Of all the things written of Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a theme emerges: goal-oriented, disciplined, making it count. According to her three aunts, whether it was running track, coaching students, or spreading the Gospel, “Tookey,” as she was known in her extended family, came from a family of women that nourished a love of God and an intense drive to achieve her goals. An it showed; she was a single mother with three jobs she loved – coach, minister, and teacher – and working on her doctorate all simultaneously.
“Sharonda was everything any friend could want”Rita Widbee, longtime friend.
Hailing from Newark, NJ, Rev. Coleman-Singleton graduated from Vailsburg High School in 1987, her performance in track awarding her a scholarship to South Carolina State. She continued on to get a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from South Carolina State University, where she was an award-winning hurdler who sent her team to a conference championship. . She had been one of the runners at SC State who were called “the Goddamn Beauty Queens” by a coach who was bitter that they drew attention from the men’s teams. After college, Rev. Coleman-Singleton continued her studies at Montclair State University, obtaining a Master’s degree in speech language and pathology. She was working on her doctorate when she died.
“I saw her at work everyday and she always had a smile on her face. When I was doing duty she would walk by me with that awesome smile and never had a bad smile,”Goose Greek Gators baseball coach Chris Pond
Rev. Coleman-Singleton was serving as the head coach for the girls track team at Goose Creek High School, as well as serving as a speech pathologist and therapist since her 2008 move to Goose Creek after serving as a speech and language pathologist in schools in Georgia. She had gained a reputation as more than a coach – a mentor who advocated for the young women she coached.
Rev. Coleman-Singleton was introduced to Mother Emanuel by her ex-husband, Chris, but it was her relationship with the church that remained after her divorce. She preached in several pulpits on Sunday mornings. Her friends say that before she became a minister she had a close relationship with God, providing comfort in the most difficult of times. The older folks at Emanuel became extended family to her children. As a lay minister at Mother Emanuel, she worked with the youth and young adult ministries.
Her son Chris wrote in an instagram post;
“It’s funny how I always told you that you went to church too much. You would laugh it off and say, ‘Boy you can never have too much of the Lord.’ You were a better mother than I could have ever asked for.Son, Chris
She leaves behind her sons and daughter, Christopher, Caleb, and Camryn Singleton. Her son Chris, a former pro baseball player, currently travels in speaking engagements to spread his message of “Love is stronger than hate”, born in the aftermath of the tragedy, inspired by his mother’s legacy and drive, and continuing on today.