September 5, 2018 11:21:15 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
There are several qualities to admire in Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter.
One of my favorites is Shorter gives a great speech. Regardless of the subject, he thinks well on his feet and can put passion behind any words. Whether it is at a game Friday night or at a National Signing Day ceremony, Shorter speaks with conviction.
That is why any interaction with Shorter is a good one. He will tell it like it is and hardly ever leaves you with unanswered questions.
On Friday night, Noxubee County beat Shannon 34-12. The Tigers grinded, worked hard, and found a way to overcome some sloppy play to do what they almost always do at home: win.
This night was different. Noxubee County was playing for the first time since Shorter's dad, Charlie, died. Shorter always has prided himself in being a molder of young men. There is no question who molded him.
That's why the postgame question was simple
"Will you tell me about your dad?"
Shorter's eyes lit up. It was a topic he was happy to discuss.
"A special person. There is no one like him," Shorter said. "Every day he lived he was trying to make the people around him better. (My brother, my sister, and I) never had a want he couldn't fill. He was the motivator. He was the mentor. He was the guiding influence. Any day that wasn't going well became instantly better when you talked to him."
Charlie Shorter spent more than 30 years as a fire fighter in Port Gibson. A majority of Shorter's family is still in that area. Charlie Shorter was the biggest athletic supporter for Shorter and his two siblings.
"He believed in sports and the good things it can teach a young person," Shorter said. "From pee wee to middle school to junior high to high school and then college -- whether it was travel ball or high school ball, he was always there, always supportive. If there was something we needed to compete, he made it happen.
"The only rule was we had to apply ourselves. If he was going to commit to supporting us in something, we had to commit to working hard and excelling in that. It didn't matter what it was. If it was something small or something big, if we were emotionally invested, he was, too."
It's easy to see why Tyrone Shorter coaches after hearing about his father.
Shorter worked as an assistant coach under one of the state's biggest legends, M.C. Miller, when he started at Noxubee County. Shorter considers Miller an influence. Other coaches from the past also have influenced his coaching style. Charlie Shorter might have been the biggest influence.
After defeating Shannon, Shorter encouraged his players to stay out of trouble over the weekend. He told them they were representing the team in whatever they did. He asked his young men to find a house of worship and to be there Sunday.
It's a safe bet Charlie Shorter told Tyrone the same thing while he was growing up.
"What we do with these players, a lot of that comes from him," Shorter sad. "It is one thing to teach the Xs and Os. It's another thing to teach how to become men."
Shorter takes pride in the large number of college signees Noxubee County High has produced. There is little to do in Macon other than farm work and football. Still, Shorter and his assistants make sure grades are kept high and videos keep being distributed.
The emotional outpouring of players (present and former) after the game Friday was moving.
To Shorter, being a head football coach is a year-round job. This commitment isn't on people in Macon. It is a hard-working, rural community. They love football, but they also love church. They love living life the right way.
"The thing that stood out this past week was the love of the people in this community," Shorter said. "I can't tell you how many people reached out. To feel the love and support, that and your faith is what keep you going during your darkest hour. This hasn't been easy. The assistant coaches, the players, the community, they all had my back this week. It was a lot of love, and I will always remember that."
Scott Walters is a writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter