On Thursday night, Chris Singleton, an outfielder for Charleston Southern University, stepped onto the baseball field and faced the cameras to address something unfathomable: The murder of his mother.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton — single mother of three, speech therapist, girls track coach, devoted member of her church — was one of nine people gunned down by 21-year-old Dylann Roof during bible study at the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Wednesday night.
One day later, 19-year-old Singleton demonstrated remarkable poise and compassion while surrounded by teammates and other members of the Charleston Southern community.
Singleton, flanked by his coaches, expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support he’s received, while adding, “It’s surreal right now. It’s surreal.”
His mother’s confidence in him is what Singleton said prompted him to stand in front of the media, recalling her ever-present smile on several occasions. “Love is always stronger than hate,” he said. “So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”
Watch the full media briefing here, courtesy of Charleston Southern University:
Coleman-Singleton, 45, was remembered fondly by the many people whose lives she’d touched.
“She was teaching them track: How to throw the discus, how to do shot, triple jump, those types of things,” said Jimmy Huskey, the principal of Goose Creek High School, where Coleman-Singleton worked. “But she taught these young ladies how to be better young ladies. This is something that can never be replaced.”
Students echoed that sentiment during a vigil at the school on Thursday, the Daily Beast reported. “She supported us. She always saw greatness in us no matter what,” said Kamryn Simmons, a junior and member of the track and field team. “She always had a smile on her face, even when she was yelling at us.”
— Charleston Southern (@CSUNIV) June 19, 2015
Prior to Thursday night’s media briefing, Charleston Southern baseball coaches spoke about Coleman-Singleton and what she meant to the team. “I’ll be honest, it’s hard to stand here and talk,” said head coach Stuart Lake. “She was that parent, I’ve tried to explain to people today, that every kid on the team knew her. She called them each by name. As I jokingly told Chris today, she was my umpire yeller. She stayed on them so well. She was just that lady, that mom, that parent that you wanted in your program.”
“My mom was something else when I was playing ball,” Singleton said with a smile.