May 2, 2014 10:17:29 AM
Eddie Chapman enjoys having Moesha Brewer on the West Lowndes High School girls track and field team.
Whether it's breaking out in an impromptu dance move or saying something amusing to a teammate, Brewer keeps the Lady Panthers loose in practice and at meets.
But Brewer also knows when it is time to get down to business. Instead of using excuses like she doesn't have enough time or she isn't responsible enough to handle multiple jobs, Brewer is just one of 20 examples of the right way to define a student-athlete.
"I can do sports and academics and it doesn't slow me down," Brewer said. "I had to make sure my job doesn't get in the way of the things I do. My parents and coach Chapman keep me motivated."
Last month, Brewer and 19 of her West Lowndes High girls track and field teammates and members of the schools girls soccer team were recognized by the Mississippi High School Activities Association and received certificates of merit for their achievements in the classroom. Chapman, who coaches the girls track and field and the girls soccer teams, said the girls track and field team received the academic award from the MHSAA for the third-straight year. The team has had grade-point averages of 3.015, 3.31, and 3.36 in the past three years. He said the soccer team had a grade-point average of 3.56.
Brewer, who works part time at Hardee's in Columbus, will be one of four members of the West Lowndes High girls track and field team to compete Saturday at the South State meet at St. Andrew's High. Action at all of the North and South State meets Saturday kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Brewer competes in the discus and will try to finish in the top four to advance to the Class 1A state meet Monday, May 12, at Pearl High. She believes the girls track and field team accomplished something special in earning an academic award for three years in a row.
"Everybody put their minds to it that they can do it," Brewer said. "They weren't worried that sports would slow them down and were able to put their heads in the books. It is one, two, three (when asked how easy it is to get good grades and compete in sports). It is just that easy. There is nothing hard about it. It is not me convincing people (it is easy). You have to convince yourself. You need to be motivated."
Freshman ZaBajsia Price also takes great pride in being one of the team members to be recognized. She feels it will give her the confidence to know she can do anything that she sets her mind to do. She hopes to have that same mind-set Saturday when she competes in the hurdles at the state meet.
"It is going to be awesome (to compete at the South State meet)," Price said. "I made it. I am so proud of myself. There is a lot I had to do as a freshman. I think I am going to do great."
Price, Rosalind Ellis, Destiny King, Edmariah and Edleshia Sherrod own the distinction of being on both award-winning teams. This was the first year West Lowndes had a varsity girls and boys soccer team.
Chapman, who also is an assistant football coach and an assistant baseball coach at the school, doesn't think his girls have grasped the magnitude of their accomplishment. He said the track and field team only has two seniors, so many of the student-athletes already have developed time management skills and strong work ethics in the classroom and on the practice fields. The girls track team has one seventh-grader, four eighth-graders and five ninth-graders. He said the certificates are proof of their accomplishments.
"I don't think they realize the prestigiousness of what it means," Chapman said Thursday. "The soccer team doesn't know anything about it. The ones on the track team know about it because we have talked about it. ... We're pretty excited about it. It is all about these young kids. With us being such a small school, the more exposure they get, the more opportunities they're going to have to be recognized by other coaches who may just pick up a paper or see something on TV."
The West Lowndes girls are doing their best to make sure they get more exposure. Last season, the track and field team had 15 members and six reached the region meet and only one (Price) advanced to the state meet. This season, Chapman said the squad had 19 athletes. Eleven advanced from the district meet to the region meet. Four will compete Saturday
"As a coach, I am pretty happy because we are making progress," Chapman said. "Are we where we want to be? Probably not, but we are making progress. To me, the certificates the girls are getting is an accomplishment in itself. Some coaches may get upset when I say this, but to me that is more important than any state championship because it says they are doing the things they need to do to get to the next level. Doing those things will help them be the big-time they eventually will be."
Dominique Brooks, Iseeria Brooks, Kasha Brooks, Kasarah Burkhalter, Ellis, Kiasha Guy, Tyra Holliday, Ebonee Humphries, Destiny King, Jamia Miller, Shanettrie Phinizee, Price, Alisha Rice, Edleshia and Edmariah Sherrod, Kadejia Smith, Taneshia Thomas, Shynice Watt, and Kateria Wilburn were honored for being members of the girls track and field scholar-athlete team.
Roytishia Clemons, Ellis, Courtney Gillespie, Tatyana Harris, King, Price, Sacha Robinson, Edleshia and Edmariah Sherrod, Dominique Smart, Jazmine Tate, Kadaisha Tate, Tamyjia Tucker, and Tyla Wilburn were honored for being members of the girls soccer scholar-athlete team.
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.