When the Gamecocks are rounding third, sometimes T Kingston is heading for home. Mom of three and wife of University of South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston, T (short for Letitia) has logged plenty of windshield time over the years driving kids back and forth from volleyball tournaments and everything else her busy family finds itself doing.
“We take care of business on the homefront,” T says of herself and the other baseball coaches’ wives. The long grind of the college season — four months of four and five games per week, with road trips stretching from Charleston to Charlotte to Columbia, Missouri — poses a challenge for Mark and his colleagues to make it to some of the typical events on a family calendar. Instead, the wives cover all the bases at home, allowing the guys to focus on their second family at the ballpark.
Mark says keeping baseball life separate from family life is easier said than done. He says he’s blessed with the support he receives from T and his children. “As coaches, you better have great wives,” Mark says, “wives who understand why you’re always away, why you come home stressed out sometimes. I’m sure I speak for all the coaches in that we have great wives and great families.”
Mark and three of his assistants are married, with children ranging in age from adults to a baby. The families are spread around the Midlands and even the state. The wives all share a common bond through their spouses that goes beyond the uniform.
“We stick together because we understand what’s going on, and you can’t really explain it to anyone else unless they’ve been there,” T says. She shares that Emily Beamer, wife of head football coach Shane, has become a friend and walking partner. “It’s kind of like a fraternity. You can’t just explain it to your neighbor and expect them to understand the life. It’s that coach’s wife thing that people can’t understand unless they’ve lived it.”
T was in Columbus, Georgia, studying to become a physical therapist when she met Mark, who was a minor league baseball hopeful. Good fortune brought them together again in Florida when T was working as an athletic trainer and Mark was playing for the Orlando Cubs. Then the two were at Purdue University, where T was a trainer and Mark began his coaching career.
They have been married 25 years and are parents to children ages 21, 19, and 15. Kailyn, their oldest, has channeled her love of barrel racing into a major in agricultural equine science at Clemson University. The two volleyballers are CJ, who now plays for Roanoke College, and Kathryn, a student at Cardinal Newman. The trio, all born in New Orleans when Mark was on the staff at Tulane University, has changed addresses multiple times since then.
“We’ve had some really tough conversations with the kids about relocating for the jobs Mark has earned,” T says. “But they’re resilient and very well adjusted.”
Moving isn’t just a challenge for the kids. Angi Parker was comfortably ensconced living and working in her native Ohio, married to Justin, the pitching coach at Wright State University, whom she had met when they were students there. Then came the chance for Justin to join the staff at the University of Central Florida.
“The first move was the hardest because I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. Add to that the fact that college coaching has no such thing as two weeks’ notice. “He moved down and started working immediately, so I handled all the logistics. It made me become really independent.”
Married eight years, Angi says she’s enjoyed seeing Justin’s growth as a coach from job to job. When the Parkers arrived at USC for the 2022 season, she was able to lean on T and Heather Current, wife of Mike, the Gamecocks’ director of player development, as well as Tish Anderson, wife of Billy, the athletic department’s director of sports performance and baseball strength coach.
“It’s nice to have a group of people who know what you’re going through,” Angi says. “They know the city. They know the area. I’m so grateful for the group we have. We all get along really well.”
That greater Gamecocks baseball family welcomed a new addition to the Parkers when Cameron was born in December. “We couldn’t have planned it any better,” Angi says. “Justin already had time off. It gave us a fair amount of time before the season started to get used to being parents.”
T remembers being at the hospital with Mark shortly after the Currents had their first child. Evie is now in third grade at Midway Elementary School in Lexington, where mom Heather teaches fourth grade. Heather and Mike met in high school. “We went to different high schools,” she says. “He was friends with some of my guy friends who played baseball.”
They dated through high school and college and have been married 15 years. Their second child, Cooper, is 3. Mark and Mike have worked together through stints at Illinois State University, the University of South Florida, and with the Gamecocks.
“Their relationship has actually opened a lot of doors, and I’ve met a lot of great people,” Heather says. “I make sure everything is running smoothly at home. With the traveling, he has enough stress in his job. He doesn’t need to be stressed about what’s going on at home. But Mike is great when he is at home with us. He’s always present when he’s here.”
Eryn Lee is still living and working in Seneca as husband Monte spends his first season on Mark’s staff as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. She knows well the stresses of being a college coach. She met Monte at the College of Charleston when he was head baseball coach and she was leading the dance team. “Most collegiate dance teams are not involved with baseball,” she says. “I never had any interaction with him other than seeing him at meetings.”
The two were brought together socially by Tony Ciuffo, a longtime College of Charleston athletics administrator. They were married a year later, in 2011. “He was divorced and I was divorced, and it was kind of a random thing,” Eryn says of Monte. “Tony casually played matchmaker without playing matchmaker.”
After long hours of practice or games with the guys, Monte comes home to Eryn and four daughters. Eryn says they kid him about spending the other part of the day surrounded by testosterone. “I think it’s a nice difference,” Eryn says. Madie works in the hospitality industry, Shelby and Blaire are recent Clemson graduates, and Alexa is a student at Tri-County Technical College. “Our house is very drama-free.”
That’s good, because Eryn’s plate is as full as Monte’s. She coaches the Rally Cats dance team at Clemson, where Monte was head baseball coach from 2016 - 2022. She also owns a dance studio that serves approximately 200 children and works as an executive with Johnson & Johnson.
“He’s very respectful of my drive and ambition, and he always puts 110 percent into everything he does,” Eryn says. She adds that since college dance teams typically don’t travel to away sporting events, she’s usually been able to work around Monte’s baseball schedule.
A Utah native, Eryn says she’s looking forward to getting down to the Midlands more often, which is a part of the state she hasn’t really explored. She’s also excited to experience the home field advantage at USC, where Monte worked as an assistant from 2003 - 2008 before becoming head coach at CofC.
“I’m really excited to interact with the fans — black has always been my favorite color,” she says. “We’re really grateful; he’s loving it, and I love watching him. The fans have been very receptive and supportive. Change can be hard, but I don’t think this one was very hard for him.”
T says when the wives can’t all get together at the ballpark due to various responsibilities, technology keeps them connected. A group text ensures everyone is in the loop, even during games.
“I feel like I’m a lot closer to them because of all the communication,” she says. “Everyone knows that we are all here for one another. You don’t have to ask twice.”
Behind the sisterhood stands the neighborhood. Heather says she has some great friends in her Lexington community. Eryn says she’s more likely to greet a parent of one of her dance students at the grocery store than encounter a baseball fan wanting to debate last night’s call to the bullpen.
“We live right downtown in Heathwood, and we have neighbors who are 100 percent supportive,” T says. “I walk three dogs, and I know most of my neighbors — even our Clemson neighbors are nice.”
Neighbors might also see a Gamecock player or two coming and going. T says her door is always open, and various gatherings are held at coaches’ homes. Pitcher Will Sanders jokes that Gamecocks catchers have been invited to the Parker abode for dinner, and now he’s waiting for his invitation. Angi says it’s important for coaches and players to find common interests beyond baseball.
“I think it’s good for the parents, too, to know that their sons are being taken care of as young men and not just baseball players,” she says. “Just seeing the impact Justin can have in their lives and watching them grow … things like Justin getting invited to a player’s wedding. Not everyone can do it, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s very rewarding.”