Irmo pair honored to play role in event their coach started

SPARTANBURG - Irmo High's Morgan Bridges was cold and "a little nervous" at Saturday morning's start of the Mike Moore Shrine Bowl Game Ball Run.

"I was afraid I was going to drop the ball or something," the senior cross country runner said a few minutes after she and fellow senior Sam Padula delivered the game ball, without a miscue, at the annual Shrine Bowl.

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The two were part of a team of 42 runners, each running and carrying the game ball roughly 1.5 miles on the 33.5 mile journey from Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville to Gibbs Stadium on the Wofford College campus near downtown Spartanburg.

This year's run honored Coach Moore, who passed away last fall.
  Moore was the longtime cross country and track coach at Irmo and is credited with starting the game ball run. The event marked its 30th anniversary on Saturday.

Normally, game ball run participants are chosen based on their performance at State, and though no Irmo runners placed high in that event, to honor Coach Moore, two seniors - Morgan and Sam - were selected to start the run and hand over the game ball at the finish.

Video: Athletes, coaches remember Mike Moore

"He was my coach for six years," Morgan said. "I was nervous about it at first, but once we got going I thought about how cool it was to be a part of something my coach started.
  It was an honor to be a part of that."

Moore was Sam's coach for a little over a year, but in even in that relatively short time, Moore left an impression.

"He was a very good motivator," Sam said. "Coach wouldn't praise you that often, but when you did something he liked, he would let you know about it."

Riverside High's Eric Cummings, who has overseen the run for the SCTCCCA for the past seven years, said the association was in the process of changing the event's name to honor Moore prior to its meetings this past summer.
  The announcement was to be made at the Coaches Classic last October, but was postponed when Moore became ill in the days leading up to that event.

An hour before the start of the run, the athletes and coaches toured the Shriners Hospital for Children, an event held each year. Cummings said the athletes see first-hand that "they are helping to make a difference," for the children at the hospital.