim Brown is a passionate individual with an unwavering dedication to community, education ,  student athletics, service, family, and Clemson University.

Jim was born and raised in Marion, South Carolina. Although his career has taken his many places, his heart remains in the PeeDee region. Presently serving as the CEO of Synergi Partners, Inc. (“Synergi”) situated in Florence, South Carolina, Jim’s commitment to the community extends far beyond his professional endeavors.

Over the years, Jim and his partners have crested employment opportunities in Florence, Columbia, Summerville, Rock Hill and the surrounding communities through the many businesses he has brought to the area. He’s visionary leadership has played a major role in the revitalization of historic downtown Florence, transforming once dilapidated and vacant buildings into thriving businesses. Today the area is home to flourishing hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and new storefronts.

Jim’s appreciation for student athletics stems from his own experience as a former student-athlete. Recognizing the transformative power of sports in shaping character, fostering teamwork, and instilling discipline, he remains a committed advocate.

Jim also embraces the spirit of giving back and is actively engaged in various service initiatives. Whether it’s volunteering his time to mentor local young athletes or organizing fundraisers for charitable causes, Jim consistently seeks opportunities to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Anyone who has spent time with Jim knows his devotion to Clemson University is unparalleled. He started paying tuition in 2006 and loved it so much, he’s still paying it today. Jim seizes any Clemson sporting event as an opportunity to spend time with the people and University he loves the most. As he and Candace have raised their 5 children, they find immense joy in witnessing their growth into compassionate individuals who strive to make a difference in the world.

Christie Rainwater

Coach Giardina’s Community MVP

Christie’s passions lie in developing others through encouragement and vision.  She is a strong believer in the power of positive thinking and encouraging others, all rooted in her faith in Jesus Christ. Christie works to a level of excellence in all that she does and also helps support those around her with their personal goals and passions.

Christie currently serves as the Mayor of Hanahan, SC. While she is confident in the difference she personally makes, Christie’s vision is to help everyone in her community to discover their God-given talents and passions and use those to be #differencemakers. While she can accomplish much, she believes that together we can accomplish much more.

Christie is also a REALTOR®. She finds true success in the thought of families making memories in their home after an experience with her. She has previously worked in the fields of both business and as a teacher in education. She is a Coach to the leadership of Women’s Ministry at Seacoast church where she and her husband serve as Elders. She is also authoring her first book on the history of Hanahan, due to release summer of 2023.

Originally from Long Island, NY, where she was born and raised, Christie currently resides in Hanahan, SC. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the State University of New York with a degree in Business Administration and Magna Cum Laude with a Distinguished Performance Award in Childhood Education from CW Post, Long Island University.

Christie’s most valued role in her life is as a wife and mother of 4 children. While her roles do not define who she is, a child of God, they do allow her to make a difference. Christie loves traveling, being outdoors, music, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.

Colonel Mike Speer

Fisher DeBerry’s Community MVP

Colonel Mike Speer began his Air Force career back in 1984 after graduating from Penn State University when he was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He transitioned from active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve in 1991, and from then on became a living legend in the Charleston community.  He flew the C-141 StarLifter and C-17A Globemaster III and became a permanent fixture around Charleston Air Force Base for almost the next two decades. In all, he served his country for over 26 years, but has never stopped serving his community, whether it be the Charleston community, the Air Force, or mentoring young aviators looking to get their first start at the major airlines flying around the world or those just trying to get their private pilot’s license so they could compete for a Air Force pilot training slot.

Even though Mike and his wife Barb have recently relocated to the Clemson area in the upstate, his legacy remains here in the Charleston area and “Speer” continues to help fellow service members and pilots successfully enter the public sector through his vast network of friendships and relationships he has created over his lifetime.

His passion for selfless behavior over his career has been an example for many that have followed him; whether it is mentoring young pilots to find their footing in the US Air Force or helping them land successful legacy employment opportunities once they’ve entered the private sector.  He has consistently championed fundraisers and other efforts to help pilots and their families in those unpredictable times of need.  Most notably, when a lifelong squadron friend and fellow service member was diagnosed with ALS, Mike quickly took action and led an effort that raised over $100,000 in funds, supplies, and donated labor to quickly renovate his home rather than waiting on the unknown and usually untimely response from the VA, ensuring his last few years were comfortable and provided for higher levels of professional care at home.

If ANYTHING happens in the community you can bet that Mike is grabbing a shovel, picking up donuts, planting flowers, or “Speer” heading the effort from behind the scenes!!

Joe Rice

Coach Beamer’s Community MVP

A skillful and innovative negotiator of complex settlements, Motley Rice co-founding attorney Joe Rice has played a lead role in resolving some of the nation’s largest civil actions our courts have seen in the past 30 years. National defense counsel and legal scholars described Joe as one of the nation’s “five most feared and respected plaintiffs’ lawyers in corporate America,” Corporate Legal Times stated in an article. “For all his talents as a shrewd negotiator … Rice has earned most of his respect from playing fair and remaining humble.”

Joe started his career helping bring to justice two once-invincible giant industries whose malfeasance took the lives of millions – asbestos and tobacco. He also negotiated the settlements with BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, held a critical role in resolutions for over three dozen families’ of 9/11 victims, was lead negotiator of the $15 billion Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Fraud class action settlement, among others. Currently Joe is Co-Lead in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL that has secured over $50 billion in settlement funds for communities across America to help combat our country’s opioid crisis.

He earned a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and a B.S. from the University of South Carolina. His wife of over 40 years, Lisa, and their daughter, Ann E. Rice Ervin, are also USC alumnae. To date, the Rice Family has helped establish the Children’s Law Center, The Rice Football Campus, and the Rice Athletic Center at USC. Joe has been awarded numerous titles and awards over his career and lifetime, but one of his favorites remains Proud Gamecock!

Abraham Mack Jr.

Buddy Pough’s Community MVP

President of Panola Enterprises, Inc,  a Mechanical Contractor in Atlanta, Georgia.

I  am a native of South Carolina, born in Pineville, South Carolina. I graduated from Cross High School in 1978. While attending CHS, I earned letters in (2) sports football and basketball. After graduating, I attended college at SCSU, majored in Mechanical Engineering Technology. I wanted to play football at SCSU, so I walked on in fall season, and earned a scholarship in the spring. I earned letters (3) years while playing football. I was also a member of the Student Alumni Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletic Association.

After graduation, I moved to Atlanta, GA. Married my college sweetheart “Sonia Garrison “, we are the proud parents of the children, Reggie and Simone. We also have (4) grandchildren, Reggie (jr)Jr, Jalil,  Sydney and Sanna.

Rev. Seth Buckley

Coach Watson’s Community MVP

Married – Robin Buckley

Four Boys

Jacob (Married to Sloane and have three boys, Kasin, Roman, and Titan)

Caleb (Married to Kaylee)


Micah (Married to Alyssa)

· Born in Gulfport, Mississippi but raised in Easley, SC

· Graduate of Furman University with Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration

· Graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters in Education with an emphasis in Youth Ministry.

· Served in several churches in South Carolina as Student Pastor including a 25 year stint at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg.

· Currently Director of Leadership Development for Fire Pit Ranch which is a non-profit that focuses on reaching young men, grades 5-12 who don’t have father figures in their lives by establishing mentoring clubs in schools throughout the Upstate.

· Written for numerous journals, periodicals, curriculum tracks and books with Lifeway Christian Resources.

· Chaplain of Dorman High School Football Team since 1997

· Assistant Director of Palmetto Boys State, sponsored by The American Legion.

· Elected Vice President of the South Carolina Baptist Convention – 2019-2020 – First non-Senior Pastor to serve in this capacity.

· Certified Coach, Mentor, and Facilitator with the John Maxwell Team.

· Producer of The Seth Buckley Leadership Podcast.

· Producer of “Fueled by Fire” through Fire Pit Ranch which focuses on mobilizing men to be more actively engaged with reaching and guiding the next generation of young me

Mark Mitchell

Coach Hendrix’s Community MVP

Mark Mitchell grew up Atlanta, Georgia attending both Chamblee and Lakeside high schools. Mark played football for legendary coach Wayman Creel at Lakeside as North Georgia region champions his senior year and was recruited by several Southeastern college football teams, but was ultimately impressed by Coach Dick Sheridan and his coaching staff at Furman University. Playing as an offensive lineman Mark was on three southern conference championship teams during his time at Furman playing for Coach, Robbie Caldwell, and ultimately earning an economics degree in four years.
After furman, Mark accepted management training position at a small fledgling Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Atlanta. He spent 25 years opening offices and territories throughout North and South Carolina, Massachusetts and finally promoted to Group vice president of the Indiana group during his last 15 years with Enterprise. In 2006, Mark retired from Enterprise to move back to his favorite place on Isle of Palms, South Carolina.
He began his second career as a real estate agent joining his friend Randy Walker, owner of Dunes Properties of Charleston selling beach homes on Isle Of Palms and Sullivans Island.
Mark now serves as Broker in Charge for Dunes offices in Folly Beach, Kiawah/Seabrook, and Mt pleasant.
During his time with Enterprise, Mark served at various Rotary Clubs in SC , Mass, and Indiana. Served on board at Childrens Bureau, Urban League, and various financial institutions.
Here in Charleston, Mark led the School Improvement Council at Sullivans island Elementary School and Wando High School. He also served as president of the Wando High Athletic booster club.
Mark has been married to his wife Lisa for 32 years and they have 4 kids that have all been athletes,great students, and are finishing college and starting new careers.
He stays active with his friends and teammates at Furman University regularly attending games in Greenville.

Lt. General Claudius E. Watts III, USAF

Coach Drayton’s Community MVP

Ret (1989-1996)

General Watts was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina on September 22, 1936. He graduated from The Citadel in 1958 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and was commissioned in the US Air Force. Following graduation, he attended the London School of Economics and Political Science as a Fulbright Scholar.

General Watts’ Air Force career encompassed thirty-one years. He served in numerous flying positions, amassing more than 7,000 flying hours and commanded various units up to wing level. He also held numerous and increasingly responsible staff positions, culminating as Comptroller of the United States Air Force, from which he retired September 1, 1989.

General Watts was named the 17th President of The Citadel on June 23, 1989 and served in this position until his retirement on August 31, 1996.