For a guy who once scoffed at the thought of a career in education, Kevin Heise has flourished for nearly a quarter of a century as a coach and teacher at Brookland-Cayce High, his alma mater.
“I still remember the day I was asked to join a new Teacher Cadet program when I was a senior,” Heise said. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ I was all about finding a career that would make me a lot of money, and that wasn’t in education.”
Heise never has strayed far from home, garnering riches of a different sort.
Heise joined a select club in late March when his Class 3A second-ranked Bearcats blanked Camden 5-0. It was the 400th win of his career. B-C has added two wins since, setting Heise’s career record at 402-157-23. He shares sixth place on the all-time soccer win list in South Carolina and needs six more to take over the No. 5 spot.
Heise is second to Phil Savitz in the Midlands in coaching wins. Savitz, now in his first season at River Bluff after 33 years at Irmo, is the all-time state leader with 645 wins through April 3. Heise and Savitz are both members of the SCHSSCA Hall of Fame.
“I never dreamed things would turn out the way they have, but I sure love what I do,” Heise said. “I’ve been blessed to have had so many great kids, great assistant coaches and tremendous support from the Cayce-West Columbia community.”
The former Bearcats keeper has become a pillar of the soccer community in the Midlands and across the state. His Brookland-Cayce teams have claimed 12 region championships, two Lower State titles and advanced to the state semifinals six times. He is the coach at B-C as well as the school’s Director of Soccer. He also is the associate state chairman of the South Carolina High School Soccer Coaches association and the state representative for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Heise’s legacy also includes the roles he played in the establishment of the Congaree Rapid Soccer Association and the creation of the annual Palmetto Cup tournament that has become a nationally known spring-break event.
Heise was lured into coaching in 1990 as a freshman at the South Carolina by Charles Gee, his high school coach. Gee left teaching before the start of the 1990 season, but Heise stayed on as junior varsity coach under former Irmo and USC star Thad Miller.
Miller left the following season to coach at Chapin. Heise was asked to handle the varsity team with David Easley serving as faculty representative. Two years later, upon graduating from USC, Heise became a teacher and the head coach.
“The coaching was the reason I got the bug to go into education; I found I had a knack for it,” Heise said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get rich, but I took the advice I received from my grandfather, Karl. He always said that if you found a job that you liked, it would never feel like you are going to work every day.”