Coach Rance Hightower is a 2015 graduate of Maryville College. Hightower played on the offensive line for the Fighting Scots for all four of his years as a student and started in a total of 40 games. In July 2016, Maryville College athletics announced that Hightower would return to MC as a volunteer assistant coach to lead the running backs during the 2016 season.
Last season, Hightower was a coach at Berry College as a graduate assistant. He coached tight ends in the fall and running backs and tight ends in the spring. He decided to come back to his alma mater after talking to head coach Shaun Hayes in the spring.
Coach Hightower credited his stepfather as his inspiration to become a coach himself.
“He coached me since I was little and every coach I’ve been around has been like a father figure,” said Hightower.
“The people that I’m closest to are my coaches,” said Hightower. “I want to be what all those strong, dedicated men were. I want to be that to other people.”
Hightower knew that he wanted to get into coaching while he was still playing for the Scots. He got his first coaching job at Berry College because of connections made through playing Berry and being friendly with the coaches. Once his senior season was over, he started putting his name out there for open coaching positions. Berry College contacted him, and Hightower officially went from player to coach.
When asked about how the transition from player to coach is going, Hightower said that there would be “growing pains” with every new job.
However, Hightower did state that it was more comfortable for him to start the coaching job at MC over the one at Berry. This is because people already know him at MC, and he already knows them. Coach Hightower has a great relationship with all of his fellow coaches and players.
“There’s no better feeling than preparing someone to do something and them going out and doing all the things you asked,” said Hightower.
Hightower’s first tier boss is Offensive Coordinator Philip Bailey. There is a lot of trust between the two of them.
“I trust him with my life,” said Hightower of Coach Bailey.
This trust stems from Bailey being one of Hightower’s coaches while he was a player at MC.
Off of the field, Hightower is working towards a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Berry College. He is taking this semester off and plans to finish his remaining six credit hours in the spring of 2017.
The master’s program he is in goes along well with the Physical Education degree he earned at MC. While coaching at Berry College last season, Hightower used his degree from MC working at Anna K. Davie Elementary School in Rome, Georgia.
The Fighting Scots are glad to have Hightower on their staff.