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Beach resident gets to be Clemson’s Coach for the Day

Cubby with Dabo Swinny. Photo submitted

Edisto Beach resident “Cubby” Huffines got the surprise of his life on Friday, March 12, when he learned that he had won the chance to be “Coach for the Day” for Clemson University’s football team.

“We went to an active fundraiser for Tiger Coach Dabo Swinny. While there, we participated in an auction, and won the chance to be coach for a day.”

Cubby, which is a nickname for Calvert, is the son of Calvert Huffines, owner of The Huffines Company at 804 Wichman Street here in Walterboro. Cubby lives on Edisto Beach, where his grandfather, Bill Hackett, works and lives. Hackett, who is 91 years old, owns an insurance agency, works five days a week, walks every day, and plays golf three times a week.

Cubby and Walterboro resident, Jim Brown, a long snapper for The Clemson Tigers

After graduating from Maplebrook High School in upstate New York and obtaining a business degree from Leslie University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cubby, 29 years old, is currently a full-time employee at Windham Vacation Resorts. He is employed within the resort’s activities department, and has been working there for the past seven and a half years.

At an April 12 fundraising benefit, Cubby entered to win a chance to be the Coach of the Clemson University Tigers for a day. “I won the chance to be the coach for the day, and, when I got to Clemson, Coach Dabo Swinny’s brother, Trippe, told me ‘You are no longer Cubby, you are now called coach,’ and the name Cubby never came up again.”

Cubby stands amongst players in locker room before a scrimmage.

At the university, Cubby got a chance to coach an inter-team scrimmage in which the entire team was split in half, and one side played against the other. “I got to call a play, and it was a pass play, but it ended up being incomplete,” Cubby said. Just before the scrimmage began, Cubby, who was dressed in Clemson coaching apparel, which he was allowed to keep, got to run down a rather steep hill that leads to the playing field with the team members. “I ran down the hill, and then got to touch Howard’s Rock, named after Coach Frank Howard.”

Howard’s Rock sits on top of a pedestal that overlooks Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, and is one of the most visually striking traditions in all of college football.

Before each home game, Clemson Tiger players surround Howard’s Rock, rub it for good luck during the four quarters of play, and then run down “The Hill” into the stadium, which is known to both Clemson fans and foes alike as “Death Valley.” The sight of these orange-clad players rushing into the stadium has been called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”

Howard’s Rock is named after the revered Clemson coach Frank Howard, who received it as a present from his close friend, Samuel C. Jones, in the early 1960s. Jones found the two-and-a-half pound stone while traveling through Death Valley, California, and figured Howard might find some use for it back at Clemson.

The rock made a poor first impression, as Howard reportedly was to have originally used it as a doorstop. The rock was used for that purpose until the summer of 1966, when, according to Clemson legend, Howard again noticed it while cleaning his office. “Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the ditch,” Howard reportedly told Clemson booster Gene Willimon. “Do something with it, but get it out of my office.”

Willimon did as he was told. But, rather than throwing the rock away, Willimon placed it on a pedestal at Memorial Stadium, in a place he knew where Clemson players would pass.

The rock was still sitting on that pedestal when, a few weeks later, the Clemson team came back from an 18-point deficit to beat Virginia by a score of 40-35 in the 1966 season opener. Howard’s Rock legend was officially cemented into college lore when the coach later told his team, “Give me 110 percent, or keep your filthy hands off of my rock.” The team began regularly rubbing the rock in 1967, and players have been doing it ever since. They take it seriously, too. As tailback, C.J. Spiller told ESPN.com in 2007, “It’s very emotional going up there. You know it’s game time when you get on the bus and go up there and rub that rock.”

Cubby said he got to stay on the sidelines during the entire scrimmage, and even went into the team’s locker room at half time, where he met the players. He was also in the locker room before and after the scrimmage. “I got to meet all of the players, including Jim Brown from Walterboro, and I also got to tour the facilities.”

Cubby said the experience was both exciting and memorable. “It was an awesome experience, and something that I will never forget,” Cubby said. “I actually got to meet Coach Swinny, he’s a great guy, and I really liked him.”