STARKVILLE -- It wasn’t about football or basketball to Travis Outlaw, of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. It was about giving back to his hometown of Starkville. Teaching the game of football was the emphasis for Camp Complete on Friday and Saturday at Starkville High School, and Outlaw returned to his alma mater eager to meet some of his young fans. Even though Outlaw’s sport is basketball, he tries to never miss an opportunity to be visible in his hometown.
STARKVILLE –– The smiles were all the satisfaction that Camp Complete director Willie Gillespie needed. While teaching football was the primary purpose of the camp on Friday and Saturday at Starkville High School, Gillespie hopes the participants had a good time in the process. Gillespie, who played football at East Mississippi Community College and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga before spending three years with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucaneers, said the camp was all about making the children of the community feel special.
Tavaris Tate knows he wouldn’t be where he is today running track if it weren’t for the support of his father, Russell Tate. Being close to his father and family was the main reason he chose to sign a track scholarship with Mississippi State. For Mississippi State basketball player Jarvis Varnado, he also values the opinion of his father, West Point High School boys coach Winston Varnado.
Professional basketball dreams don’t have size requirements. If they did, Javon Randolph still would find a way to make an impression. The former men’s basketball standout at Savannah State did just that Saturday night at Columbus High School. Randolph scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Buford Majic defeat the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers 99-94 in a World Basketball Association Exposure League game.
Basketball continues to nag at Kendrick Fox and Jason Smith. Even after successful careers at the University of Mississippi, Fox, 25, and Smith, 31, aren’t ready to put their sneakers away for good. That’s why Fox and Smith are keeping their games alive with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Association Exposure League. Their objective is to make an impression on the basketball court so they can secure an opportunity to play professional basketball overseas or with another league in the United States.
Davis Lee and Nick Durrah are changing before their coaches eyes. This past season, Lee and Durrah played key roles for the New Hope High and Columbus High baseball teams, respectively. Those roles figure to be even bigger next year when Lee and Durrah dress out for their senior and junior baseball seasons, respectively. Lee and Durrah showed Thursday that the work they’re doing this month with their Dizzy Dean team is helping them prepare for their new roles.
Philip Tice was back on his home turf Thursday night. But the New Hope High School rising senior is showing more and more people that he is at home whenever and wherever there is a baseball diamond. Tice arrived home about 4 a.m. Thursday with the rest of his teammates who represented the state of Mississippi at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Academy had a winning fast-pitch softball season this past fall, but the players and coach Randy Haynes believe it could have been much better. As the Lady Volunteers prepare for this season by playing in the High School Summer League at the Starkville Sportsplex, they hope to learn the little things that will help them turn close losses into wins. Starkville Academy pitcher Lyndsey Haynes, daughter of the coach, knows a better start in games will go a long way to helping the team produce positive results.
STARKVILLE â€” The 30th annual George Evans Memorial Softball Tournament will be much about memories. Emphasis will be placed on those who have passed away recently and who has made an impact on the tournament through the years. The tournament, which will be June 26-27 at the Starkville Sportsplex, is named after the late George Evans, who was a member of the Deacon and Trustee Boards at Second Baptist in Starkville and was a leader in the city, county, and state.
STARKVILLE â€” The staff at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum want to make sure the memory of former Negro League baseball player and Starkville native James â€śCool Papaâ€ť Bell isnâ€™t forgotten. On the suggestion by The Greater Starkville Partnership, the museum has put together a lasting tribute to Bell.
Coming out of high school, Jay Johnson was good enough in the eyes of Lou Holtz to play football at Notre Dame. Johnson signed with Notre Dame after playing on back-to-back undefeated state championship teams at Starkville High School, and went on to letter as a receiver from 1997-2000. Nine years after donning the gold helmet of the Irish, Johnson again is good enough in the eyes of Holtz to represent Notre Dame on the football field.
Darryl Wilson isn’t as quick and can’t jump as high as he did 13 years ago. But the stroke that made him a three-time All-Southeastern Conference shooting guard at Mississippi State is still there. And, like most shooters, when you challenge him that stroke becomes red hot. Wilson, 35, is rekindling his scoring touch with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Exposure League.
STARKVILLE — The Pickens Academy Dizzy Dean baseball team, of Carrollton, Ala., looks at any opportunity to play this summer as a learning experience. The chance to come to Mississippi and play a Class 5A program like Starkville High School is an added bonus. Pickens Academy bounced back from a 5-3 opening-game loss to beat Starkville 10-3 in a six-inning second game to gain a doubleheader split.
Baseball players never stop growing. For Ben Fleming, Brent Hallmark, and Garrett Harris, there is no better place to learn more about the game they love than close to home. The three former New Hope High School standouts are teammates on the Golden Triangle Jets in the Cotton States Baseball North Division. The former Trojans have helped the Jets get off to a 2-3 start in the inaugural season for the four-team wood bat league.
STARKVILLE — Chase Taylor knows he can be better. If the past two months are any indication, Taylor could start hitting the scores he’s looking for any time now. On May 2, the New Hope High School golfer won the 14- to 15-year-old group at the Optimist Club tournament at the Mississippi State Golf Course. The victory earned him a chance to play today and Tuesday in the district tournament in Meridian. The winner will go to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play in the International tournament in July
STARKVILLE — Starkville sprinter Tavaris Tate is used to living in the fast lane. On the track, it takes Tate seconds to run the 400 meters or his leg of the 4x400 relay. Off the track, Tate’s preparation and travel schedule keeps him on the go. Since helping Starkville High School to its second consecutive state championship, Tate has participated in the Atlanta-DeKalb International Prep Classic in Atlanta, Ga., and the Sports Authority Great Southwest Classic at Albuquerque, N.M.
STARKVILLE — The Hamilton High School Dizzy Dean baseball team used an “Earnest” effort Thursday to get a victory at Starkville Academy. Dylan Earnest had seven strikeouts and two hits and Ethan Earnest added two hits to help the Lions defeat the Volunteers 10-5. The umpires stopped the second game of the doubleheader in the third inning when a bank of outfield lights wouldn’t come on. Baseball is a family affair at Hamilton with brothers Ethan and Austin Earnest and cousin Dylan Earnest.
Mark Hysaw knows what the older player in the Columbus High School baseball program can do. Hysaw has coached rising seniors Avery Ford, Tyji Hawkins, and Josh Tentoni as they have moved through their middle school years into the twilight of their high school careers. That’s why Hysaw is excited to see what those players can do in their final go-around with the Falcons. Ford and his teammates continued their strong showing Thursday night with 16-6 and 14-4 five-inning victories against Starkville in Dizzy Dean action at Sammy Fletcher Field in Columbus.
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.
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