**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**
The Charleston Gamecock Club officially kicked into football mode on Friday with its annual fall kickoff party. In addition, there was a baseball twist as new baseball head coach Mark Kingston made the trip down to take part in the festivities.
Baseball assistant coach Stuart Lake took Kingston on his first ever trip to Charleston a few weeks ago, and Kingston was immediately impressed with the area.
“I can see why everyone loves this town,” Kingston told Spurs & Feathers.
The fall kickoff is the biggest event of the year for the Charleston Gamecock Club, and it never fails to be a tremendous occasion. Located on the Cotton Dock at beautiful Boone Hall Plantation, the scenery is hard to beat.
The support the club receives from everyone who attends the kickoff is important for its goal of supporting the Gamecock Club.
“We sell out weeks in advance for this,” President of the club Jen Skoy Krizan said. “It just shows that it doesn’t always matter what the Gamecocks’ record is, everyone just wants to get together and celebrate Gamecock athletics. It’s a huge fundraiser for us.”
There were food and drinks and live music by Moxie. In addition, Cocky and a couple of cheerleaders pumped up the crowd.
Kingston mingled with the crowd and took the podium to speak about the upcoming baseball season. Kingston is excited with what he has as a team, and explained his philosophy to the crowd. As he has stated in many public appearances, Kingston’s life centers around faith, family and baseball.
After speaking on his team, Kingston answered questions from those in attendance before signing more autographs and speaking with fans.
“Our fans love South Carolina,” Kingston said. “They love baseball, they love all of our sports. It’s great to meet all the people that make South Carolina so great.”
This time of year is an exciting one for the Gamecock Club as clubs all over the state hold fall kickoff parties. After a long summer with not much going on, it’s finally almost time for football, tennis, soccer and all of the other fall sports.
Assistant Director of the Gamecock Club Hayden Lipham enjoys traveling the state to see Gamecock fans show up everywhere.
“Every year we look forward to this event because we get to see how many Gamecocks there are in Charleston,” Lipham said. “It’s an absolute blast, and we’re so thankful for their support.”
With the football season coming up quickly, everyone in attendance was extremely excited to get things started. Someone who knows firsthand the excitement of running onto the field to “2001” was in attendance in Preston Thorne.
Promoting the #JustAChicken franchise, Thorne was excited to be back in the Lowcountry, where he played high school football at nearby Summerville.
“It’s great as a former player and alumni to see all these people,” Thorne said. “You normally don’t get to see a lot of people that supported you throughout your career. It’s been really, really cool.”
The football season kicks off on Sept. 2 with a matchup against N.C. State in Charlotte. South Carolina last played there just two seasons ago, and there was a lot of Garnet and Black in attendance. With quarterback Jake Bentley leading the Gamecocks, the anticipation for this particular season rises every day.
“I’m ready,” Krizan said. “I’ve got my tickets and I’ll be there. I think everyone is excited to see what we’ve got this year. Just ready to get it going.”