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Time To Talk In Detail About The Challenges/Expenses Of The HSSR Sponsoring All-State Banquets In SC

4-29-2021 From HSSR Publisher Billy G. Baker

Moncks Corner--Many parents and coaches have e-mailed, or phoned the HSSR over the past two weeks (mid-April) wanting to know the HSSR’s plans for a fall football banquet, a fall non-football banquet, a winter all-state banquet for basketball & wrestling and finally a Spring all-state awards banquet during the month of June.

The HSSR recently visited with Cal Seawell, the manager of Seawell’s Catering in Columbia. The HSSR has been doing banquet business with Seawells for over 30 years, and they do a first-class job helping us conduct what we are told are some of the best all-state recognition events for our hard-working student athletes anywhere in the nation. It is our goal at the HSSR to sponsor several banquets in June but we need input from all involved before we announce and schedule banquets for this current school year. Seawells have made several dates available to us in June.

Cal (Seawell) explained that the SC Basketball Coaches Association had held a major banquet at Seawells in early April with 550 people in attendance. He said the event went off with no major problems and that he felt comfortable catering HSSR banquets, but with a seating limit of around 600 people factoring in social distancing guidelines between tables.

This might work out okay (but not ideal) for the Winter and Spring banquets, but it poses a major problem for an all-state football banquet where the HSSR usually averages between 950 and 1,100 people. The HSSR would have to break up the football banquet into one session for the SCHSL honorees, and another session for the SCISA honorees. In our 36 years of sponsoring banquets, we have never been faced with a situation of dealing with a Pandemic; thankfully conditions are improving all the time, with the vaccine now available to everyone. This situation would mean having to pay two college speakers also to serve as keynote speakers.

Another sincere challenge is that with the Pandemic hurting many small businesses the HSSR does not have a reserve fund anymore to kick-in to help pay for banquets when they do not pay for themselves through guest ticket sales and booster clubs sponsoring reserved tables. For the first time, as the Publisher of the HSSR, I would like to explain in great detail, the expenses the HSSR incurs with banquets so you will fully understand the financial challenges confronting the publication at this time. If you would like to give your feedback, or share any ideas with the HSSR after reading this, please send us an e-mail at

One solution is that the HSSR finally needs to seek a few corporate sponsors solely to help defray banquet expenses. We have avoided this at banquets, for the most part, because we do not want to put business logos on student-athletes/honored coaches’ trophies and awards. We can hang company banners at the banquet, provide advertising recognition, in all of our 50,000 annual printed copies of the HSSR and even brand a company’s logo in the Mast Head of the HSSR companion web site at  In 2019, the last complete year for all varsity sports in SC, the web site received nearly one million home page hits. Perhaps some parents with all-state honorees are tied in to leadership positions at major companies around the state. This would be an ideal time to talk to the” boss” (or yourself) about your company supporting the HSSR all-state banquets, especially if they offer goods and services consumed by teenagers, or if they do business with schools in the state of South Carolina.

Here is an explanation of our banquet costs & why the HSSR has had to charge $50 for guest tickets in recent years in order just to break even (with slight losses) on sponsoring banquets. Here we go and please read carefully:

***A catered two-meat buffet with vegetables, dessert and tea cost the HSSR around $20 per person. We have always fed all honorees (students and coaches) for free and we plan to continue doing this with any future banquet(s).

***We pay speaking fees to all keynote college coaches. This can cost between $500 to $1,000 per speaker.

***Our awards are of high quality, and quality comes at a price. Each individual all-state award, including engraving, averages between $20 and $28 each. Most Players of the Year or Coaches of the Year awards average between $40 and $65 each. The HSSR Mr. Baseball award, which is six-foot tall, with real wooden bats, averages over $200!

***When the HSSR awards are shipped via one or two large cargo vans from Pennsylvania the shipping charges always fall between $600 and $1,000 depending on the size of the banquet. The HSSR pays cash on delivery.

***We need around 8 people to work 12-14 hours (Saturday & Sunday) inside the banquet Hall, the day before a banquet, helping to unload the van(s), unpack all the awards, help with the placing of name plates on all awards etc. Most of these staff members and volunteers return to work the banquet on Sunday. The expense for “set up” and organization of the vast awards table runs between $1,500 and $2,000 for most every banquet factoring in all 8 people’s valuable help.  

***Every honoree (student and coach) receives a keepsake comp tee shirt, noting the event and the keynote speaker on the front. HSSR Cost: $5 per shirt.

***The HSSR always prints a “Banquet Souvenir Publication” that is available for all the honorees and guests to take home. This issue is normally 64 to 72 pages and requires a graphics person to work 22 to 28 hours putting it together, and then we have to print it as well. Total production and print cost on the banquet issue alone is between $1,200 and $1,600 per banquet.

****The HSSR does you one or two of our marketing reps for limited marketing to the schools with each banquet and they are paid a 20 per cent commission on their sales which is another expense we have with banquets.   

****One additional expense that can not be measured as easily, is the time spent by me and my one full time Administrative Assistant, for three 50–70-hour work weeks, prior to a banquet being held. Over this period, we are mailing out honoree’s invitations, answering several hundred e-mails, several hundred phone calls with parents & schools ordering tickets, and answering varied questions about the event. During this three-week period the Publisher has little time to cover live sporting events out in the field, or visit sponsors when they come up for renewal in the HSSR once a year. So, with three major statewide banquets a year the HSSR Publisher is literally a part time employee of Seawells and the West Art awards company for around 9 weeks a year with 90 per cent of the banquet revenues raised paying the catering and the awards company.

So, let’s talk about cost analysis and revenues versus expenses and when you read this you will truly understand the need for corporate sponsors in order to maintain the HSSR high quality statewide all-state awards banquets.

+++++So, one honoree attends the banquet (always free) with one paid guest ($50). The HSSR is expensed right at $40 by Seawells to feed two people. If the honoree is an all-state honoree, they get an award and a comp tee shirt expensed between $25 and $33. When you factor in all the other real expenses (aforementioned) you can easily understand why the HSSR, or anyone trying to sponsor a first-class all-state awards banquet, would have difficulty paying for everything under this current revenue stream. Even when an honoree brings two paid guests ($100) the HSSR now pays out $60 for three meals, and when you factor in the cost of the award and the tee shirt, you have very little margin to break even, especially with all of your other associated costs putting on a banquet.  We are very thankful for schools like Dillon, Dorman, Lake View, Summerville, etc. who sponsor reserved tables ($500) for up to 10 guests at all of the HSSR banquets where they have three or more honorees.  These guest tickets are shared with parents of the honorees which is a nice gesture from certain schools and it allows many parents to be able to attend the banquet basically “free of charge” as well.

So, now that you have read the HSSR “Basic 101” Banquet expenses of putting on banquets I am going to ask you to walk a mile in the HSSR shoes and give us any suggestions for being able to put on three all-state banquets over a two-week period from mid-June to the end of June.

I truly feel like the HSSR is going to have to land one or two major corporate Banquet sponsors (by May, 15) who market products to teenagers. or schools, or just feel the need to help keep the great tradition of the HSSR banquets growing and going. Please let us know if your company might be able to take out a sponsorship for the banquets. They will be recognized in all 50,000 annual copies of the HSSR publication and on our website at   

Thanks for any advice and your comments are welcomed.

Sincerely—HSSR Founder & Publisher Billy G. Baker

Cell: 843-200-9555

E: mail






















Coach Earl Grant Addresses 725 Honorees and Guests At 31st Annual HSSR All-State Winter Banquet With Outstanding Enduring Life Lesson Comments

By Billy G. Baker


Columbia—The winter sports of basketball, wrestling and SCISA bowling drew 725 honorees and their guests to the 31st annual HSSR all-state awards banquet at Seawell’s on April, 29th with College of Charleston head basketball coach Earl Grant delivering a powerful and heart-felt 22 minute keynote address.

Coach Grant, working at his fourth school (WinthropClemson, & The Citadel) in the state of South Carolina, started out stating how humble it is for him to be working as a head basketball coach in the town where he was born and raised after graduating from Stall in 1996.

Coach Grant talked about the difference in individual accomplishment versus a team accomplishment. He explained how embarrassed he was to earn “Coach of the Year” honors due to the fact it takes a lot of people, and not just himself to earn such an individual award. He said after winning the individual coaching award he wanted to help his team win a conference championship so he could witness everyone taking part in the team accomplishment.

This past March the College of Charleston won their conference championship before 11,000 fans at the North Charleston Coliseum. “This team accomplishment involved everyone in our program helping to cut down the nets from my secretary to our non-paid student managers, so the team win was a more powerful moment,” said Coach Grant. “Before the championship game, earlier in the day, I went on a three mile jog through the very neighborhood I was raised in, and it was a very humbling experience for me.”

Coach Grant talked about growing up in a two bedroom home in North Charleston and how his father was a no-nonsense “make something of yourself through hard work” type of person. Coach Grant said the first morning after he returned home after graduation he slept in until 11:30 a.m. and his father got into his ear pretty quick. He told Coach Grant he had to be up and out looking for a job by 8:30 the next morning.

Grant, a psychology major, landed a job as a security guard at a local motel working from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the morning and then he moved up to a maintance job at a competing motel by the end of the summer where he said he unplugged toilets among other things. “I have my security uniform on and I am working in the neighborhood I grew up in so all my buddies are driving by looking at me and making fun of me being a college graduate, and now I am working as a security guard,” said Coach Grant.

By the end of first summer out of college Grant had saved $3,000 which allowed him to buy a new car and gave him reliable transportation to work weekend summer camps all over the region. His last camp (Dixie camp) was in Summit, Mississippi ran by Coach Sellers from LSU. This camp had been a 14 hour drive from Charleston. “On the way back home from working this last basketball camp I had convinced myself that I was going to join the Air Force and get out of North Charleston,” said Coach Grant. “When I got home my Dad said Coach Sellers had called and wanted to talk to me. Coach Sellers offered me a graduate assistant coaching job which I jumped on and I spent two years with him while I was working on my Master’s.

 Coach Grant said this situation highlighted the importance of how you conduct yourself in the public eye. “How you treat people, how you carry yourself and even your manners are important and you get noticed by others even when you don’t think they are looking at you,” said Coach Grant. “Do you have your shirt tail tucked in or are you wearing rings in your ear today? People are always looking at you forming their impressions of you.  You need to make good decisions and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Try to not make bad decisions that could destroy who you are as a person.

“It was unbelievable that Coach Sellers called me back and I went back and worked with him for two years. That right there was my first lesson on how you can get noticed just by treating people right and being a hard worker.”

Coach Grant talked about a good attitude and how a good outlook on life is critical to future success, particularly to teenage athletes. “Number two you have to have a strong work ethic. I have three sons and my 11 year old is in to video games and social media but we are paying someone to cut our grass because I am busy. I told my wife we might have made a mistake hiring someone to cut the grass and that our 11 year old needs to get in the yard and start helping out.

“The bottom line is that we have to work for what we want,” said Coach Grant. “There are no hand-outs in this life. You got to get up and give good effort everyday whether it is in the classroom or at your job. I tell my players everyday to fight for their GPA. I tell them to always be willing to give extra effort, to get away from their friends and go to library and study extra hard.”

    Coach Grant said having Faith is the third key component we all need in our lives.  “You must believe in yourself because you are going to have certain people tell you that you can’t do something,” said Coach Grant. “You can do all things but you have to believe in yourself first.  There will be failures, setbacks and letdowns in life. People may tell you to give in and give out on a certain goal, and they might try you to something different but if you have faith you can accomplish your goals.

“At 17 or 18 years old figure out what you want to do in your life and nobody can make you waiver,” said Coach Grant. “You have to believe in your plan and you have to pray about it and with a good work ethic your plan can come together.”

Near the end of his talk Coach Grant referred to Jesus Christ in making a very strong point. It was in the middle of this season for the Cougars and after having a good stretch run they lost a couple games in a row. “Some of our guys started doubting themselves and even their roles on the team so I told them a story about Jesus,” said Coach Grant. “I told my team how everyone started following Jesus because he was doing a lot of miraculous things like healing blind people so they could see, or healing the very sick back to perfect health.

“There was like 5,000 people in a field that started following Jesus for 10 to 15 days  and this large group of people were getting hungry and they needed water and food,” said Coach Grant. “Jesus looked over to one of his disciples and asked what they were going to do to help so many hungry people. One of his disciples said it was going to take a month to gather up enough food to feed such a crowd of people.

“Another disciple told Jesus that he knew a person among the crowd that had two fish and five loaves of bread and upon hearing that Jesus said that was enough to feed everyone,” said Coach Grant. “So told my team that we had enough to reach our goals for the season also. I told them that we were going to have to stretch our talent, to be content whether we had a little or a lot, and that if we all stretched what we had to give to the team that things could work out for us and that we could win a championship. I told them that if Jesus found a way to feed 5,000 people with the little bit of food he had that we could find a way to accomplish our goals for the season as well.

“A player asked me how do we stretch it, Coach? “You stretch it by having a better attitude, you stretch it with extra effort, and you stretch it by every member of this team doing their best when I ask you to do something or fulfill a certain role. You have to be mentally tough and it is amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.  

“So we are down 17 points in the second half of the championship game in front of 11,000 fans and I looked at one of our players and told him that we enough to turn the game around and we came back to win the game,” said Grant. “We stretched within the entire team to reach our goals.”

In summation, Coach Grant says to be true and strong to your goals, work hard, have Faith, and never waiver to anyone standing in your way. And now we know why Earl Grant has found success coaching basketball and we thank him for spending some time with us at the 2017-18 HSSR Winter banquet.

No doubt he will one day move up to head coach a team in the ACC or SEC. His message is grounded in all the right core principals of life. His message was a breath of fresh air to all in the room!


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