Phil Savitz reflects on Hall of Fame career

The storybook ending to a legendary head coaching career was not to be for Phil Savitz.
River Bluff”s quest to win a final state title for the Palmetto State’s winningest boys soccer head coach ended short of its goal. The Gators were defeated on penalty kicks by Stratford in the third round of the Class 5A playoffs in The Swamp on May 3.

While Stratford went on to lose to Fort Mill in the state final, ironically, on penalty kicks, Savitz closed out a Hall of Fame career in which he won 15 state titles – 14 at Irmo, where the weight room is named after him, and one at River Bluff in 2016.

As painful as the outcome was, Savitz did not let the painful finality of the moment diminish the joy and pride he took in coaching his Gator players.

“I had no regrets about how the season ended because our coaching staff and I were so proud of the preparation, effort and competitive spirit our players played with every minute of these three playoff games,” Savitz said. “We talked about us having 11 seniors this year, including me, and called ourselves the ‘Senior 11’, and I’m so proud of this group and could not have enjoyed coaching them any more than I did! We were of course disappointed for them but not disappointed in them in any way.”

For all the 824 career wins and numerous accolades obtained during a 45-year career, Savitz most cherished the ‘memories and relationships’ he was blessed to enjoy coaching at two schools and, of course, the love of his ‘family’.

“It is also all about family to me and my personal family, wife Jan, son Zack, daughter Erin, son-in-law Aaron and grandchildren Jordi and Addi, along with the Irmo and Gator soccer families have made this journey so special for me,” he said. “We are going to miss many things I am sure, but are also really looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.”
The next chapter of River Bluff boys’ soccer will be overseen by assistant coach Thad Miller. Savitz is confident his longtime assistant will maintain the high standards established since the school’s inception.

“The program is in great hands with our present coaching staff staying together under the direction of Thad Miller as the new head coach,” he said. “I have no worries about the direction of this program and look forward to transitioning from its head coach to its biggest fan and wish nothing but the best for them!”

All photos by