In his first eight seasons as coach of the East Mississippi Community College football program, there is little question Buddy Stephens has created a national image. The Lions have won three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national championships and made headlines on and off the field. Even still, the program has found new platitudes to explore.
Gracie Plant, Kat Sykes, and Haley Marie Fisackerly can't help but smile when asked about the changes Tom Velek has brought to the Heritage Academy girls soccer program. Whether it's the amount of running, the skill work, or the changing practice plans, there have been plenty of adjustments the players have had to make for their new coach.
STARKVILLE -- As John Cohen looked at the reporters gathered June 11, he knew his Mississippi State baseball team was about to undergo a major overhaul. Cohen had just watched his team suffer a loss to Arizona in the Starkville Super Regional that ended one of the most historic seasons in school history. The Bulldogs, who won the Southeastern Conference championship for the first time since 1989 and went 44-18-1. MSU also had a school-record 11 players taken in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft.
Cass Tapley never really was "away" from the Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball team. As the father of two girls who played softball at the school and with a son who was a multi-sport standout completing his high school career in 2016, Tapley always seemed to be at an event supporting the Eagles, whether it was as a parent, as a fan, as a photographer, or as an assistant coach.
WEST POINT -- Mitch Bohon appears to be in an ideal situation entering his second season as the Oak Hill Academy fast-pitch softball coach.
MACON -- The T-shirts have a two-part message: "DON'T QUIT. DO IT."
STARKVILLE -- Music is a great way to bring people together.
McKenzie Bumgarner has grown up with the Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball program.
Although Wayne Madkin had not seen C.J. Sirmones in several years, the news he heard Wednesday was hard for him to handle.
Adam Frazier will always remember June 23, 2016.
For the East Mississippi Community College football team, the challenges will come early and often this season.
Teams are now gathering for photo shoots.
All Jacquez Horsley wants is a chance. After suffering a series of injuries at Starkville High School, Horsley has waited patiently for that breakout season and, more importantly, a season of good health. With a senior college future to plan, Horsley feels the time is right for that breakout season. It could start Sept. 1 when East Mississippi Community College takes on Jones Junior College.
STARKVILLE -- Willie Gay walked off the football field slowly after a intense conditioning session Monday night. It wasn't the first time he had worked out or ran this summer. He has been hitting the weight room with enthusiasm and running to prepare himself for the grind of his final high school football season in the state of Mississippi.
When the Noxubee County High School football team played in the 2014 New Hope Jamboree, coach Tyrone Shorter challenged his team to make sure its preseason game and last game were played in the same venue. For the sixth time in seven seasons, Mississippi State will play host to the event, which showcases several area teams in their first live action of the season. In 2014, Noxubee County played in the jamboree. Four months later, it returned to MSU to win the first of back-to-back Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A State championships.
Thomas Stevens has a new appreciation of the word "busy." Following a standout junior season for the New Hope High School baseball team, Stevens set out to raise his profile in hopes of attracting an offer to play baseball in college. Despite hitting a team-best .381 and smacking seven home runs, Stevens entered the offseason without any college offers.
STARKVILLE -- Former Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct Saturday morning, according to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office.
"If you build it, they will come." The famous line from the movie "Field of Dreams" can describe the 602 Late Model division at Magnolia Motor Speedway, only in reverse; drivers hope if they show up consistently, the track will add the division on a full-time basis.
STARKVILLE -- Alicia Mardis refuses to take the blame. After all, she was merely playing basketball as an eighth-grader at Coconut Creek High School in Florida when she noticed her sister, Jacaira Allen, watching her. She didn't realize she was making an impression on a younger sister whose only athletic claim to fame to that point was playing football in the street with the local boys.
OXFORD -- Erika Sisk usually is too quick to take a hip check in practice. Whether it's the Ole Miss senior's track and field background or the boundless energy she brings to the basketball court, Sisk can zig and zap and push tempo with the best guards in the Southeastern Conference.
1. Netflix series will shine on EMCC COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Heritage Academy set to put lessons learned to use HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Cohen optimistic following offseason filled with turnover COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Tapley optimistic about Hebron Christian's potential HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS