The time is right for Brian Alexander. The 17-year coaching veteran didn’t know how Russell Brooks found his name, but he didn’t dismiss the opportunity that will keep him on the court through the summer. Alexander, a former assistant boys basketball coach for Sammy Smith at Columbus High, is the head coach of the World Basketball Association Exposure League’s Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers.
Chad Davis is excited about Columbus. As sales and marketing director for Ring Media Group, it’s Davis’ job to find new markets to showcase mixed martial arts, one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Davis believes he has found one in The Friendly City — and at just the right time.
Chris Sykes and Elmo Brown have plenty of basketball left. Now the 34-year-old former Aberdeen High School and Delta State standout has to convince someone he’s right. Sykes and Brown, 34, a former basketball player at Columbus High, are two of 10 players on the roster for the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers of the World Basketball Association Exposure League. They hope to use the league to showcase their talent and to land another job that will pay them to play professional basketball.
Jarvis Gunter was a teenager the first time he experienced Kids With Character. As a member of the Columbus High School boys basketball team, Gunter and his peers volunteered at the free camp and were charged with being a positive influence for the younger kids in the community.
Steve Hancock hopes the building process will continue this summer. In his first season as baseball coach at Heritage Academy, Hancock guided the Patriots to a trip to the Mississippi Private School Association AAA playoffs and a 10-16 finish. Although Heritage Academy lost to Hillcrest Christian in the first round, Hancock was pleased the program raised its competitiveness and its confidence.
STARKVILLE — Hunting used to be a way for Dawn Branton and Kristi Brown to find time to spend with their husbands. Now their time tracking turkeys, deer, and antelope has become so much more. Not only has hunting helped them build a strong friendship, but it also has helped the women achieve a special honor. Last month in the Sierra Madre mountains in Chihuahua, Mexico, Branton and Brown killed their final turkey to complete their World Slams.
With the support of her parents, Courtney Musgrove was able to open her own business. For three years, the 22-year-old, Mississippi University for Women student has operated the Full Out Tumble and Cheer gymnasium. The gym, which is in Columbus, provides students with opportunities to learn tumbling, cheerleading, and All-Star cheerleading, a competitive form of cheerleading.
The Heritage Academy Patriots went from nearly striking out completely to striking back before finally having their season come to an end Friday night. Heritage was held scoreless on two hits with nine strikeouts through four innings before battling back in a 4-3 loss to Hillcrest Christian in the Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA playoffs. The Patriots (10-16) finished with only three hits and 16 strikeouts and didn’t have an RBI hit, but had a chance to win when they scored a run and loaded the bases in their last at-bat.
PEARL –– Starkville High School boys track coach Cleveland Hudson never lost faith in his team’s chances to defend its Class 5A state championship despite consecutive second-place finishes in the division, region and North State meets. That’s because Hudson had Tavaris Tate on his side. Tate accomplished something that had never been done before in Class 5A by winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and then pulling the 4x400 relay team through to victory as Starkville scored 66 points to overcome second-place Meridian’s 60.
Christian Dale will get an opportunity this summer to watch some of Major League Baseball’s future stars. In the process, Dale also will get a chance to develop his skills so he might one day reach that level. Last month, the Lee Middle School eighth-grader attended an Under Armour Tryout Event at Zephyr Field in New Orleans. Dale did so well at the tryout that he earned an invitation to an Under Armour Baseball Factory Specialty Training Camp in Cape Cod, Mass.
Bob McCrory had reason to be both pleased and disappointed Tuesday as he made his season debut with the Baltimore Orioles. McCrory pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, but the team didn’t fare as well by suffering a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla. “The way I look at it, you have a job to do and that’s go out there and try to get outs,” McCrory said. “It’s disappointing we didn’t win, but I had a job to do to go out there and try to get outs. I’m happy I pitched well, but I was disappointed we didn’t win.”
Bob McCrory got an unexpected birthday present this weekend when he learned he will get another opportunity to pitch in the major leagues. The Baltimore Orioles recalled McCrory, 27, on Sunday, and he rejoined the team in Toronto on his birthday.
Even the most talented teams sometimes need a break. The Columbus Severstal Under-12 girls soccer team used two days of championship play and a little bit of good fortune this weekend to win a state title. Columbus defeated the Greenwood Revolution 2-0 in the semifinals and then beat a team from Hattiesburg 2-1 to take the Kohl’s Cup championship in Jackson. The U-12 age division featured 16 of the state’s top recreation soccer teams in an eight-on-eight tournament.
Mallory Byrd likes to move. To satisfy her daughter, Val Byrd signed Mallory up to participate in dance classes so she could learn ballet, tap, and jazz steps. She quickly discovered Mallory needed a certain kind of movement. “It wasn’t her thing,” Val Byrd said of the dance classes. It wasn’t difficult for the Byrds to find an alternative. Mallory’s love for watching Olympic gymnastics turned out to be the motivation to get involved in the high-speed, high-flying sport.
Jason Williams’ professional mixed martial arts career is off to a rousing start. The Columbus native knocked out Roy Davis 10 seconds into round one of their fight Thursday at the Gladiator Challenge at the Pauma Casino in Pauma Valley, Calif. Williams saw an opening for the knockout after Davis threw a left-handed punch. He said he was surprised Davis was going to try to stand with him and punch, and he countered with a left hand.
Throughout the year, the Special Olympics organizes events that motivate and provide hope to people with intellectual disabilities. The events give those athletes an opportunity to compete and to showcase their physical skills. Deanie Forbes, the director of Area 6 (Chickasaw, Monroe, Clay, Oktibbeha, Lowndes, and Webster counties) in Mississippi helps make all of these things possible. Forbes, who is a special education teacher, first got involved with the Special Olympics 20 years ago. She has been the Area 6 director for six years.
DeShuni Sanders is ready. Some would argue the New Hope High School senior could play for the East Mississippi Community College softball team today. New Hope High coach Tabitha Beard would have something to say about that, especially with the state fast-pitch playoffs expected to start Monday. Sanders took the final step toward beginning a career at EMCC on Friday when she signed a national letter of intent to join the school’s softball program.
STARKVILLE — Players don’t have problems transferring from one program to another. So while Colby Moore might have changed states moving from Pickens Academy (Ala.) to Starkville Academy, his baseball skills weren’t affected. It didn’t take long for the infielder/pitcher to make his impact on the Volunteers’ program.
SCOOBA — Junior Noel is looking for some immediate assistance to help him bring the East Mississippi Community College men’s soccer program out of the “doldrums.” The EMCC coach found two players Friday who will help him accomplish that goal. Caledonia High School’s Taylor Chisolm and Starkville High’s Eduardo Fumo signed national letter of intents to join a program that went 1-12-1 last season in Noel’s second year as coach.
1. West Virginia also enjoying fast start COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Smith enjoys banner season for MSU defense COLLEGE SPORTS
4. New Hope hopes to hammer its way past Pearl HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Noxubee County faces surprising foe Cleveland in the playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS