Walt Simmons has plenty of stories to tell. Whether it has been at Oak Hill Academy in West Point or at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Ala., Simmons has left his mark as a standout athlete. He also has learned more than his share of valuable lessons from peers who were more talented and more experienced. Now working as a career coach at Gadsden State Community College, Simmons' job is to help high school and college students figure out what direction they want to take their lives and the best way to realize their goals.
Two former West Lowndes High School student-athletes will depart next month for new college homes. On Tuesday, recent West Lowndes graduate Demetrius Malone signed a scholarship to play baseball and basketball at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale. Malone won't be the Panthers' only former multi-sport athlete to take his skills to junior college in August.
Bubba Davis and Aaron Lee are excited to be part of the Immanuel Center for Christian Education's growth. For Davis, it's only natural he will work in his role on the football field. The former football coach at West Point and Columbus high schools recently finalized plans to work as an assistant coach to Shawn Gates on the ICCE football team. Davis already has begun work with Gates and assistant coach Daniel Merchant and Lee, who also will work as an assistant football coach, girls track and field coach, and a Spanish teacher at the school.
STARKVILLE -- A move here. A move there. Let's see if that works. For much of Jessica Dickens' time as head coach of Starkville Academy softball, that has been the order of readying the team for the 2010 season. The former Leake Academy standout spent two seasons as an assistant on Randy Haynes' staff and took over in the spring following his swan song in 2009.
The West Lowndes Amateur Athletic Union basketball program hopes it can finish the season as quickly as it started it. Coming off a 15-0 start, the West Lowndes' 17-and-under boys basketball team will join its other boys and girls age group teams at The King of Kings Summer Closeout, which begins this weekend in Memphis, Tenn.
Rusty Greene has always enjoyed dabbling in the graphic arts. When he attended Mississippi University for Women, he thought that area of study would be something he would do professionally for the rest of his life. But Greene changed his mind just about when he was ready to receive his degree and decided to go back to school to become a teacher and a coach.
Brittany Tillery was shocked when she found out she'd made the Gulf South Conference All-Decade softball team. No one else was surprised.
The University of Mississippi has the papers. Is Houston Nutt thinking clearly enough to say no? That question could be answered very soon, as the Ole Miss football coach decides what to do about former University of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
MACON -- The names might be different, but the approach will stay the same. That's the message Sammy Lindsey and the rest of the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team want opponents to know this season.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State's track and field programs are in trusted hands after the university announced Monday the promotions of veteran coach Al Schmidt and longtime assistant and alumnus Steve Dudley. After 22 seasons leading MSU's track teams, Schmidt will now work as director of track and field. He will oversee day-to-day operations at Spencer Stadium/Maddox Track and continue to recruit.
CLEVELAND -- Swim Columbus' Corey Persons, Aaron Meek, and Ladd Chain and Shockwave's Hannah Wilson, Robert Fisher, Matt Williams, and Rachel Dees posted first-place finishes Sunday on the final day of the Long Course State Championships at Delta State University. Persons won the 13- to 14-year-old boys 100-meter backstroke in a time of 1 minute, 5.88 seconds. He also finished fifth in the 50 free (28.22). Meek won the 11-12 boys 50 back with a time of 36.08, while Chain won the 11-12 boys 50 freestyle (28.02) and the 11-12 boys 100 butterfly (1:12.05).
Hours of summer workouts, 7-on-7 games and time spent at college camps culminate today with the start of practice for area high school football teams. For the coverage area's two largest high schools, Columbus and Starkville, today's two-a-days mark the start of new coaching regimes. Jamie Mitchell had the spring to acclimate to his players at Starkville, while his Class 6A counterpart, Tony Stanford, made the transition of Bubba Davis' sudden retirement easier by being promoted from defensive coordinator to the top job on July 2.
HAMILTON -- Leaders do it all. Dylan Earnest and Katie Beth Dahlem epitomized that concept this season for the Hamilton High School baseball and fast-pitch softball teams.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Expectations did their best to crush the University of Mississippi football team's season in 2009. Imagine coach Houston Nutt's horror last year when he was asked if his team could have a successful season if it didn't go to Atlanta, the site of the Southeastern Conference Championship game.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Chris Relf doesn't say much, and he's fine with it. Admittedly laid back and mellow, the Mississippi State quarterback is a beast when he tucks the ball to run. But even as he's dragging defensive backs for extra yards, there's never a sense he is overzealous or gets caught up in the moment. Quiet confidence exudes as Relf enters his junior season looking to cement his place as MSU's No. 1 quarterback.
HOOVER, Ala. -- Confidence. It's a trait Dan Mullen knew would come with success when he entered his first season as Mississippi State football coach. On Wednesday at Southeastern Conference Media Days, Mullen and the three Bulldogs who accompanied him to the annual event couldn't stop using the term, especially when describing the difference between last season and now.
HOOVER, Ala. -- It's all about the swagger for Nick Saban and Dan Mullen. The methods used at the University of Alabama and at Mississippi State to instill that mind-set are as different as the coaches who lead the young men.
There's always something at the Southeastern Conference Media Days. Whether it's the aura of Tim Tebow -- and the awkward question about his virginity -- or former University of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer getting served a subpoena in a libel suit, the event is an extravaganza of like no other.
Let the hype begin. The recruiting season is nice, as are spring games. But college football officially gears up Wednesday when the Southeastern Conference holds its annual football media days.
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