College of Education
For Wren Athletic Director, Anderson degree opened doors professionally
In January 2023, Anderson School District One selected Stan Yarborough as the Athletic Director at Wren High School. Wren is like family to Stan, who has more than 20 years of experience as an educator. He has also served as Assistant Athletic Director, Director of Gameday Operations and coached various sports at Wren, and prior to that, at Palmetto High School. He’s seen his teams win numerous championships—most recently the State Championship in boys basketball and Upper State Championship for girls basketball. Stan feels that his graduate program at Anderson University opened doors for successive leadership roles at Anderson School District One. He’s thankful for helpful faculty and staff who helped him every step of the way.
How did you become interested in education?
I was taking Teacher Cadets. Education was something I wanted to pursue. History and Geography was my focus. I also wanted to coach. That was the attraction. If I got into teaching I could also be a coach. I did my student teaching at Palmetto High School and it worked out that I got a job right away at Palmetto High School, so I taught ninth graders there for 15 years in the freshman academy. We created the first freshman academy at Palmetto. I coached football and baseball in the beginning, and then in my third year there I took over the golf program. I did football and golf for 12 years and ended up doing golf all the way up until I left Palmetto.
I got my master’s in the spring of 2013 from Anderson, and that opened up some doors and an opportunity to come to Wren High School to work with the admin team. I was an assistant to the assistant principal, if that makes sense. I did that for two years and dealt with discipline and that kind of stuff. My principal at the time, Dr. Seth Young, mentioned that he needed an assistant athletic director in the fall of 2017, so I got back into athletics from the admin side in the fall of 2017. I’ve been an assistant AD and I call it director of gameday operations, dealing with tickets and dealing with officials—all kinds of stuff that goes into planning events.
So I got out of the discipline side of admin and got more involved in the athletic side, which opened up this opportunity when coach Tate retired in January.
When did you know you wanted to get into coaching?
Sports has always been a big part of my life. I loved sports as a kid. I played golf all the way from seventh grade through twelfth grade. I played a little bit of football when I was in junior high school, but then golf became my focus. I love basketball. Of course our team won the State Championship in boy’s basketball. The girls won the Upper State Championship.
I love high school basketball. I love spring sports, too. Baseball is fun to watch. I played it when I was a kid, but I didn’t play it in high school. Sports have always been important. That was to me the best part about school. If you could get to three o’clock then you could go play sports after school or go to games on Friday nights or whenever.
That’s the thing about growing up in Marion. Very similar to the Wren community. It’s a small area, but they really support their teams and community—just bringing a lot of pride. I just wanted to give back from the coaching standpoint just like my coaches poured into me when I was playing, I wanted to be able to do that and pay it forward.
Is there a coach who served as a mentor and an inspiration to you?
I have two coaches in particular. The first was my football coach in seventh and eighth grade; he was also my P.E. teacher—Greg White. I grew up in Marion, South Carolina, where the head coaches were old school guys. Coach White was more of a new school guy where he would be nice to you, he could be friends with you, and still coach you hard. So coach White was certainly somebody that influenced me early on. And then my golf coach for six years was a guy named Jerry Coleman. He was also the basketball coach, so I worked with him for basketball games. I did all the stats for him. He showed me the hard nosed side, the tough love side, the “push yourself a little bit further” side. So Coach Coleman and Coach White were probably my two biggest influences growing up in Marion.
A coach who had a great influence on me as a coach and a teacher was Tommy Davis. He was a longtime football coach and athletic director at many schools. He finished his career at Palmetto. He hired me when I first got a teaching job. Coach Davis was like a father figure to us young coaches. He really had a great influence on me as a professional. I also worked with Jody LeCroy at Palmetto. We got our master’s together at Anderson. We kind of pushed each other and pulled each other through the program those two years we were in the graduate school at Anderson. We were still coaching football at the time, and you can imagine trying to coach high school football and work on your master’s. It was quite intense but we made it through and we got our admin degrees. He’s now the AD at BHP (Belton-Honea Path).
What teams are you coaching at Wren?
Since I came to Wren, I’ve been involved with girls golf for three years and then I got out of that. I’ve done boys golf for the last seven years.
As a coach, what gives you the biggest sense of accomplishment?
Just seeing the young people have success, overcoming adversity and doing things that they maybe have never thought possible, but pushing them so they don’t give up, so they get the payoff in the end; they get the attention in the end, they get the glory, they make the memories. This business is all about relationships, and I’ve been very blessed in my 23 years as a teacher and as a coach. There have been just a lot of meaningful relationships over the years and that’s the rewarding part. You don’t get a lot of thanks in this job. The “thank you” might come 10 years later. You may see somebody at church on Sunday. In a couple of weeks I’m going to teach my first student whose dad I coached at Palmetto. I call him my first “grandstudent.”
How did you decide to enroll at Anderson?
I put it off for years and finally made the decision that I needed to go back and get my master’s. I wanted a master’s where I could work my way up. Originally I wasn’t interested in the admin side. I needed something that would open doors in the future if I ever decided to move up and Anderson was offering a program in administration and supervision. In January 2012 I went over to Anderson and I met with somebody in the graduate program. It might have been a Monday we were out of school. She got me enrolled in classes that Thursday, so it was a quick turnaround. She made it awesome and super easy to get involved.
You would do seven weeks on campus, on Thursday nights, for example. Then we did seven weeks of online classes, so you could work around your busy schedule. The graduate folks at Anderson were super nice and helped me get everything in line. We did it in a matter of about three or four days. I went and met with her, I got my transcripts from Clemson sent over and then we just got started. It was about a 15 month program. Every seven weeks changing classes, and in the summertime we met on campus every day for like seven weeks. We had multiple classes. We would be there on campus, and it’s a beautiful campus, too. I fell in love with the place.
My oldest is a junior at Wren High School, and he’s coming to stay in a couple of weeks with some kind of program you guys do for high school juniors to spend the night on campus. Anderson’s at the top of the list of colleges he’s interested in. My niece is a senior volleyball player at AU. She’s getting ready to graduate this May. Anderson is in our blood now. My mother-in-law is a graduate of Anderson. I think when it was a two-year school she attended there.
We’ve been over there for volleyball games and stuff like that, so he’s seen a little bit of it. Of course we’ve got a huge Wren connection. There’s a lot of former students that I’ve had since I’ve been at Wren who are Anderson graduates or current Anderson students, so my son has made a connection with many of those as well.
We attend Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church here in the Wren area and a large connection of our youth leaders are AU graduates. That’s one of the connections my son has to the campus as well.
Looking back, what’s the most special thing about your program at Anderson?
It was tough—I’m not going to lie to you. Trying to work, teach full-time. At the time when I started my master’s I had two young kids. Eventually when I finished we had our third child. Trying to coach after school plus do the graduate program—it was a challenge, but the payoff at the end was phenomenal. It gave me a great experience. It opened some doors for me. We had some great professors. A lot of the graduate professors were different superintendents or principals in the local school system, so we were able to have a lot of meaningful discussions in our class. When we met in class, we were able to talk out scenarios. So it was just very beneficial from that standpoint. The biggest thing is it opened up doors and allowed me to further my career and brought me to Wren High School and I got a chance to step up to the admin side as well and get a taste of what the admin responsibilities were like.
Anderson’s a great campus and I may be sending one of my own there in another year or so.
Share with us something special about Wren.
The community is amazing. We had a pep rally last Thursday night and I told them at the pep rally “I’m not from this community, but they’ve welcomed me in the last eight years and they treat me like I’m family. Of course my kids are growing up here, so this is going to be their alma mater. This is their community, this is their hometown. Just a family connection. That’s probably the coolest part—the students are amazing. I’ve been blessed, because I’ve been a part-time teacher and a part-time admin and part-time assistant AD. So I teach two classes a day, and then the rest of the day I deal with athletics. So I’ve gotten the chance to get to know a lot of these families.
We have a graphic every time we have a faculty meeting, teacher meeting or whatever. The graphic says “family” and it’s got Wren High School and that’s what we are here as a faculty, staff, community. Even if you’re from a place like Marion, four hours away, they’ve just welcomed me in and now I’m a Hurricane for life. That’s not always the case in some of these local communities. Sometimes they are very protective of their own, and if you’re not from a place you’ll never be from a place. But at Wren, they welcome you right in and you’re part of the Hurricane community. And that’s been the cool thing to see over the last eight years—developing those relationships with the local community as well.
What advice would you give somebody who wants to teach and coach?
It is very rewarding, but it’s not a financial reward on the front end. It takes a lot of time, a lot of dedication, a lot of hours. You don’t get a lot of praise, you don’t get a lot of thanks… you’re not going to get patted on the back every day. But the reward is in the end. Dabo (Swinney) jokingly said the fun is in the winning. The fun to me is in the relationships, and that takes time, that takes effort. There are long nights. There’s a saying “The days are long but the years fly by.” I’m in the process of my 23rd year of education and it’s just amazing the experiences you get to have—the highs and the lows. Of course with athletics you come with the winning and the losing and things like that.
We’re on the highest of highs with our basketball programs. We had two of our teams in the State Championship on Friday. One of my buddies and mentors, Coach Fran Campbell got his first State Championship Friday night when we beat Crestwood in the state AAA Championship. So you see that side of it, the reward. He’s been coaching at Wren 39 years and finally wins the State Championship. Other people aren’t as lucky and they don’t get to experience the highs of the highs, but they do get the reward from the time that they invested in these kids, and these kids grow up and become parents, and coaches of their own. That to me is the best advice I can give—If you want to get into high school athletics—it’s a very rewarding profession but not always in the ways society rewards people. The rewards come from other things intrinsic, just the time you invest in these kids and the payout you see down the road. You don’t get the immediate reward, so to speak.
When the kids come to school, they bring their problems with them—their issues, society’s issues, and it’s a reflection of society. My wife’s a teacher as well. The reward is we get the summers off and we get a little bit of time off to do some stuff. We get the Christmas vacation, Easter, Spring Break, stuff like that, so there are some rewards from that standpoint.