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Walters column: Celebrating six years with The Dispatch

 

Scott Walters

 

 

As this newspaper hits your yard or perhaps is pulled from a rack, it's time to celebrate another milestone. 

 

Your faithful scribe (a label used by my longtime friend and former newspaper co-worker Shawn Wansley) is celebrating six years today with the Commercial Dispatch. 

 

This newspaper career has touched parts of four decades, included seven ownership groups, dozens of publishers and even more managing editors. From Tunica to Vicksburg or perhaps from Macon to Biloxi, the state has been traveled to bring you the reader some of the fascinating stories going on around our state. 

 

While six years does not seem like a lot of time, it really has been a remarkable run. 

 

Coach John Cohen showed Mississippi State baseball fans a national championship was possible. Few will ever forget the 2013 College World Series baseball run. It is all about winning the right games. The Bulldogs strung together three straight at the right time to reach the national championship series. UCLA made quick work of MSU. However, the Bulldogs finished second in the nation - a height dreamed by some but not realistic in the minds of so many. 

 

Even more remarkable than the 2013 College World Series run would be what Vic Schaefer and the MSU women's basketball team did this past season. Mind you, they went from Lady Bulldogs to just Bulldogs during this time period, too. 

 

MSU played South Carolina for the national championship in women's basketball. To reach the title game, the Bulldogs pulled off arguably the biggest upset in the sport's history - an upset of Connecticut in overtime in the semifinal round. Morgan William's game-winner will rank as one the school's all-time sports moment for decades to come. 

 

Oh yeah, while we are at it. MSU had a young man named Dak Prescott play quarterback during this time. He wound up carrying the MSU football team to a five-week stay at No. 1 in the nation in 2014. We are not talking No. 1 in Mississippi or No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference. Instead, we are talking No. 1 in the nation ahead of Alabama, Oklahoma and about 100 other schools. 

 

Prescott showed MSU fans its okay to "don't stop believing." 

 

Many older fans probably never thought MSU would win a national championship in any team sport. In the past six year, the Bulldogs have shown their diversity. They have given their fans a reason to believe one day you might just finish on top. 

 

The past six years also saw something rather incredible take place in Scooba. East Mississippi Community College had never won a playoff game before Buddy Stephens arrived. In the past six seasons, EMCC not only had to build a trophy case but it has stocked it with three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national championships. 

 

If a betting man had placed odds on which in-state junior college team would became a national power, well let's just say EMCC would have been in the bottom-third of choices. 

 

The Lions win small games. They win big games. They win division games. They win state playoff games. They will bowl games. They win national championship games. 

 

Netflix documented each of the last two seasons in Scooba with its award-winning series "Last Chance U." 

 

That's not bad for a program which used to dance wildly in the streets for 5-5 seasons. 

 

Any daily newspaper will always find passion for its area high school teams. 

 

There is nothing like a Friday night at Hamblin Stadium when coach Chris Chambless and the West Point Green Wave are playing well. 

 

If you want to know who we will be writing about the next six years, it's a good bet a lot of ink will be devoted to Chris Jones and the Starkville football program. 

 

Speaking of, the best football game ever covered by your faithful scribe was the 2012 Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A North State championship game. Starkville won 29-28 in overtime. 

 

Only to be so lucky to ever see another football game quite like that one. 

 

In basketball, there is no finer coach on any level than Starkville High School boys' basketball coach Greg Carter. To borrow the old phrase, "he can take his and beat yours but he also can take yours and beat his." Nobody is better at in-game strategy. No other team is going to work any harder either. If you could mark the level of talent for a team, Carter's teams will always go above. 

 

As for the next six years, we are still waiting on Starkville girls' coach Kristie Williams to win a championship. Kristie, you are on the clock. 

 

New Hope baseball is as advertised. You want to see what tradition can do for a school and a program? Come to a game at Trojan Field. 

 

Six years of phone calls to Jason Crowder. Six years of adding up stats in the back of vehicles aided only by a light on the back of a cell phone. Six years of blowing a horn at Humphrey Coliseum. Six years of replying to emails in a less timely fashion than most would prefer. Six years of basketball tournament food lounges. Six years of thanking players for their time, even after a heart-breaking defeat. 

 

Lots of words, quotes, headlines, photos. Some better than others. 

 

It has been fun being your faithful scribe. Here is to another six years, maybe more. 

 

Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at swalters@cdispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott. 

 

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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