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.
It's difficult to fathom the lengths a team has to go to win a championship when it has to compete against 343 others from across the country.
But Eric Dubose, Joe Caruso, Thomas Wilson, and their East Coast Sox Diamond 16-and-under baseball team didn't focus on the enormity of the challenge they faced earlier this month.
STARKVILLE -- Aaron Gordon already has started to take stock of his stuff.
From books, to furniture, to paperwork, to mementos, Gordon has accumulated plenty of things since he was hired as Mississippi State women's soccer coach on Nov. 27, 2012.
If the start of the 2016 season didn't provide enough reasons to be excited, Gordon is anxiously awaiting another announcement: the date he and his team will move into their new home.
Todd Griffin doesn't recall how he came to be the baseball coach at Hebron Christian.
Travis Garner was shocked when he returned to the state of Mississippi in 2013.
OXFORD -- Together. Toughness. Forty minutes.
Danny Crawford appreciates the opportunity he had to work at West Lowndes High School for the 2015-16 school year.
In one of the school's most successful seasons, Crawford led the boys basketball team to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State title game and the girls basketball team to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Tom Velek has faced plenty of challenges in 12 years of coaching soccer in the state of Mississippi.
Velek's decision last month to accept the job as girls soccer coach at Heritage Academy created an opportunity to face a new challenge: coaching the game in the summer heat of Mississippi.
Alfrico "Chico" Potts can finally sleep a little better.
STARKVILLE -- Ameshya Williams would like to forget the events of March 11, 2016.
As a senior, Williams hoped that Friday night would be special. After all of the points, rebounds, and blocked shots earlier in the season, Williams was one victory away from leading the Gulfport West Harrison girls basketball team to a state title.
But all it took was one layup attempt to derail all of that hard work.
The 5-inch by 7-inch picture says a lot about Jason Trufant.
You might miss the black-and-white canvas on first glance around the otherwise spartan office tucked away behind a corner on the first floor of the Cromwell Communications Center. Trufant has been at Mississippi University for Women only a month, so he hasn't had a lot of time to plaster the back brick wall with pictures or to pack the bookcase along the right wall with books. On Tuesday, the shelves of that bookcase were armed with NCAA manuals and had plenty of room for additions, as did a back area, where a Carolina blue MUW T-shirt from the school's tobacco-free campaign sat folded on a bureau as if left over from a previous occupant.
Jason Trufant has had plenty of opportunities to do a wide variety of things in his athletic career.
From player to coach to administrator, Trufant has seen the inner workings of teams, programs and athletic departments from numerous perspectives.
Matt Sykes is a man of faith.
A year ago, faced with an uncertain future in soccer, Sykes contemplated his options and listened to God. After a lot of prayer and patience, Sykes said God told him to go William Carey University in Hattiesburg to play soccer.
Earlier this year, Sykes faced more uncertainty and was called to return home to Columbus. Although he wasn't sure why God wanted him to leave William Carey and end his soccer career, he believed something would work out.
Icon. Pioneer. Trailblazer. Legend.
It doesn't matter which word you use because all of them fit Pat Summitt, the longtime Tennessee women's basketball coach.
Known for her steely gaze and intensity, Summitt died Tuesday at the age of 64.
Gym rats come in all shapes and sizes.
Usually the student-athletes you find toiling away long after their teammates have went home are a step slower or a few inches shorter than the standouts that grab all the headlines. Those stalwarts likely attracted their share of stars and are on the watch lists of most local colleges, and maybe even some of the national powerhouses.
Don't tell Carly Thibault she can't do something.
Al Lewis attempted to influence Carly in high school by bringing her back slowly from injuries.
Mike Thibault tried to do it years ago when he encouraged Carly and his son, Eric, not to follow in his footsteps and become a basketball coach.
Carly's passion for basketball won out on both occasions.
One shot. One goal.
It sounds simple, but when your breathing accelerates and you can hear your heart pounding and you see how the beats shake your hands, focusing on one shot can be a daunting task.
Imagine going 60 mph on the water and coming to a stop.
STEENS -- Finding your voice sometimes can be difficult.
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