Bill Spiers has done many things through sports in his life, including playing baseball and football for Clemson University, playing in Major League Baseball for 13 years, and most recently coaching Calhoun Academy to a football state championship.
Now he is going to address one thing he left undone years ago. Spiers is returning to Clemson to take classes toward earning his unfinished college degree, while also accepting a coaching position on Dabo Swinney’s football staff.
Spiers has one of his two daughters (Ashley) already into her senior studies at Clemson, and his son (Will) is joining the Tigers football team as a punter (the position Bill played for Clemson) this fall.
So things worked out where Swinney kept reminding the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame member about the program to get former pro athletes studying to finish their degree. That nudging continued recently and the Spiers family (also including wife Laura and younger daughter Mary Crosby) decided it was time for Bill to do so.
“This is pretty humbling and I’m still pinching myself with excitement,” Spiers said. “As a family, we talked about it, thought about it and prayed about it a lot.
“It’s an opportunity that I should take advantage of. The seed got planted in a conversation I had with Dabo a couple years ago. He’s been reminding me of it quite often, so it would have been really hard to turn down at this point.”
Spiers originally was a pre-med student at Clemson before he realized that baseball and medical labs didn’t work well together for his schedule. He changed his major to marketing. At this point, he is having academic officials determine the best schedule for him to get back in classes to complete his degree.
Swinney has not determined the position Spiers will fill on his staff. But, according to Spiers, he won’t be working with his son and special teams, per his own request.
“Dabo just said, ‘be ready to work,’ and I told him I would be ready,” Spiers said. “It’s really kind of a calling from the Lord that I was looking forward to.
“The kind of people Dabo has in place and the culture that he has created at Clemson is really something special.”
Spiers realizes, however, that the coaching time he has spent at Calhoun Academy is also something special, something he has really enjoyed since retiring from pro baseball. He began helping out as an assistant coach for the Cavaliers boys basketball team in 2001 and was an assistant coach to longtime CA head coach Adam Jarecki for 13 seasons in football and baseball. He was the head coach for football and baseball for this school year.
“Here at CA, it is beyond my description how exciting this has been,” Spiers said. “Sports are in my blood, and seeing these kids mature and helping influence them has been great.
“It’s fun to see the whole school and the kids have success. There were tough times this past football season, some losses we probably shouldn’t have had; but it made us better.
“True character comes out in tough times, and the guys learned that. This is a great school and a great community. It has been a pleasure coaching here. Hopefully they learned something from me. I feel like the Lord puts us in places for a reason, and molding kids’ lives is an extra benefit.”
Spiers points out that there’s never really a good time for a coach to leave a program, realizing that if it’s on a winning note they want to return to do it again, and if it’s on a losing note they want to see if they can do better with the team the next season.
But leaving for an opportunity to finish a life goal and begin a new chapter in life helped Spiers make the decision.
“It’s always been the question of have I needed my degree,” Spiers said. “Well no, but my parents have always wanted me to get it.
“They are proud now and excited for me to get it. This is our home here, but this is worth a shot for me and my family.”
For the Spiers family, Clemson has long been a second home, of sorts.
Bill’s father, Bud, played baseball at Clemson, as did Bill’s brother, Michael. He has a nephew (Glenn Batson) who is an infielder on the Tigers baseball team, and Michael’s son, Carson, plans to join the Clemson baseball team for the 2016-17 school year.
“It’s a family tradition, so Clemson is like a second home for us,” Spiers said. “Cameron will always be our home, and I’m sure we will be back and forth.
“We’re not moving completely, just having faith in the Lord to lead us in this. I’m looking forward to being a part of a culture that I truly believe in. I feel like it’s an opportunity that I can’t pass up. You can say I could wait, but I’m not getting any younger and the opportunity might not be there later.”