COLUMBIA, SC - The nine victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston on June 17 are being remembered by the South Carolina Gamecocks throughout the 2015 football season. A specially designed sticker will adorn the South Carolina football helmets this year beginning with the season opener on Thursday against North Carolina.
"Whether it's Greenville, Columbia, Charleston or any other cities in South Carolina, we feel a tremendous sense of pride in this state," Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. "The tragedy that happened in Charleston doesn't just affect people in Charleston; it affects the entire state. We feel very much a part of that at the university. Coach Steve Spurrier and University President Harris Pastides felt very strongly that the 'Emanuel 9' should be recognized."
The original logo was designed by artist Gil Shuler of Mount Pleasant. The version for the helmet is garnet and depicts the Palmetto tree shaped by nine flying doves to represent each of the victims - Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson.
"The day after the tragedy, I just felt like I wanted to do something to make me feel better anyway," Shuler said of the original design. "I came up with something and posted it on my blog. From there it sort of took off. My family goes back multiple generations in South Carolina, and I've run my business for 30 years in Charleston. I know tons of people here. When that tragedy happened, it just hurt the whole community - me, included."
Tanner added that there was a tremendous amount of conversation within the athletics department staff about an appropriate way to honor those who lost their lives, and Coach Spurrier played a big part in that conversation.
"Coach Spurrier was very engaged in this process," Tanner said. "Football coaches are usually focused on just getting ready for their season, and he very much is too, but he took the time to be engaged with what we were going to do. He is excited that we are going to do the helmet sticker."
Shuler created this version and the original version of the logo without any intent for financial gain, and South Carolina will not be making the sticker available for sale. For any businesses that have asked permission and used his copyrighted logo, Shuler requested that all proceeds go back to the Emanuel Church in Charleston.