STARKVILLE — Willie Gillespie wants to educate young people of the community about the sport of football. With the help of some of his friends, Gillespie is set to do that with Camp Complete on June 19-20 at Starkville High School.
I didn’t know Don Foster well. There were plenty of times in my first year as sports editor I saw Don at high school or college events. We never did get too chatty with each other, but we did say hello and then went about our jobs in our own ways. But now that Foster, who died Monday at his home in West Point, is gone, I will remember one event we covered more than any other.
Heritage Academy has a new face that lights up the night. The private, independent school in Columbus is putting the finishing touches on a $250,000 construction project that has added more than 3,000 square feet to the school’s gymnasium.
The easy part was the wait for Mississippi State junior first baseball Conner Powers. Now comes the decision. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Powers in the 11th round Wednesday in the Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball program wasn’t afraid about going after McDonald’s All-American Renardo Sidney as it appeared other schools were. Despite an on-going process concerning Sidney’s eligibility, Mississippi State officials believe signing him was the right thing to do and are confident he will be on the court in the near future. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury insists recruiting Sidney was in the best interest of the program and the player.
STARKVILLE — Emanuel Mayers invested the time in the fall. The hours training spent in September and October blended into more hours on the track in December and January. The goal was to build a base that could help him reach the highest level of Division I track and field. Mayers realized that goal May 29-30 at the Mideast Regional Championships, and today he plans to begin to build on that success.
Javier Esquivel and A.J. Foster want to build something. As veteran soccer players and coaches, Esquivel and Foster understand boys and girls can’t become world-class players with the snap of two fingers. But the new Columbus High School boys soccer coaches want players, parents, and fans to know they plan to put a process in place that will help the Falcons learn how to play the game and to develop into better players.
STARKVILLE — The love of Starkville led Matthew Rye through an open door at the Starkville Parks and Recreation department in 2005. After four years with the department, Rye gets the opportunity to lead. Rye assumed the position as parks and recreation director June 1 after Clark Roman retired.
Rachel Dees, Cheng Ye, and Rick Deaton combined to win 21 first places May 23-24 to lead the Mississippi Shockwave Aquatics team to the overall title at the Tunica Summer Invitational in Tunica. Dees, who competed in the girls 13- to 14-year-old age group, won eight events, while Ye won seven events in the boys 11-12 division and Deaton took six first in the boys 13-14 bracket.
The East Webster High School softball program didn’t have to look far to find a replacement for coach Bill Brand. Former East Webster High fast-pitch softball coach Dallas Ferguson and assistant football and fast-pitch softball coach Ken Williamson were recently named to replace Brand as the school’s slow-pitch and fast-pitch coaches.
The Southern Mississippi football program already has made an impression on Rickey Knox. Wednesday afternoon was an opportunity for Knox and more than 70 other football players from the region to get to know the Golden Eagles’ coaches and program even better. Coach Larry Fedora and members of his coaching staff worked out players from Lowndes County, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee for more than two hours Wednesday at Columbus High School.
Tyler Aldridge is on the road back to 100 percent. Even though arm problems prevented the Caledonia High School baseball standout from having an ideal senior season, Aldridge still was recognized as one of the area’s top players. On Saturday, Aldridge will take the field one more time as a high schooler when he and six other area players participate in the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star games at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Darian Donald knew he was soft. A season of getting tossed from side to side on the blocks can convince even the most talented basketball player he needs to make a change. So the former Caledonia High School standout went to work immediately following his freshman season with the East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball team. The work Donald did and the season he had as a sophomore transformed him into a different player.
Jake Reeves, Bobby Merryman, and Sarah Pevey can’t wait until July 10. The confidence the three athletes gained Friday at the Chaos in Columbus Mixed Martial Arts event at the Trotter Convention Center should serve each competitor well next month when they take the next steps in their amateur careers. Fighting for Relentless MMA, Reeves (2-0) earned a first-round submission victory against Lee Franklin, of Jackson. He used a rear-naked choke hold to end the fight in 58 seconds.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is excited about the future of pitcher Devin Jones. Jones, who played at Eupora High School in Webster County, is spending his summer fine-tuning his skills in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in Danbury, Conn.. He is one of 12 Mississippi State Bulldogs that has been assigned to a college summer league by Cohen and his staff. A broken hand kept Jones off the mound during much of the past season, but he started in the last two Southeastern Conference series against Ole Miss and LSU.
STARKVILLE -- One of the main points of emphasis at the Southeastern Conference Meetings in Destin, Fla., this past week pertained to football recruiting and the desire for a more even playing field for all 12 schools. The SEC presidents took an action that will move toward that goal. Beginning with next year’s signing class, SEC programs can only sign a total of 28 players. The coaches wanted the cap at 30, but the presidents got their way at 28.
STARKVILLE -- Ben Thebaud, of the Starkville Academy Dizzy Dean baseball team, uses his speed and athletic ability to his advantage. As a wide receiver and defensive back in football at Starkville Academy, Thebaud has been known to make something positive happen for the Volunteers. It was his play on the baseball field that helped Starkville Academy come from behind and defeat Starkville High School 13-10 in a four-inning second game of a Dizzy Dean High School doubleheader Monday night. The Volunteers earned a sweep by also beating the Yellow Jackets 10-4 in the opener.
Jeff Hunter doesn’t aspire to be a professional baseball coach. The former New Hope High School and Mississippi State pitcher also is hesitant to become a high school baseball coach. But Hunter’s love for the game couldn’t keep him away from the Cotton States Baseball League. On Tuesday, Hunter will take the field as coach for the Golden Triangle Jets when the team plays its first two games of the Cotton States Baseball League - North Division’s inaugural season.
Players aren’t the only ones who are tested in the spring and summer months. While parents have to shuttle their children to and from games, coaches are the ones who are on site hours before games preparing the field and hours after games cleaning up and getting things ready for the next day. Columbus High School baseball coach Jeff Cook and New Hope High assistant baseball coach Chris Ball are two area coaches who will play a variety of roles in the next few months on the diamond.
1. Pickle takes over as New Hope football coach HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU men hit unlucky 13 for second year in a row COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Close games have helped New Hope girls find focus HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Rally helps send Ole Miss' Henderson out a winner COLLEGE SPORTS