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G O D F R E Y ’ S TA K E
Remembering Steve McNair By Steven Godfrey Featured Columnist
hree weeks before the death of Steve McNair I was contacted by this publication to arrange an interview with the former star quarterback of Alcorn State. Despite the title of this magazine and my constant coverage of all things Ole Miss, Mississippi State and beyond, I actually live in Nashville, Tennessee, McNair’s adopted home city following his 13-year career in the NFL, the bulk of which was spent as quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. In fact, the offices of the Steve McNair Foundation sit one floor above my day job in a downtown district of Nashville called The Gulch. Unlike countless professional athletes who establish charities in their own names, McNair actually managed his. I saw Steve frequently, certainly enough that in celebrity terms, I saw him what seemed to be all the time. We made small talk in elevators or nodded hello, but that was the extent of my communication with McNair. Ironically I would find out later that he was happy to talk to anyone about anything. But I never brought up that I was a Mississippian or a sportswriter, because Steve McNair never really seemed like Steve McNair. He was just a quiet guy. When MSM began planning profiles of Mississippi’s retired professional athletes, I volunteered to set up an interview with McNair strictly because of my proximity. I was a little too young to have followed his ASU run knowledgeably, and I was never a Titans fan. Still, he seemed like a nice enough guy. And besides, I saw him all the damn time. The planned interview, what you’re currently reading, never took place. I left a message with McNair’s foundation a week prior to the July 4 holidays. McNair was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds just blocks from the office building we roamed, where he always stopped to take pictures with tourists or talk football with the janitorial staff. Most of us know a lot about how Steve McNair lived, as a record-setting quarterback, a phenom athlete from a nowhere town playing ball in a nowhere school before going pro and turning all those nowhere places into definitive ‘somewheres’ in the eyes of the media. McNair took a career of 16,823 yards and 119 touchdown passes at Alcorn State and rode 2 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
it all the way to two NFL MVPs and a Super Bowl appearance. Along the way, the fruits of his labor bore youth football camps in both Mississippi and Tennessee that McNair’s foundation provided scholarships for. It would seem we know everything about how Steve McNair died. McNair died from the effects of a stupid decision likely made months or years before his actual death, and the damage of that single decision will extend to forever tarnish his legacy. What the people of Mount Olive, the Alcorn State community and all Mississippians should know is that outside of the Magnolia State, and especially in Nashville, McNair’s name has survived past the headlines of his death. His years of community service and his performance on the field have returned as the paramount details of character. In other words, McNair’s life is now and hopefully forever, more important than his death. Of course, there’s no way to gauge such a thing. Ask any national sportswriter or blogger about McNair and they’ll still fixate on the murder-homicide and not the countless injuries overcome, the playoff wins or even the fated pass to Kevin Dyson that came up a single, bitter yard short of a world title. But if you ask a Titans fan, (and in the course of my day I interact with plenty) they’ll instantly mention a particular time they met Steve McNair, talked to Steve McNair, had something signed by Steve McNair or just saw Steve McNair. I started noticing this trend in the days after his death, when the local media was rightfully consumed by the story but without much in the way of new developments. Sports talk radio in Nashville was bombarded by callers expressing fond memories and practically never condemnation for McNair. “Steve McNair stopped eating dinner one night to sign an autograph for my son. Then he offered to take a picture.” “We asked Steve McNair to donate a game ball for a local charity. He sent over five, all signed, instead.” And on and on and on. I expected this kind of reverence to hold through the week or two after his death and then the vitriol and cynicism to seep in. There were undoubtedly those who condemned McNair’s infidelity, but as I write this eight weeks later, people in Nashville are still calling radio stations to talk about Steve McNair’s generosity or friendliness. In the era of the spoiled pro athlete as
a loathed super villain, I’ve heard more than a handful of country-friend chest-thumping Volunteer State rednecks blubber through hotline segments, letters to the editor and blog posts about what Steve McNair, “the man,” meant to them. And let’s not forget, Steve McNair was a black quarterback for a pro football franchise in Nashville, Tennessee, a city synonymous with country music and white culture. If a multimillionaire black athlete dies by the hand of his mistress in the Tennessee buckle of the Bible belt and more than one Joe-Bob can express gratitude and sympathy, that’s a special individual indeed. McNair even left Tennessee for its loathed rival Baltimore in 2006 and somehow stayed in the good graces of Music City fans. While it might not be a household name in hatred, the Ravens and Titans have no love lost for each other. When I asked local fans why they kept admiration for a departed football star in an era of short term memories and high expectations, no one had the same answer. Some admired his poise and concern as a local celebrity in Nashville. Some just respect his relentless work ethic on the field of play. “You could’ve called the guy a black Brett Favre for a couple years,” one guy said. “But then again, you could’ve called Favre a white Steve McNair for a couple other years.” Mount Olive, Mississippi can’t change the way Steve McNair died. Alcorn State can’t stop the headlines that continue to swirl. But Mississippi can and should keep its head held high when speaking about Steve McNair. The doors to his charity offices will be open again and the time, effort and money he put into helping underprivileged children all the way from Shelby Avenue in East Nashville to the hamlets of Highway 49 will continue to make a difference if those who cared enough to help before will continue to do so again. Obviously no man is perfect, no legacy is unblemished. Rarely does a celebrity survive the spotlight intact. However, I can tell you that from up here in Nashville, a city of fans and well-wishers are ready to keep the McNair legacy positive. Certainly his home state should decide to do the same. - MSM Steven Godfrey is a Brandon native and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach him at www.thegodfreyshow.com
â€œAiringâ€? it Out... Regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in college football history, Steve became the only player in NCAA history to gain more than 16,000 yards (16,823) in total offense during his college career. He set collegiate records by averaging 400.5 yards in total offense per game and 8.18 yards gained per pass play for his career. Steve also set the NCAA single-season record by averaging 527.18 yards of total offense per game as a senior. Photo courtesy the Tennessee Titans
Steve made the cover of Sports Illustrated on September 26, 1994.
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First Action... With the third pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, the Oilers and new head coach Jeff Fisher selected McNair, who signed a seven-year contract. McNair did not see his first action until the last two series of the fourth quarter in a November game versus the Cleveland Browns. Late in the season, he also appeared briefly against the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. Photo courtesy the Tennessee Titans
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MVP... In December of the 2003 season, an injured calf and ankle kept McNair on the sidelines for two games. Still he finished with the best numbers of his career, including 24 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 100.4. The Titans ended the season at 12â€“4, the same record as the Colts, but Indianapolis took the AFC South by virtue of its two victories over Tennessee. McNair and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning were named co-NFL MVPs following the season. Photo courtesy the Tennessee Titans
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Last Stop... Steve McNair ended his 13 year NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens. Retiring in 2008 Steve finished his career throwing for 31,304 yards, 174 TDs, 119 INTs, with a 82.8 quarterback rating. Â Photo by Phil Hofmann, Baltimore Ravens
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Catch of the Day... BILOXI - Thousands of spectators showed up over the 4th of July weekend in Biloxi at the 61st Annual Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. The event drew over 3,500 participants from all over the United States and included salt and fresh water species. Â Photo by Mississippi Sports Magazine
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Hall of Fame Turnout... JACKSON - The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum held its annual silent auction on August 1 as the final event for the 2009 Hall of Fame induction weekend. Hundreds of guests showed up for this fabulous event to bid on sports memorabilia and other Mississippi made products to help raise money in support of the museum. Â Photo by Mississippi Sports Magazine
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FROM THE PUBLISHERS
Plenty of Mississippians grace Sports Illustrated covers
mentioned in our first column back in July/August 2008 that growing up as a kid I loved to read Sports Illustrated. That was one of the main inspirations that made me take on the task of producing Mississippi Sports Magazine. My Dad had issues from way back in the 60’s and 70’s that I cut up and made a collage on my wall of all the great players I grew up watching. Sorry Dad, some of those copies could have paid for at least a semester of college now days thanks to eBay! With all the hype lately of Houston Nutt being on the SI SEC regional preview and Jevan Snead along with Daverin Geralds featured on the SI regional College Football Preview issues, it made me start to wonder just how many Mississippians had graced the cover of SI during the years. Well, I did a little research and scanned through the archives of SI.com and they have a section where you can order every cover that has been printed of SI for people who’d like to collect them. So, how many Mississippians have been on the famous covers? Charlie Conerly 1956 Mississippi’s first athlete to grace the cover was Charlie Conerly way back in 1956 while he was the starting quarterback for the New York Giants. Since that year thirty-six covers of SI have showcased an athlete from the great state of Mississippi or one who played a sport at one of our colleges or universities. Just to give you an idea of who they are (in no particular order) there is Connerly, Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Lance Alworth, Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Will Clark, Chris Jackson, Steve McNair, Marcus Dupree, Jonathan Papelbon, Greg Hardy, Houston Nutt, Jevan Snead with Devarin Geralds and Jason Taylor. Walter Payton 1984 No Mississippian has graced the cover more than Brett Favre. Brett has made the cover of SI seven times (nine if you count Super Bowl commemorative issues and the “I have retired” tribute issue). Walter Payton is second on the list with five and Jerry Rice is third with four including a Super Bowl commemorative issue. Sure, several of these athletes have been on more than one cover, but if you stop and think about it, three of these athletes are Mississippi born and bred and could be considered the greatest players ever at their position. That has a nice little ring to it. Something Mississippians can Chris Jackson 1989 hold their head up high for and say we may be low on quantity but we are high on quality. We hope to start a trend of our own here at MSM and always try to give you Mississippi’s best on the covers of our magazines. We also hope 25 years from now we will have our commemorative covers online for people to collect as well.
*Photos courtesy SI.com
Greg Pevey Publisher Philippians 4:13
Volume 2, Issue 2 September/October 2009
Published by Pevey Publishing, LLC Publishers Greg & Mendy Pevey Editor Jack Criss Columnists Bo Bounds, Doug Colson, Steven Godfrey, Yolanda Moore, Chuck Stinson, Contributing Writers Keith E. Benoist, David Culpepper, Cary Estes, Steven Godfrey, Paul Jones, Nash Nunnery, John E. Phillips, Chuck Stinson Contributing Photographers David Culpepper, Alex Kroke, Greg Pevey, John E. Phillips, Michael Rubenstein, SI.com, Sports Information offices at: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, MS Sports Hall of Fame & Museum Advertising Sales Greg Pevey, Jay Pevey, Mendy Pevey Mississippi Sports Magazine is published bi-monthly by Pevey Publishing, LLC to promote Mississippi’s sportsmen and women, colleges, universities, high schools, communities and citizens in an informative and positive manner. We welcome contributions of articles and photos; however, they will be subject to editing and availability of space and subject matter. Photographs, comments, questions, subscription requests and ad placement inquiries are invited! Return envelopes and postage must accompany all labeled materials submitted if a return is requested. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Mississippi Sports Magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. We reserve the right to refuse any advertisement. Pevey Publishing, LLC is not affiliated with any institution, college, university, or other academic or athletic organization. Subscriptions are $24 (1 year, 6 issues). Make checks payable to Pevey Publishing, LLC and mail to: 405 Knights Cove West, Brandon, MS 39047 or subscribe online at www.mssportsmagazine.com.
Pevey Publishing, LLC To Contact MSM > LETTERS • email MSM at email@example.com or mail to Mississippi Sports Magazine, 405 Knights Cove West, Brandon, Mississippi 39047. Letters should include writer’s full name, address and home phone number and may be edited for clarity and space. ADVERTISING • For ad rates, editorial calendar or a media kit, email MSM at firstname.lastname@example.org or download a PDF of our media kit off our “view this issue online” blog page at www.mssportsmagazine.com. 12 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Mississippi Sports Magazine 405 Knights Cove West • Brandon, MS 39047 PUBLISHING Phone: 601-503-7205 • Fax: 601-992-2885 email: email@example.com www.mssportsmagazine.com
2 GODFREY’S TAKE Steven remembers Steve McNair.
16 OUT OF BOUNDS
Bo Bounds sounds off on the new ESPN contract with the SEC.
18 YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING? Chuck and Doug talk about what’s going on in Mississippi.
20 Around the State
News and notes of what’s happening in the area.
22 DOGS & REBELS BATTLE FOR THE EGG “CUP”? Mississippi State and Ole Miss gear up for the upcoming hockey season.
24 WHERE LEGENDS COME TO LIFE The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is one destination sports fans don’t want to miss.
28 COVER STORY: MSU’s JACK CRISTIL Paul Jones sits down with the MSU broadcasting legend.
34 ARE YOU READY?
Shepard Smith is not afraid to promote Ole Miss and Mississippi across the world-wide airwaves.
44 MISSISSIPPI LEGENDS
Robert Morgan talks life, golf, and his induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
48 SPORTS BIZ
CHEER...Is a Contact Sport: Duane Meilstrup of Brookhaven’s Mississippi Gym of Dreams is making an impact.
50 HIGH SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT Cellular South’s new “Y’all vs. Us” spotlights Mississippi’s great high school rivalries.
52 MISSISSIPPI OUTDOORS 56 TIMEOUT WITH YOLANDA MOORE You Can Make It!
“Rube” is unquestionably the most recognized and popular sports anchor the state has ever known. Photo by Mississippi Sports Magazine Mississippi Sports Magazine - 13
Q & A
Archie Manning New Orleans Saints, Ole Miss, Drew High School As another football season kicks off, Mississippi football icon Archie Manning is sure to be seen at many games this season. Whether it’s in a Skybox at one of his famous sons games or pre-game in “The Grove.” Archie is ready for some football. Interview by James O. Covington
other. Obviously it would be a long shot, James O. Covington: Nice view? (Manbut if they ever played in the Super Bowl as ning’s office sits in Downtown New Orleans competitors, it wouldn’t be fun for me. on the 8th floor of the Entergy Building with JC: Eli’s Homecoming the Superdome in sight). on October 18 sure Photo courtesy Archie Manning: Thanks. I can’t Ole Miss Athletics should be a hot ticket. wait to see Eli play his first game I’m sure your already over there. getting a lot of ticket JC: So Eli has never played in requests for that the Superdome before? one? AM: Nope, this year will be his AM: Yeah, it first. He never got the chance in should be an high school (Newman) or colinteresting lege (Ole Miss). Four years ago game. Drew he was supposed to play down Brees and here, but Hurricane Katrina the Saints are hit and the game was moved always fun to New York instead. to watch no JC: Some NFL analysts predict matter who the a Manning Super Bowl this year. opponent. AM: I really don’t get caught up in the JC: Your alma pre-season predictions and all of that stuff, mater (Ole Miss) James. I just hope both will do well. did quite well last Each has a tough schedule this year, year. How do you especially the Colts. Man, they think the Rebels will have a hard one. do this year? JC: Looking back to when AM: They return a lot Peyton and Eli of players and the schedboth won back to ule is favorable but playing back Super Bowls durin the SEC is always hard. I ing the last three hope they do well. I know Houston years, how (Nutt) will have them ready. special did JC: Recently “An Evening with the Manthat make you feel as a ning’s” raised over $600,000 dollars for father? the new Eli Manning Childrens Clinics in AM: It was a special Jackson, that’s impressive. moment for our entire AM: Yes, I am very proud of Eli and Peyton family. Olivia and I are and their commitment to inspiring and helptruly blessed to ing children in need. Eli’s goal is to help raise have such $2.5 million for the hospital. wonderJC: Finally, are you ready for the season? ful sons. AM: James, I’ve been ready since March. It’s really a We’re finally going to see some football. I blessing for those two boys to play football, know everyone around this region is ready but for them both to play in a Super Bowl, for that. and then for each of them to win a Super JC: Yeah, but I know you’re extra ready beBowl, words can’t express that feeling. cause I’ll go ahead and say it I’m predicting JC: So what if the Giants faced the Colts in Eli and Peyton to meet in this year’s Super this year’s Super Bowl. Who would you pull Bowl in Miami. for? AM: (Yawns) Man, that NFL schedule is a AM: I would love for each to go back to anbrutal one. We’ll have to see what happens. other Super Bowl and each win another one. We’ll just have to see… - MSM But as a parent, we hope it’s not against each 14 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Rise Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
The Gulf Coast celebrated the 61st year of its Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo July 4th weekend and what a sight it was to see. Over 3,500 fishermen from all over the U.S. participated in this year’s event and was a great way to spend the 4th of July weekend. With the economy the way it is these days the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a great place to visit and enjoy a fantastic weekend whether at the Rodeo or on the beach. The firework show on the beach between the Hard Rock and the Grand Casino is a sight in itself.
2009 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Induction We had the opportunity to attend all three events this year for the 2009 class of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame from July 31 to August 1 and let me tell you what a great event that was. There is no other event in Mississippi that has all of our heroes we admired growing up in this state gathered in the same place at one time. We had the pleasure to talk with Boo Ferris, Billy Ray Adams, Johnnie Cooks, Jimmie “Red” McDowell, the new inductees and so many more. The stories they have to tell are amazing. The silent auction held on the last night of the weekend was a great event also. Hundreds of people showed up to bid on Mississippi sports collectibles and other Mississippi-made products as the Hall of Famers were in attendance as well. The auction is the best opportunity to mingle and talk with these Mississippi greats. Michael Rubenstein and his staff put together a terrific weekend and should be commended for their efforts. This is one event all of you should try to attend every year.
Slide Hugh Green no-shows MSHOF induction
Natchez native and runner-up to the 1980 Heisman Trophy, Hugh Green, failed to show up for his 2009 induction into the MS Sports Hall of Fame. We know he was in Natchez the same weekend playing golf. There are plenty of rumors going around as well. Hugh may have hurt his reputation somewhat in the eyes of Mississippi sports fans and especially within the Hall of Fame.
Dogwood Festival Market • Flowood © 2009 CFA Properties, Inc. Chick-fil-A Stylized® and the Chick-fil-A Cows® are registered trademarks of CFA Properties, Inc.
OUT OF BOUNDS
Uncensored with swagger, the SEC is coming to a TV near you
By BO BOUNDS Host of Out of Bounds, 105.9FM ESPN Radio - Jackson
owerful. Passionate. Wealthy. Fanatical. The Lifestyle of the SEC. On September 3rd, the Southeastern Conference will kick off the 2009 season and begin reaping the rewards for being the strongest football conference in the land. The television deal the SEC struck with CBS and ESPN has made the SEC the Proctor and Gamble of college football. By now, you’ve heard Mike Slive and media members trumpet the deal, and how the league will showcase its assets (players that don’t get paid) and CEOs (coaches that do) to the world starting this September. All 96 conference games will be on television this year and for years to come. Not only will this benefit the member institutions on the field, but also the Engineering, Business and Architectural programs within the 12 institutions. In other words, yes, winning is key in the league, but which institutions will capitalize on the student-recruitment side of the university? There’s no questions Mike Slive is a sharp man. I believe his leadership and support staff played a major role in inking the deal that will not only showcase football, but also put SEC hoops on the same page as the ACC and Big East. At the end of the day, the fans of the SEC made this deal happen, and it started a long time ago. From General Neyland to Bear Bryant and Adolph Rupp, the SEC has no rival for legendary figures: coaches and players. Bear Bryant, Rick Pitino, Steve Spurrier, and Skip Bertman are the Mount Rushmore of college athletics. And Pitino, Spurrier and Bertman came around at the time of the cable-boom and salary rise in college athletics. Speaking of Spurrier, the SEC went from a three-yard and a cloud of dust play, to a conference that finally let its athletes use the whole field to play football. Spurrier showed
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us, it was OK to score points and win championships. However, at the end of the day, with all the offensive talent in the SEC – defense wins championships. My, how Bear Bryant was right about defense winning championships and the potential in the Florida Gators. The Bear knew the Florida Gators could be scary. He was quoted several times throughout his career talking about the Gators, and what could happen if they ever got it together. As great a coach as The Bear was, there’s no questions he recognized Florida’s high school talent and population were tremendous assets. It took Bob Stoops and defense to take Spurrier to the mountain top. Spurrier’s dominance of SEC football is what revolutionized the league and is another reason for the multi-billion dollar contract inked last year. In the nastiest recession since the Depression, all 12 schools in the SEC increased ticket sales. How does this happen? A sense of Southern pride and fanatical fans, who base a large part of their happiness on the success of their football team. Has fanaticism hurt academics in the SEC? Absolutely not. In fact it’s the reason why all the institutions are far better academically today than they were 20 years ago. Success on the national stage (especially in football, but in basketball and baseball too) generates more money on the academic side from alums and friends, and better students apply to your school. Which institutions will take advantage of their new wealth? There’s only so much money a team can spend on a sport. Programs are not allowed to pay players. Yes, players have been receiving money under the table for years, but it’s a penance compared to what head coaches, athletic directors and coordinators receive today. At some point, you can only build so many suites, premium level seats, and upperlevel decks. Bottom line, all the programs will benefit, but which programs will thrive in the big-3 sports? The rich will continue to get richer in the conference: Florida, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn. But the most intriguing question to me is: Which team that is not considered a powerhouse (but all have had success at some point), will take advantage of the new dollars coming into the league. Now
is the time to make your move, and become a fixture in the middle of the league? Who will it be? Ole Miss? Arkansas? Mississippi State? Kentucky? South Carolina? Vanderbilt? Timing is everything, and if you’re on the verge of being good, or just now turning the corner, that program has a distinct advantage over others. Right now, I like Arkansas, Ole Miss and Kentucky. That doesn’t mean that any or all three will make the move that’s necessary to be that 7th best program year in and year out. That title will get you into the Top 5 of the league on some years, but never falling into the bottom third of the league for more than a year. I think the TV deal is bigger for the 7-12 programs, if they have the right leadership from their athletic director, and take a savvy marketing approach to the street. What makes the 7-12 programs consistent winners? First, your team has to recruit really well at the QB position. For the non-traditional powers, which don’t enjoy the “rock star” love from ESPN and others, it comes down to quarterback play and scheduling. After that, your program has to go to five-consecutive bowl games. This gives you that pre-season top-25 ranking and more times than not a ranking in the prestigious final regular season poll. In this league – the land of milk and honey – you have to maneuver like a CEO and market your program like Jordan did Nike. Good luck to this team trying to stay in the 5-7 rankings on a consistent basis, because Florida, LSU and Bama don’t plan on letting your program into the elite fraternity. The talent, food, subway fans and weather We talk about this on my sports talk radio show, The Out of Bounds Show on ESPN 105.9 The Zone, all the time. The SEC is not only defined by great coaches and players, but by beautiful women, great food and being blessed with some of the best weather in the world. For those of us who have traveled the league, and lived “The Lifestyle of the SEC”, we know where to eat and on gamedays you’ll find just as much talent at the tailgate or dive you frequent as on the football field. SEC women sell SEC programs just like coaches, facilities and top-10 rankings. The wonderful culinary talents in the kitchen – from mom
and pop cafés and grills to fine dining – the experience is nothing short of spiritual on a college football weekend in the SEC. Some would argue that women, food and weather are the league’s greatest assets. Either way, they are assets that the other conference will never have, and they can’t duplicate them. From there the league has cashed in on the “subway fan.” People who did not attend the school they support, but love it just as much or more than an alum of the school. How many times have I heard somebody say, “I like Florida because my relatives live in Gainesville or somewhere in Florida?” I love it. And the league loves and feeds off of it. My uncle lives in Phoenix, AZ, and I’m not a fan of Arizona State, the Arizona Cardinals or the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bad example, I know, but you get my point. The TV ratings prove that millions of people outside of the region turn on SEC football in the fall. Prediction time The SEC West Ole Miss – If not this year, when? The Rebels have the coach, quarterback and schedule to head east in December. As much as I love Snead and the crew on offense, winning the championship will come down to Tyrone Nix and the Rebels defense. Can they get through Bama and LSU? Hardy, Trahan, Powe and company will make it happen. Alabama – Saban. Really that’s all I have to type. Defense. That should be enough too. Saban is loaded and he’s the best coach in the SEC West and maybe the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Crimson Tide is heading to Atlanta after the Iron Bowl. Defense and special team…Javier Arenas could be the Xfactor. LSU – Love the Tigers, but the schedule and quarterback won’t quite line up for LSU this year. They are loaded and could beat Bama or Ole Miss, but I think they’ll come up a little short this year. I love the Tigahs in 2010. Arkansas – The schedule is brutal, but I think they’ll be the best 7-5 team in the country. Watch out, they might beat one of the Big 3 this year. Ryan Mallet will be awesome by the end of the year. Auburn – Chizik hired two outstanding coordinators in Ted Roof and Gus Malzahn. I like their schedule, but they don’t have the horses. Can they upset a big-boy this year? MSU – What Sly Croom left Dan Mullen is almost criminal. The Bulldogs schedule is brutal, too. Mullen will get the quarterback he needs, and the scheduling will improve over the next few years. The SEC East Florida – With all the talent on defense, the Gators are just about guaranteed a trip to Atlanta in December. Oh yeah, they have the best QB in the country and one of the top
three coaches. National title or bust. Georgia – The schedule is one of the toughest in the land. Richt has done a great job, and the Bulldogs are loaded in the trenches. Their record will be deceiving, and Georgia will pound somebody in the post-season. Kentucky – Rich Brook should have the stadium named after him. Brooks and his staff have won 3-straight bowl games. They’ll go to their 4th in a row this year. South Carolina – My how the mighty have fallen. Another tough schedule, the Gamecocks could be one of the better 6-6 teams in the country. Tennessee – Lane Kiffin will learn early that the SEC is a monster, unlike the Pac-10.
After, September 19th, Kiffin will be begging for some relief. The Vols will get better, because Kiffin’s staff understands big-time recruiting. Vanderbilt – They would go 7-5 in the ACC, Big 10 or Big East. Unfortunately, with worse scheduling, Vandy will not go to backto-back bowl games. - MSM
Bo Bounds is the host of The Out of Bounds Show on ESPN 105.9 The Zone in Jackson, MS. He is also the editor of Yallsports.com. You can contact Bo at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A By Chuck Stinson Co-Host of Mississippi Sports this Morning, 620AM Jackson
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fter dreaming of a career in television sports at an early age, I recently wrapped up 23 years in that business, all of it in Mississippi. My how time flies when you’re having fun. My intent when I came to this great state was to get some experience and move up and move out. I got the experience. I even moved up but I never moved out. And I’m glad I didn’t. Never did I think I would see so many great games, great teams, and meet so many wonderful people along the way. My assignments allowed me to meet some of the world’s most famous athletes or to a pee wee baseball game on a hot Delta night. All were equally exciting to me. And while the numbers and memories have become a little bit fuzzy over the years, the feelings have not. I’ve watched Alcorn State basketball in Seattle, Delta State’s women’s basketball in Los Angeles and in Boston, and Mississippi Delta Community College in Pocatello, Idaho. Daytona 500’s and Super Bowls from Phoenix to Miami. I’ve seen national championships won. I’ve covered thousands of college events, hundreds of professional games and a beaver dam being blown up in Leland. It is mind boggling the things you can do with a TV camera on your shoulder. That’s why this is a thank you note. Thanks first to Stan Sandroni who brought me to the great state of Mississippi by giving me my first job at WXVT in Greenville in 1986. Thanks to Bob Ghetti and WABG-TV in Greenville for letting me come back to the Delta after a year away in 1988. Thanks also to Randy Swan who kept me around WABG when I was offered a chance to leave for another venture. Then came the move to Jackson and WLBT-TV in 1995. Thanks to then sports director Ed Fiddler for seeing enough in me to bring me to Mississippi’s number one television station and top sports department. Thanks to the staff and management of TV3 (Dan Modisett and Dennis Smith in particular) for allowing me the opportunity to explore so many different avenues during my nearly 14 years at the station. Thanks to all the people I worked with in the news/sports department there, especially Rob Jay who became a good friend as well as a colleague. Thanks also to the viewers. The responsibility you gave me was great. I made my share of mistakes but they were rarely due to a lack of effort. You were quick to correct and even quicker to forgive, allowing me to come back into your homes time and time again and I thank you for that. I also have to say a big thanks to my family for allowing me to live a life most sports nuts only dream about. My TV experience is over but it continues to enrich my life. It led to my radio job at WJDX in Jackson where, in March, I will celebrate 10 years on the air as part of “Mississippi Sports this Morning” with my partner Doug Colson. It also helped me with the opportunity to write for Mississippi Sports Magazine. Even more reasons for thanks. And a tip of the cap goes to the fine folks of Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency for giving me a new path and a new career. I’m thankful they believe I can help their efforts to save lives. And just maybe my career in television can somehow lend itself to that mission. Finally, thank you for indulging me. - MSM
Y O U K N O W W H AT I ’ M S AY I N G ?
Don’t believe the hype... or should you?
By Doug Colson Co-Host of Mississippi Sports this Morning, 620AM Jackson
amous English Poet, William Cowper, uttered his most famous quote a century before the first college football game was ever played: “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor”. Most years there is no better way to describe college football in the state of Mississippi. I know from time to time we all fantasize about an alternate universe where Mississippi has one FBS (D1) program. (Imagine the All-American goulash we would serve up every year on New Year’s Day.) Opponents would fear us and wilt under the pressure of playing a program with our copious championships and verbose history. We would be obnoxious…but we don’t live in that universe. Our Mississippi is crawling with numerous college football programs dispersing our talent, fragmenting our allegiances and diffusing media attention. But this year in Mississippi is different. One question is on every college football fan’s mind: Can Ole Miss live up to the preseason hype? I have been amazed by the amount of national hoopla heaped on the Ole Miss Rebels this summer. Never did I think a team from this state could eclipse the widespread preseason buzz that Eli Manning generated. Think about it: the 2009 Rebels have received more preseason attention from the national media in the last four months than Eli Manning ever did in his four years in Oxford. The seeds of this ballyhoo were planted last year when Ole Miss went into the swamp and stunned the fourth ranked Florida Gators 31 to 30. Thanks to Tim Tebow and his post game “Promise,” Ole Miss gets to live in the subconscious of the collective sports media as the only team to vanquish the BCS champs. Throw in a dominant performance against LSU and a 47-34 impressive Cotton Bowl win over last year’s media darling Texas Tech and you start to understand why Ole Miss became this year’s sexy pick. So as the magazine covers pile up (three SI covers in the last 12 months) and the award watch lists are littered with the best Ole Miss Football has to offer, the balloon of expectation continues to fill. As preseason polls reveal another top ten ranking, we hear the unmistakable sound of expanding rubber. Earlier this summer the Rebels were selected to become reality television’s next big thing. The show was to be called Gridiron U. Their plan was to document the trials and tribulations as Ole Miss prepared to do battle in the SEC. The spotlight and exposure Gridiron U would have provided could have cultivated a nationwide fan base. Like the Red Sox or Raiders, Ole Miss could have had their own Nation. What seemed like a good idea for publicity in June became an anchor in August. Gridiron U must have reminded Houston Nutt of the old adage about sausage: “Sure it tastes great, but you don’t want to see it made”. So he pulled the plug on Gridiron U faster than ABC canceled the “Geico Caveman” series. Removing the scrutiny brought on by reality TV might be the move that keeps the Rebel’s balloon from bursting. So here is the 64 thousand dollar question. Will Ole Miss live up to the preseason hype? Nobody knows for sure, but I don’t think the hype is not without merit. The Rebels boast the best pro QB prospect in the SEC, depth on both lines and a bevy of skill position players. Throw in a very manageable schedule and you see why the national media is touting the Rebels. I know the naysayers will point to the secondary as a weakness and lack of experience on the main stage as reasons the Rebels will fail. Having to navigate the minefield of an SEC schedule unscathed is almost an impossible task. Ole Miss will face an early challenge from South Carolina, but if they manage to get through the Alabama game undefeated they will find themselves in the SEC West driver seat. But if the Rebels become the next victim of the “Sports Illustrated jinx,” have no fear - I’m sure there will be plenty of Bulldogs and Golden Eagles willing to lend a shoulder to cry on. Yeah Right…. – MSM
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 19
MS Students win Regional and National Awards The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association has announced its annual winners of regional and national scholar athlete scholarships. Two Mississippi students were included in the honorees. David Wesley Welch of Pearl High School was a winner for the Southeast and for the nation, and Elizabeth (Bess) Ruff of Tupelo High School was a winner for the Southeast. Each year the Mississippi High School Activities Association accepts nominations from member high schools for a male and a female student as the Mississippi Lindy Callahan Scholar Athlete from their school. During the 2008-2009 school year there were 320 nominations, and sixteen high school students were awarded $1500 scholarships. Two students from those sixteen winners were named state winners-Wesley Welch, the male winner from District VI, and Bess Ruff, the female winner from District I. As state winners they advanced to regional competition, and both students won the Section 3 scholarship for the Southeast. They then advanced to the national level competition. Wesley Welch was the male student winner for the nation. “We don’t hear enough about the outstanding scholar athletes in Mississippi. Each year I’m amazed by the academic, athletic, and leadership achievements of our Lindy Callahan nominees. Most of these young people also volunteer many hours in their communities,” stated Dr. Ennis Proctor, MHSAA Executive Director. “I applaud these two winners at the regional and national level, and I challenge all of our students to excel in academics while developing their leadership skills through athletics and activities.” Wesley Welch, the son of Danielle Deanne Morales and Keith Gregory Welch, scored 35 on the ACT. He lettered in football 3 years, tennis 4 years, power lift20 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
ing 2 years, and track 1 year. This president of Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, and Foreign Language Club was also Wide Receiver of the Year, Captain of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and All-District in football. Wesley is Pearl’s STAR Student, a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, and a National Merit SemiFinalist. He spent many hours volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and at the Mississippi State Hospital. His football coach John Perry said, “Wesley’s leadership both on and off the field was outstanding….I feel Wesley is the most well-rounded young man I have been around in my 15 years of service.” Wesley will attend Harvard University this year. Elizabeth Ruff, better known as Bess, is the daughter of Phil and Norma Ruff of Tupelo. She had a 4.0 grade point average for her high school career, a 34 on the ACT, and a class rank of 1 in her class of 397. She participated in cross country, soccer, tennis, and swimming. Her principal Mac Curlee said, “Bess is one of our most involved students, and she exhibits a wide range of versatility. Her memberships range from We Care About Animals to Shakespearean Literary Society to Anchor Club to Spanish Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.” A Merit Scholar and an ACT Scholar, she volunteers her time with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the Hospice House, the Tupelo-Lee County Humane Society, as well as Traceway Retirement Center. Bess will attend Washington & Lee University. The Mississippi Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete Awards program began in 1996 in honor of Mr. Lindy Callahan, who was an athletic director and coach of Gulfport schools for 39 years. Callahan, a member of the National High School Sports Hall of Fame and the National Coaches Hall of Fame, also served as the
past president of the MHSAA. He is now retired and resides in Gulfport, where he continues to support high school athletics and academics. These $1500 scholarships are made possible through donations from Mississippi Power Company, EnviroTurf, BankPlus, Adams & Reese, Cellular South, Blue Bell Creameries, Don Proctor, Athletic Services, Inc., and the Mississippi High School Activities Association. The Mississippi 2008-2009 Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete Award winners are listed below: District I - Elizabeth (Bess) Ruff, Tupelo High School, David Brayden Whitmon, Mooreville High School District II - Charquita Devoncha Anderson, Southaven High School, Curt Presley, Oxford High School District III - Angela Celeste DeAngelo, St. Joseph Catholic High School, Sedric Hogan, McClain High School District IV - Jennifer Cooper, Ackerman High School, David Wayne Horton, II, Columbus High School District V - Krystyn Davis, Quitman High School, Adam Marshall Herrington, West Jones High School District VI - Clara Elisabeth Martin, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, David Wesley Welch, Pearl High School District VII - Julie Anne Case, West Lincoln Attendance Center, John P. Moore, III, Wilkinson County High School District VIII - Madeleine Michelli, Our Lady Academy, Eamonn Patrick Mehaffey, Hancock High School. - MSM
Fall 2009 Jackson Touchdown Club Special Guests: All meetings held at 6:00 P.M. at River Hills Club TUES. SEPT. 8, 2009 MICKEY LOOMIS, Saints G. M. General Manager of the New
Orleans Saints MON. SEPT. 14, 2009 DAN REEVES, Former head coach of the Denver Broncos & Atlanta Falcons MON. SEPT. 21, 2009 JOHN HANNAH, NFL Hall of Fame All-time Greatest offensive lineman from Alabama & NE Patriots MON. SEPT. 28, 2009 JOHNNY MUSSO, College HOF College Football HOF Back from Alabama MON. OCT. 5, 2009 GRANT TEAFF, AFCA Executive Director of American Football Coaches Association MON. OCT. 12, 2009 LEM BARNEY, NFL Hall of Fame - Gulfport native, JSU Hall of Fame, MS Sports HOF, Detroit Lions MON. OCT. 19, 2009 HAROLD JACKSON, former All Pro - JSU Hall of Fame player with the LA Rams & Philadelphia Eagles TUES. OCT. 27, 2009 BILLY CANNON & PAUL DIETZEL, LSU; JAKE GIBBS, MARVIN TERRELL & ROBERT KHAYAT, Ole Miss BOBBY RAY FRANKLIN & CHARLIE FLOWERS, Ole Miss 50th Anniversary of the famed 1959 Ole Miss/LSU game MON. NOV. 2, 2009 DAN MULLEN, MS State Bulldogs Head Coach of the Bulldogs in his 1st season MON. NOV. 9, 2009 BILLY SHAW, NFL Hall of Fame Natchez native, MS Sports HOF, Georgia Tech, Buffalo Bills MON. NOV. 16, 2009 RAYMOND BERRY, NFL HOF NFL Hall of Fame Player (Colts) & Super Bowl Coach (NE Patriots) MON. NOV. 23, 2009 SAM WYCHE, Former NFL player and Cincinnati Bengal Super Bowl Coach MON. NOV. 30, 2009 MOST VALUABLE SENIOR NIGHT Awards program features top seniors of all 10 MS collegiate programs - MSM
October 26-November 1, 2009 Annandale Golf Club Madison, MS
WIN A VIKING KITCHEN AT THE VIKING CLASSIC. Buy a $100 raffle ticket to benefit Friends of Childrenâ€™s Hospital, a non-profit organization supporting Batson Childrenâ€™s Hospital, and you could win one of five prizes: a full Viking Kitchen, Viking Outdoor Grill, Viking Wine Cellar, Viking Culinary Travel Package, or a Viking Ultimate Culinary Package. No matter what, the Batson kids win. The drawing will be held after tournament play Sunday. This raffle is sponsored by Century Club Charities and Viking Classic. Buy your tickets now at vikingclassic.com or call the Tournament Office, 601-898-GOLF (4653).
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 21
Bulldogs & Rebels battle for the Egg “Cup”? By CHUCK STINSON Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
magine the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels engaged in an exciting, gut wrenching, nerve racking contest that could change on the next play. One team scores in the final seconds sending one side of the crowd into a frenzied state and the other side slumping to its seats. The winning team turns to its fan base and hoists…the Egg Cup? Say again? The Egg Cup. The trophy that will go to the winning hockey team, the newest addition to the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry that will become a reality this year. The Bulldogs are in their second year of hockey while the Rebels will begin play this season. Both teams are club sports that have little association with the respective Universities other than in name and student athletes. Playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the Bulldogs and Rebels are two of the eleven SEC schools that have a club team (Auburn is the only one that doesn’t). “Financial support is the biggest hurdle,” says senior Alex Palmer, the Mississippi State team president and center. “The University gives us about two grand a year. Other than that, the budget falls on our shoulders, which is about 30 thousand,” adds the Buffalo native who followed his father to Mississippi State to study Engineering after he was brought to Starkville to teach. Palmer says to play, his players have to pay, and that says a lot about their passion for the game. “You can’t find any 22 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
other sport in the world where you can say, ‘Okay, if you want to play this you’ve got to pay a thousand dollars and you’ve got to buy about 12 hundred dollars worth of equipment. If you break a stick it’s gonna cost you a hundred dollars and every week we are driving three hours to practice. There is no other sport in the world where people would agree to this.” The story is much the same at Ole Miss. Team founder Cody Johnson, a Junior from St. Louis, has a similar situation when it comes to financing. “It’s hard enough to find hockey players down here.” Johnson, who readily admits passing up a chance to play college hockey in the East for a chance to enjoy life with Ole Miss coed’s adds, “You have 60 interested out of the whole university then to find some that can actually play and afford it is another thing. That was probably the biggest challenge.” In these beginning stages of development the two teams are relying on donations and fundraising efforts to keep their respective programs afloat. This seems to be going well for both teams but it could always be better. “We’ve had a pretty good response from the community. We probably have four or five sponsorships,” says Colin Knight a Rebel defenseman who hails from Rhode Island. Palmer states, “I think we’re doing all right this year but I think we are just going to squeak by. Obviously, the more the better. If there is ever a surplus then we could buy some other fun stuff for the team such as a skate sharpener and a trailer that would make travelling easier for the team. I’m hoping someday the team has its own bus. “
Merchandising is helping their efforts, as well. Johnson says the IceRebels are planning on the sale of shirts, jerseys, and other items to account for 15 percent of the team’s 35 thousand dollar budget. Palmer says he learned the hard way that there was a market for his teams gear. “I actually got some nasty emails from fans after the games in Tupelo asking for some. They were yelling at us for not having any for sale. They were upset,” he says with a laugh. Despite their financial concerns, they are moving forward and you might be surprised at the level they are playing given the fact that they are in the Deep South without a rink anywhere near their respective campuses. The State team has a wide range when it comes to experience. “We have players who have played since they were three as well as guys who never played before,” says Palmer. He adds, “We even have a 54 year-old on the team. We also have a lot of good freshman coming in from out of state. We might even have a full roster of these experienced players.” Patrick Swartz is one returning IceDawg. A senior left winger from Columbus, he loves the intricacies of the game and how to shoot. You’ve got to learn how to position yourself. You’ve got to learn how to block shots and how to read the game your opposition and your teammates. “ The Ole Miss team will enter its first season with a roster of experienced players according to Johnson. “About half the team is from the northern states. Our talent level ranges. At least everybody has played something competitively. Nobody is a first timer.” Mike Mayhew coaches the Bulldogs on a volunteer basis. A former minor league player who hails from Windsor, Ontario, he is now a deputy sheriff in Lee County. He is quite impressed with what he sees from his players. What they lack in experience they more than make up for with effort. “Out of all the hockey I’ve played and been around it’s probably one of my best moments in hockey to teach these guys. Just to see the heart and dedication. If some of us (minor leaguers) would have had the dedication that these guys have, instead of making six or seven hundred dollars a week, we would be making five to six hundred thousand dollars a year if we had the heart these guys had. It’s just absolutely unreal.” Another challenge on the ice is to find the ice. The Bulldogs have to travel to Decatur, Alabama to practice. That’s three hours away. They are lucky to get in three or four practices a month for their 16 game schedule. For Ole Miss it’s a little friendlier workout plan. The Rebels will practice in Memphis and play in a men’s league. They hope to get on the ice two to three times a week. Still, it’s a bit of a grind
on players who are full time students. The IceRebels will play their home games at the Desoto Center in Southaven and they hope for the same response the IceDawgs got in their first year. “We had lots of students come to our home games in Tupelo. It’s always cool to hear people talking amongst themselves on campus about the hockey team,” says Swartz of last year’s experience for the State team. Palmer thinks student interest would get a little bump with help from the athletic department. “It would be great if they could help us out by promoting us during the football games and I’m hoping they could do that just once during the games. “Coach Mayhew thinks the hook lies in the game experience. “When you’re there, the atmosphere, the music , the hollering, the screaming. The puck hitting the glass. The bodies hitting the glass. Getting that firsthand look at the game, I think it makes a huge difference. When people know the game and understand it they will like it.” So far the IceRebels seem to be getting some of that mojo the IceDawgs enjoyed in that first season. “Everybody seems pretty excited. A lot of people see our t-shirts, see our banners and they’re like, ‘Wow, ice hockey in Mississippi, where did that come from?’ I think we are building up a really good fan base and everybody is pretty excited about it,” says Johnson.
Johnson hopes his efforts aren’t all in vain. He has lofty goals for this team and not just in terms of wins and losses. “My goal is when I come back here and my kids go here that it’s a varsity D1 program. That would be huge for me being the founder. That’s where I’d like to
see it go. I can see the possibility of that in 15 years.” For Palmer it’s a similar goal for his IceDawgs. Asked if he’d like to see the Hump iced one day, he responded simply, “That would be a dream come true”. - MSM
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 23
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
Where legends come to life By Nash Nunnery Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
ucked away off Lakeland Drive due east about a quarter-mile from Interstate 55, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum captures the minds of fans who are enthralled by the games that people play. Not unlike the “Odyssey,” the museum tells a story of the human condition, of confronting enemies, helping friends and, in baseball vernacular, getting home safely. This appeal applies equally to both the casual sports fan and the most zealous. “The museum has been a raging success, from a simple idea to a well-regarded facility,” said Michael Rubenstein, who has served in his capacity as the museum’s executive director since the building opened in 1996. “It’s a labor of love for me and others. I’ve been extremely pleased with the results.” This is not your grandfather’s museum. Traditional artifact displays are enhanced through modern technology, connecting museum visitors with Mississippi sports heroes past and present. Touch-screen kiosks allow visitors to access rare archival footage with the ease of finger to panel. Through interactive technology, one can play a se-
24 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
lection of championship golf courses, pitch to an imposing batter or take penalty kicks against a very stingy soccer goalie. The Participatory Room contains highly interactive exhibits to show off one’s skill in golf, football, basketball and soccer. Labeled by museum officials as “full participation” games and not video or virtual, the room is extremely popular with sports fans of all ages. Sensors in the screen read the force and trajectory of the real golf ball you are striking or the football or baseball a participant throws. Robert Felks recently visited the museum to attend his grandson’s birthday party. He admits that he’s not a sports fan, but he came away delighted by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. “I had no idea that this place has so much of our state’s history,” said the Brandon resident. “All I can say is ‘wow’.” Operated by the non-profit Mississippi Sports Foundation, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum occupies 21,542 square feet. Situated between Smith-Wills Stadium and the Jim Buck Ross Agriculture and Forestry Museum, the $4.5
SPORTS HISTORY million facility has welcomed over a quarter of a million visitors since opening its doors in 1996. Even the name of the street where the facility is located has an historic touch – Cool Papa Bell Drive. A 1995 inductee in the MSHOF, Starkville native James “Cool Papa” Bell flourished in the Negro Leagues. He played an astonishing 28 seasons with several teams, including the Homestead Greys. On August 12, 1974, Bell was the first native Mississippian inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
The original Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame actually began in 1961 with the induction of four nominees: Edwin “Goat” Hale, “Bruiser” Kinard, Dudy Noble and Stanley Robinson. Until construction of the museum, the plaques of every inductee were placed along the walls of the lower level of the Mississippi Coliseum. The 2009 Hall of Fame class includes former USM head coach Jeff Bower, James Carmody, Jr., Hugh Green, Tyrone Keys, Robert Morgan and John Stroud. “I’ve been to Cooperstown and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said museum visitor John Foulke. “For Mississippi to have a treasure such as this is unbelievable. I knew that the state produced a lot of great athletes but to see them enshrined in a magnificent building like this place is awesome.” A Memphis resident, the 44-year old Foulke admitted his favorite area in the Mississippi Hall of Fame and Museum is the locker room exhibit. The glass-encased lockers contain letter jackets, helmets, jerseys, trophies and other memorabilia of individual Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame athletes. “This museum is so special and it’s great that Mississippi has such a treasure to preserve its athletic history,” said Foulke. A part-time worker for the museum, Henry Allen, says the MSHOF is close to his heart –
his late father W.C. “Pop” Allen was inducted as a member in 1994 and was part of the braintrust that initiated the idea of a Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1960. “My father, (along with local radio personality) Farmer Jim Neal and Jimmy “Red” McDowell had a collective dream for a Hall of Fame,” he said. “Having the opportunity to work here keeps me close to my dad’s history.” Pop Allen was a long-time athletic director for the Jackson Public Schools until he retired in 1986. Located just off the main concourse of
letes over the years,” said Bouie. “All of these SI covers is witness to that – I guess my being a big football fan leads me to like the covers with Archie and Eli (Manning).” Janet Bouie was impressed that Mississippi had such a storied history in many sports. “I wish we had something like this in Wisconsin,” she said. “We travel all over the country and I’ve never seen a facility like this one that promotes its state’s athletes.” Still another interesting aspect of the museum is the Pizza Hut Theatre. As visitors enter the museum, a vivid, three-screen multimedia presentation narrated by Pass Christian
Conerly Award Display the facility is the Olympic medallist section. The display lists the names of 22 Mississippi Olympians who brought home the gold for their accomplishments in Olympic competition. Another kiosk contains the minor league baseball history of the state, starting with the early 1900s and going right through to Mississippi’s only current minor league team, the Class AA Mississippi Braves. One of visitor Greg Bouie’s favorite exhibits is the “Mississippians on the Cover” Sports Illustrated display. Bouie, a Wisconsin resident, was traveling through Jackson on his way home to Eau Claire when he and wife Janet were steered to the museum by a server at a Jackson eatery. “Man, your state has had so many great ath-
native and TV sports personality Robin Roberts plays. The 11-minute production includes interviews with Magnolia State superstars Jerry Rice, Ray Guy, Bailey Howell, Ralph Boston, Archie Manning and Willye D. White. “It’s How We Play the Game” focuses not on remembering special moments from longago sporting events but on overcoming the obstacles to success. Which, in some ways, is a fitting theme for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is open Monday thru Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $5, while seniors and students can enter the facility for $3.50. - MSM Mississippi Sports Magazine - 25
Expect more determination. There’s no such thing as a small goal, in sports or anywhere else. For every athlete who sets a world record, there are millions of us with personal aspirations that feel just as important. That’s why Regions always starts by listening to you and learning what goals drive you each day. Then we work harder than anyone to help you get there. So whether you’re opening your ﬁrst checking account or starting your ﬁrst business, we’ll handle the heavy lifting and let you enjoy the thrill of victory.
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OPENING SOON IN D’IBERVILLE, MS
COVER STORY - JACK CRISTIL
HEADING INTO HIS 56TH YEAR AS THE VOICE OF MISSISSIPPI STATE ATHLETICS, JACK CRISTIL HAS SEEN IT ALL.
or the past 55 years, many head coaches in for the play-by-play job at Mississippi State. He By PAUL JONES various sports have come and gone at Misinterviewed with former MSU coach and athletic Contributing Writer sissippi State University. But over that half director Dudy Noble. century-plus, there has been one constant voice for the fans of MSU And the rest, as they say, is history. athletics: Jack Cristil. “In the summer of ‘53, a fellow by the name of Bob McCraney, who Starting his MSU broadcasting career in 1953, generations of fans was the station manager, approached me and asked if I would audition have grown up listening to the smooth voice of Cristil. Describing a for the job at Mississippi State,” said Cristil. “I auditioned and intergame like no other over the airwaves, Cristil has delivered the majority viewed with Coach Dudy Noble, who was the athletic director then. I of high and low points concerning the Bulldogs’ football and basket- had pieced together material for the interview and he hired me. ball programs. “But I didn’t know what to expect or anticipate in that interview. While fans love to hear Cristil say “Wrap it up in Maroon and White”, I had never stepped foot on the campus at Mississippi State. Heck, I they tune in just the same and depend on Cristil to relay what’s taking didn’t even know what an athletic director did. So I put my best clothes place in front of his vantage point at various stadiums and coliseums on and walked in with a smile on my face. And what do ya know, he across the country. actually hired me.” Even to this day, however, Cristil recalls that interview with Noble, and the valuable advice he received on how to handle HOW CRISTIL GOT STARTED the MSU broadcasts. For some people, it takes years to eventually dis“The best advice I ever received came from Coach cover their calling in the working world. Noble the day I was hired,” said Cristil. “He looked But not so for Cristil. at me and said ‘Son, I want you to know how I “I knew what I wanted to do as a youngster, want you to broadcast. I want you to tell the since I was eight or 10 years old,” said Cristil, a folks who has the ball, how much time is left Tupelo native. “But I never dreamed I would and what’s the score. Cut out all the other go through and be at Mississippi State for a bull’.” half-century. And to this day, Cristil has “stuck” with “I could have gone elsewhere and there that procedure. were a number of stations in Ohio and Mis “I have always stuck with that advice,” souri that wanted me for baseball and footsaid Cristil, who still lives in Tupelo today and ball. But at the time, my wife and I had two makes the drive to Starkville on game days. “It is also young girls. Tupelo had a good school system and we the responsibility of a play-by-play broadcaster to make the game as just decided it was best to stay and not navigate outside of Tupelo.” “Well, the G.I. Bill of Rights gave us the right to go to school,” said life-like as humanly possible. The good folks that are listening to you Cristil. “So I studied broadcast journalism and got my start in 1948 are doing so for one reason only, and that’s because they could not broadcasting baseball games in Jackson, Tenn. Then I later got involved make it to the game. So I strive to describe the action as if they were in radio sales and high school sports in Clarksdale where the Imes fam- sitting in the stands themselves.” Cristil is also more involved in other job duties than just calling a ily owned the station.” Then just five years after Cristil got into the business, he applied game. There are pre-game interviews and post-game interviews, not to 28 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Photo Courtesy Mississippi State University
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 29
mention the countless coaches’ shows he hosts during the week. But for Cristil, the “highlight” of his day is when the scoreboard clock starts. “There is a lot of planning and organizing that takes place,” said Cristil. “You have your pre-game routine and post-game routine. But my highlight is the actual game and broadcasting what is taking place.” While Cristil has been a favorite voice to MSU fans, and SEC fans for that matter, he also had his favorites growing up as a young child. “I grew up listening to the Bill Sterns and the Graham McNamees of the business,” said Cristil. “They were the pioneers of the business, the Lewis and Clarks, if you will. I always appreciate and have a great respect for what those guys did without the great technology we have at our disposal today.” Considering his long tenure in the MSU press box and radio booth, Cristil has formed many friendships with his peers. “I thought the world of Caywood Ledford, a Kentucky radio legend,” Cristil said. “I thought of him as the best in the field. Then there was Paul Eells who broadcasted for Arkansas and later on at Vanderbilt. And you had Jim Fyffe of Auburn who was a good person and a good friend. “You knew the guys that worked in the same field, and you saw them in passing from time to time. Naturally, we were always working at the same time so you saw their faces in passing.”
Photo Courtesy Mississippi State University
MAKING ADJUSTMENTS Since 1953, Cristil has been surrounded with a variety of coaching personalities. But fortunately, he said, adjusting to different faces and names is never an issue. “I have been very, very fortunate,” said Cristil. “I have worked with several different coaches and we’ve never had a clash of personalities. You learn a lot now with the different methods of different coaches. But they’ve always been 100 percent cooperative and made it a joy to work with them. And you manage to become good friends with a lot of coaches over the course of those many years.” Like the college sports’ atmosphere, the SEC has undergone several changes – most for the good of the athletic landscape. Regardless of the fierce rivalries on the playing field, Cristil has cherished the way he and his workers have been “welcomed” at opposing venues. “We are fortunate to be in the Southeastern Conference where all the facilities are firstclass and top-shelf,” noted Cristil. “Other SEC institutions always make us feel welcome and are always gracious. They all exhibit a great level of courtesy and professionalism.” Cristil also commented on the kind words he receives on a daily, and yearly, basis. His job is to put the fan close to the action, and 30 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
convert the action from his eyes to their ears. And he appreciates the feedback that lets him know of a job well done. “It is very gratifying to me that the vast majority appreciate the way we handle broadcasts and the job we do,” said Cristil. “You are not going to please 100 percent of your listeners or please everyone 100 percent of the time. But you never hear from those folks that are not satisfied, and maybe that’s a good thing. “But I know I am always satisfied with the job our crew does, whether it’s producing a game in which the Bulldogs win or in defeat.” While Cristil has experienced many changes in college sports, he has also witnessed numerous changes in Mississippi State’s campus and athletic facilities.
He credits former MSU head coach Ron Polk for the rise of SEC baseball, as well as other athletic officials in his past. “One really has to give credit to a lot of people for the evolution of Mississippi State athletics,” Cristil remarked. “With a budget always close to or at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference, this institution has consistently given their athletes the best available. And this athletic organization has provided some of the best facilities. Coach (Ron) Polk made the Southeastern Conference step up and recognize the sport of baseball, much like the way Coach (Adolph) Rupp did at Kentucky in the sport of basketball.” Not only has the university improved the athletic facilities, Cristil admires the direction
Photo Courtesy Mississippi State University
taken by the school’s athletic staff. “This university has used the help from alumni, supporters and friends very intelligently,” said Cristil. “My hat is off to all the athletic directors that have come through Mississippi State and their ability to use funds wisely. “At one time, Humphrey Coliseum was one of the best arenas in the Southeastern Conference. Now folks have built ones that are larger but it is still a wonderful building and with greatly added improvements. And take Davis Wade Stadium: it is the right size for our supporters. Our athletic officials understand there is not a need for a 100,000-seat stadium. But for now, 55,000 seats gets the job accomplished the same.”
CALLING HISTORY As much as the players and coaches them-
selves, Cristil’s call of monumental MSU victories and title-clinching wins are fondly remembered by fans. And Cristil has a couple of his own favorite moments, and one not-so-fond memory. “There are certainly games that stick out for one reason or another or due to a set of circumstances,” said Cristil. “I believe the vast majority of Mississippi State fans fondly recall the 1980 win over Alabama in Jackson, winning that particular day 6-3 with the likes of John Bond, Johnie Cooks and Glen Collins and Glen Young. Then there’s the ‘74 game in Memphis where the Bulldogs came from behind and captured the victory with the twopoint conversion by Rocky Felker. “And believe you me, you never forget getting beat 74-0 that glorious day against the Houston Cougars,” he says. Cristil also recalls moments that have stood
out during his tenure of calling MSU basketball contests. “Many fans recall the memorable ‘59 season when the school won its first SEC championship in basketball, winning games late in that year versus Tulane and LSU en route to that title,” said Cristil. “You also look at the season in 1996, the year the Bulldogs ventured to the Final Four, knocking off teams like Cincinnati and Connecticut in Rupp Arena. “I believe Connecticut had the best team in the country in ‘96 but that group of Bulldogs just would not be denied.” Well before that special ‘96 Final Four run, Cristil broadcasted games in another very successful era of MSU hoops. What made that period special to Cristil was MSU coaching legend Babe McCarthy, who led the Bulldogs to a total of four SEC titles and a historymaking NCAA Tournament appearance in 1963. “I knew Coach McCarthy when he was the coach at Baldwyn High School and before he took over the Mississippi State basketball program,” said Cristil. “So that was a special situation for me.” Cristil has experienced many “firsts” in MSU sports, ranging from that ‘80 football win to the ‘96 Final Four appearance. But he also had the opportunity to experience a first in the SEC. In 2004, Mississippi State opened the gridiron campaign with the SEC’s first AfricanAmerican head coach in Sylvester Croom. Cristil enjoyed his days of talking with Croom, particularly getting an expert view on life in the National Football League. “I remembered Coach Croom as an allconference center at Alabama, a player who absolutely wore the Bulldog linebackers out and blocked as well as anyone these eyes have witnessed,” Cristil noted. “Then to later work with Coach Croom as a coach, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk pro football with a man who had been involved in the highest level of the game. I had never been closely involved with someone in the pro football arena and that was an excellent experience.” But through his Mississippi State radio career and all of his interactions with numerous coaches, there is one former Bulldog head coach that will always stick out to Cristil. And for obvious reasons. “My association with (former MSU football head coach) Rocky Felker is quite different from all the other head coaches,” said Cristil. “When I called baseball games in West Tennessee, his dad – Babe Felker – was the coach at Brownsville, Tenn., and they would play Jackson Central High School. So I knew Rocky when he was in the eighth or ninth grade. Then I had the opportunity to follow his career as a player at Mississippi State and obviously, later down the line as the head coach at Mississippi State. “I was fortunate enough to see the evoluMississippi Sports Magazine - 31
The Bulldog radio team of (l to r) Jim Ellis, Jack Cristil, & John Correro
tion process of Rocky with a front-row seat for most of his life. He is a man that always coached and played with great sincerity. That has always been a special relationshop and experience for me.”
HOW RADIO, AND SPORTS, HAVE CHANGED Naturally, Cristil has witnessed and observed a whole wealth of changes - in radio broadcasts and in collegiate sports. “The biggest change has been the technology,” said Cristil. “When I began my career, we had that little A.M. radio that was confined to where you placed the instrument. Now, with satellites, you can broadcast worldwide. You can listen or follow a game on your computer from Hong Kong or China.” During his five-plus decades calling football and basketball games, Cristil has also witnessed many changes on the gridiron and hardwood. “The nature of the games themselves have presented tremendous change and the athletes and facilities have also experienced tremendous changes,” said Cristil. “You take a look at football only. There was a time when a coach could only substitute two players at a time. Those players taken out of the game could not enter until the next quarter. Now coaches have specialized players for different 32 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
schemes, and some guys that are on the field for one specialized purpose. “Then, in the game of basketball, there was a time when only five players saw the floor. Now coaches sub in guys for different situations and you have the guys who only specialize in three-point shooting.” And understandably, Cristil has seen the athletes change in those two sports, as well. “When I first started calling football games, there was the old cliche’ of ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’,” recalled Cristil. “If you threw eight to 10 passes, it was a day of filling the air with the football. Now, coaches use the entire field and spread the ball around. They have guys that only play on certain downs, whether it be specialized guys on third or fourth downs.” Cristil added the same can be said for college basketball. “During my earlier days, the game of college basketball concentrated on getting the ball under the goal,” said Cristil. “Teams were geared around that concept. In this era now, the entire ninety-six feet of the court is used and three-pointers are shot from all over the court. “There are also more players involved in game strategy. Coaches have 12 to 13 players at their disposal and all are accustomed to bring a different look. The game is much,
Photo Courtesy Mississippi State University
much faster and the personnel is much more sophisticated.” This September, Cristil will begin his 56th season of calling Mississippi State football. He enters yet another coaching era and will broadcast the action from Dan Mullen’s first season in Starkville. When asked how much longer he plans to be in the radio booth, Cristil responded with what some might call “coach speak”. But who could blame Cristil for his approach concerning the remainder of his radio career? However, one thing will never change in the minds of Mississippi State fans.There has never been a voice associated with Bulldog football and basketball like Jack Cristil. “I am never one to give short answers,” said Cristil. “But I am in the fourth quarter and the clock is getting in the red, and I am trying to get it to overtime. I am now in the stage of my career where I don’t make long-term plans. I take it day-by-day. I know that’s a well-used cliche’ but that’s how it relates to this point of my life.” - MSM Paul Jones is the Senior writer for ESPN’s BulldogJunction.com and is a freelance writer in the Starkville area.
“Are You Ready?”
F E AT U R E - S H E PA R D S M I T H
Holly Springs native and Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is not afraid to show his love for Ole Miss and Mississippi on the world-wide airwaves. By STEVEN GODFREY Contributing Writer
op quiz: Name the alma mater of America’s top broadcast news personalities. Any of them: Brian Williams. Katie Couric. Lou Dobbs. Sean Hannity. Hands off your Google toolbar. Times up. Did you end up 0-for-4? Then try this one: Shepard Smith. Whether you’re a lifelong resident of the Magnolia State, a housewife in North Dakota or a Capitol Hill power player, if you’ve seen “The Fox Report with Shepard Smith” on cable news goliath Fox News there’s little deduction necessary to discover that its well-coifed steward of ratings success is a proud son of Holly Springs and an Ole Miss Rebel through and through. Most Mississippi viewers assume Smith must have either asked permission or begged forgiveness of Fox News brass to so brazenly hawk for the red and blue on national television. “Honestly, they’ve never really mentioned it,” Smith said. “Our boss [Fox News President] Rogers Ailes went to a state university, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and in general this company is a big supporter of state education. We’re not really filled up with a bunch of Ivy Leaguers and we know our audience is largely in the middle of the country.
“I just don’t feel the need to talk about USC. They’re great, they reload every year and they’re an absolute machine. But this season I feel like I’m in an alternate universe just being able to mention the Rebels in the same category, and that’s definitely news,” Smith said. “If you look at the entire landscape of college football, you can’t find a tougher division than the SEC West. That’s a national story. You have Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU who could go 1-2-3 in any combination, and three other teams right behind them. Don’t discount Arkansas this year,” Smith said. If Smith sounds like your average SEC football fanatic, that’s because he is. He’s got all the passionate opinions and encyclopedic knowledge of the game that is required for the distinction. On the highly touted 2009 Ole Miss football season: “You just can’t predict an undefeated season for any team in the SEC, ever.” On scheduling: “The best part about playing Memphis this season is that it will be the last time. We need to get back to playing Tulane every season and having Rebel fans on Bourbon Street.” On gameday attire: “I absolutely do not own a pair of red ‘Grove pants.’ ”
“I drag a new group of Yankees down there every weekend, and some of them, by the end of the weekend, are looking at buying a condo. So I guess I’m partially to blame for the reason that our wonderful little town continues to grow,” Smith said. We don’t play to New York and L.A., and our audience respects us for that.” The bi-coastal crowd surely got a distinctly Southern jolt of Smith’s brand of sports journalism on August 12, when Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples appeared on “The Fox Report” to preview the upcoming college football season. Sports Illustrated had just selected the Rebels to grace one of four regional covers for their annual preview edition. Sure enough, Smith had the Rebel version on screen and Staples never had a shot. Whereas most minute-long previews on a national broadcast would focus almost entirely on incumbent champion Florida, powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma and the seemingly legally-required mention of Southern Cal, Shep went totally red and blue, talking Ole Miss and only Ole Miss before jumping to a break. 34 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
But unlike your fishing buddies or your Methodist men’s group, Smith texts back and forth with Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, routinely flies in his New York media pals to Oxford for football, basketball and baseball games, and – oh yeah – he’s got one of the most watched news programs in the entire country. Far from an overnight rise, Smith left Ole Miss in 1985 to make the perilous climb up the broadcast circuit ladder starting in Panama City Beach, Florida and eventually bouncing around to Miami and Orlando. After reporting for the syndicated news magazine “A Current Affair” in Los Angeles, Smith joined FNC at its inception in 1996. Smith’s two programs, “Studio B with Shepard Smith” and “The Fox Report with Shepard Smith,” took off in viewership and helped the upstart news net trounce industry standard CNN in the late 1990s. FNC
F E AT U R E - S H E PA R D S M I T H
Photograph by Alex Kroke, Fox News Mississippi Sports Magazine - 35
“I loved what the Colonel Rebel was as a mascot, but I celebrate the fact that he’s in a museum now. We waste so much time arguing about a mascot or some stupid flag, but why not take a visitor to Ole Miss on a two-minute walk around campus. Go to the Lyceum, show them the bullet holes, walk them to the statue of James Meredith, explain why we thank God he did make his way though those doors,” Smith said. went on to establish itself as the number one most-watched 24-hour cable news outlet, and the product of Marshall Academy became a household name, broadcasting from the streets of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and, most recently, anchoring wall-to-wall coverage of the death of pop music icon Michael Jackson. Now commanding the kind of attention and salaries of his broadcast brethren, Smith has returned home as much as possible, establishing a second residence in Oxford for home football games and impromptu trips. “I drag a new group of Yankees down there every weekend, and some of them, by the end of the weekend, are looking at buying a condo. So I guess I’m partially to blame for the reason that our wonderful little town continues to grow,” Smith said. Outside of just Oxford, Smith has become a patron of the entire state, and found himself quietly justified about the changing perception of Mississippi following the 2008 Presidential Debate in Oxford. “The word is already being spread [among the rest of the nation]. Six months before the debate, I told my colleagues what they were in store for when they came to Oxford. I kept telling them, ‘This is going to be different than what you think about Mississippi, just wait. You’ll come away with a different feeling than what you expected.’ I know this crowd [of journalists]; I’ve been working with most of them for over 20 years, and I have to tell you, most of them were blown away.” Smith said. As for the bevy of hot-button topics, issues and imagery surrounding the culture of Ole Miss, Smith is very clear on his opinions on the school’s distinct place in history. “I loved what the Colonel Rebel was as a mascot, but I celebrate the fact that he’s in a museum now. We waste so much time arguing about a mascot or some stupid flag, but why not take a visitor to Ole Miss on a two-minute walk around campus. Go to the Lyceum, show them the bullet holes, walk them to the statue of James Meredith, explain why we thank God he did make his way though those doors,” Smith said. It’s unlikely you’ll see Williams cheering on Catholic University during his nightly NBC broadcasts. And could Couric even pick University of Virginia head football coach Al Groh out of a police lineup? But Smith’s torch-bearing for Ole Miss and the Magnolia State is unlikely to die down anytime soon. “The bottom line is that, yes, negative stories about Mississippi are going to be written. If Houston and his boys, God willing, make it to the national title game, those negative stories will still come. It’s a fact of life, it’s our history. [Mississippians’] lives and livelihoods were a lot more complicated than most other people in our nation’s history. We can’t change anything that happened but I really feel like the right message is there. When the message meets reality, we’re golden.” - MSM 36 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Photo by Mississippi Sports Magazine
(Top) Smith made sure he was not going to miss the 2009 Cotton Bowl matchup with Texas Tech in Dallas.
Photo courtesy Fox News
(Left) Shepard will be celebrating 10 years hosting “The Fox Report” in 2009.
Photo courtesy Shepard Smith
(Above) Shepard cheering on the Rebels with his dad David Shepard Smith, Sr. at a recent ball game in Oxford.
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Is this Terrico White’s last season as a Rebel?
BASKETBALL PREVIEW A look at Mississippi’s college’s and universities for the 2009-10 basketball season. OLE MISS: Terrico White is climbing up the draft boards. Will he stay? MISS. STATE: Will Renardo Sidney take Dawgs to “The Dance”? SOUTHERN MISS: Is this a make or break year for Eustachy?
INSIDE THE EGG BOWL RIVALRY:
BREWER VS. SHERRILL – SHERRILL VS. BREWER Paul Jones interviews former Ole Miss and Miss. State head coaches Billy Brewer and Jackie Sherrill to get the inside history of their heated rivalry. 38 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
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Mississippi Sports Magazine - 39
“Rube” F E AT U R E - M I C H A E L R U B E N S T E I N
If you’re under the age of 30 and a Mississippi sports fan, you probably know Michael Rubenstein as the erstwhile executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Jackson. But there is another generation that remembers Rube as unquestionably the most recognized and popular sports anchor the state has ever known. By Nash Nunnery Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
efore Sportscenter, Jim Rome and Chris Berman, there was Michael Rubenstein, whose deft and razor-tongued delivery of the day’s sports news garnered top-ratings for local NBC-affiliate WLBT from 1977-92 and made him an on-air Mississippi legend. Rubenstein was “discovered” accidentally one night while enjoying a beverage at George Street Grocery, the now-defunct watering hole and gathering place for media-types and state legislators. “I was sitting at the bar one night and a Cincinnati Reds baseball game was on the television,” he said. “I’m telling no one in particular that the pitcher was getting tired and maybe the manager ought to remove him. That led to a conversation with the guy sitting next to me.” The “guy” happened to be Hewitt Griffin, an engineer at WLBT. Griffen told Rube that he ought to apply for the vacant sports anchor position at the station. An audition at the WLBT studios was arranged to see if Rubenstein might be a fit. “When I got to the station, I don’t think they were really prepared for me,” he said laughing. “The cameraman had to fish a sports script from the previous night’s news show out of the trash.” 40 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Station management was not exactly impressed with the Booneville native’s audition performance. No offer was forthcoming and Rube kept his day job with the State of Mississippi while continuing to work as a late-night announcer on WJSU-FM. Then the story took an even more bizarre twist. According to Rubenstein, Griffin called him three or four weeks later while Rube was pulling a shift at the radio station, and encouraged him to speak with Channel 3 station manager Bill Dilday. “I go down there on a Monday and knock on Mr. Dilday’s door. He says, ‘What are you doing here?’” Rubenstein recalls. “What he didn’t know was that the guy they heard on WJSU was the same guy that had already been rejected for the job.” Rubenstein was hired. “A random set of circumstances led me to WLBT and fifteen years of anchoring sports in Jackson,” he said, shaking his head. The fifty-something Rubenstein enjoyed a bucolic childhood growing up in Mayberryesque Booneville. Typical of most of the small towns that dot the Mississippi landscape, Booneville was a community whose inhabitants loved
their high school sports. Games involving the hometown Blue Devils brought out the entire town. “I have fond memories of being a kid in Booneville,” said Rube. “My Dad, a Delta Jew, married my mom, a Delta Baptist, and we loved the area. It was a wonderful time in my life.” One of those memories involved Rube’s close relationship with Irv Feldman, a Booneville radio personality. “Irv Feldman was perhaps the biggest influence in my life. He was the sports announcer at WBIP and broadcast all the games at Booneville High,” he said. “I got great exposure to broadcasting at a very early age.” Feldman brought young Michael along as a statistician on broadcasts of Blue Devils games and Rube became a regular in press boxes and crackerbox gyms across northeast Mississippi. Road trips to hamlets such as Nettleton, Calhoun City or Fulton were a dream come true for Rubenstein, who developed his love and knowledge of the games with help from Feldman. After graduation, Rubenstein moved to Nashville and attended Vanderbilt University, where he majored in history, and not commu-
“I go down there on a Monday and knock on Mr. Dilday’s door. He says, ‘What are you doing here?’” Rubenstein recalls. “What he didn’t know was that the guy they heard on WJSU was the same guy that had already been rejected for the job.” Mississippi Sports Magazine - 41
nications. The road to his broadcasting career wasn’t paved by diction classes or television internships, but by benign subjects such as the French Revolution and the Ming Dynasty. Keeping a low profile in the Music City, Rube spent his free time waiting tables or tending bar to help defray expenses at Vandy. “I was fortunate to be able to get a Vanderbilt education and see great SEC sports most every weekend,” he said. “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at the time, and my hope was that my degree would lead to something when I got out of college.” With his Vanderbilt degree in hand, Rubenstein moved to Jackson in 1974 after being hired by the Governor’s Office of Education and Training. He enjoyed his work, and living in the Capital City was an added bonus. “I felt very fulfilled and was perfectly content. I fell in love with Jackson,” he said. Little did he know that a sports anchoring career lay on the horizon. Many credit Rubenstein with changing the face of sports broadcasting in Mississippi. Previously, television sports reporters and their print counterparts concentrated their efforts on the state’s Big Three universities – the SWAC and small colleges got short-shrift on the air and on the daily sports pages. When Rubenstein took over as WLBT sports director in 1977, Jackson State, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley suddenly became household names in living rooms across the Channel 3 viewing area. Rubenstein insists he wasn’t trying to make a social statement. “For years, the historically-black schools in the state produced so many outstanding players who went on to become superstars in the National Football League. Additionally, the SWAC schools provided us tremendous access to their programs,” he said. “If you looked at it from a business standpoint on the ratings side, it made perfect sense. “Forty percent of WLBT’s viewing audience was black – there was no social statement involved. Black or white, I think our audience deserved to hear about all the programs in the state and coaches like W.C. Gordon, Dave Whitney, Marino Casem and Archie Cooley,” added Rube. Relaxing in his museum office one recent morning, Rubenstein reflected on leaving WLBT for a huge multi-year contract he signed in 1992 with Love Communications. “I had done all I could do at Channel 3 and they basically told me I had topped out salary-wise,” said Rube. “Jim Love was very ambitious and had visions of a statewide cable news show that would begin at nine each night and beat the other stations. He hired me and we launched the show. “It lasted seven months and then went belly-up. But I give Jim huge kudos for honoring my contract.” Rubenstein is asked about the signature 42 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
Rube with Alcorn Senior QB Steve McNair strike the Heisman pose.
phrase that he sprinkled into most of his sports broadcasts. The phrase was used generally when he read a lop-sided score, such as “Delta State reamed, steamed and dry cleaned Arkansas Tech 64-10.” “Reamed, steamed and dry cleaned” defined a typical Rubenstein sports segment. He is proud to give proper attribution to the phrase’s origin. “Actually, I stole the line from the book Portnoy’s Complaint,” he explained. “The first 500 times I used it on the air, I gave the author (Philip Roth) credit. It seemed to resonate with people.” What resonates with Rubenstein is preserving the tradition and rich history of sports in the Magnolia State. Taking a stroll through the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum with Rube, a visitor is struck by his beaming smile as he ushers his guest through the treasure trove of sports memorabilia and exhibits. The pride in Rubenstein’s voice speaks volumes. “We opened in 1996 and we haven’t received one red cent of taxpayer’s money to run the museum,” he said. “There’s not another museum in the country, to my knowledge, that could make that claim.” Rubenstein and museum administrator Margaret Ferries White have been with the project from its humble beginnings. While the facility was under construction between Smith-Wills Stadium and the state agriculture museum, the pair shared a cramped office in a nearby state building. Rube chuckles, “We literally fished our desks and chairs out of a dumpster.” Despite all the fancy bells and technological whistles of the museum, two separate photographs still capture his attention after over a decade of walking the halls of the facility. One is an interesting photo involving Hall
of Fame inductee Hal “Sheriff ” Lee, who was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1974. The Moss Point native played seven years in the major leagues and averaged .275. Lee also starred in football and baseball for Mississippi College from 1924-1928. “For my money, the play at the plate in baseball is the most dramatic in sports,” said Rubenstein. “The cloud of dust, the catcher holding on to the ball and showing the umpire, the ump with his definitive statement of safe or out – the photo is simple yet reveals so much emotion in one shot.” The other picture is featured in the Ancestral Sports exhibit. It displays a Choctaw chieftain in full tribal dress at the turn of the century, with the text explaining the intricacies of stickball. Rubenstein revels in the moment while staring at the picture. No words are needed. Michael Rubenstein, former history major and sports anchor extraordinaire, is now keeper of the precious artifacts that tell the rich story of Mississippi’s sports heroes. MSM
MISSISSIPPI SPORTS LEGENDS
Robert Morgan Morgan had no idea that starting a little golf tournament in Hattiesburg over 40 years ago would turn into the PGA event it is today. By CARY ESTES Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
hen Robert Morgan graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in 1953, he was given the opportunity to request his preference for his first assignment. Morgan thought about all the possibilities for a few minutes and then wrote, “Embassy duty in Paris.” “I thought that sounded pretty good,” the 78-year-old Morgan recalled recently with a chuckle. “They asked me, so I told them.” Alas, instead of spending time strolling along the Seine River, Morgan was sent to work at a supply depot in Albany, Ga. But this “whynot” attitude paid off 15 years later, when Morgan was asked to be the director of a start-up professional golf tournament in his hometown of Hattiesburg. “I didn’t know anything about putting on a golf tournament,” Morgan said. “But like most young people, I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I don’t guess I had enough sense at that early age to be scared of it. I felt like, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’ ” And so the $20,000 Magnolia State Classic was born. More than 40 years later, the tournament – now called the Viking Classic – is still going strong. It has moved up the road to Annandale Golf Club near Jackson, become an official PGA Tour event and increased its purse to $3.7 million. Morgan was along for the ride every step of the way before finally retiring as the tournament’s executive director in 2006 (though he continues to serve on the Board of Directors). He turned an impulse suggestion to create a pro golf tournament in rural Mississippi into a four-decade long labor of love that landed him earlier this year in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. It certainly was not a path Morgan imagined taking while growing up in Hattiesburg and attending the University of Southern Mississippi. Morgan said he never played golf until he reached college, and he started then – with an old set of clubs he borrowed from an uncle – only because he felt it was a good way to spend time with potential future business connections. That apparently was a good decision as well, since Morgan went on to have a successful 25-year career in the food-brokerage business, and to establish the first Mini-Mart convenience stores in Hattiesburg.
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Morgan joined the Hattiesburg Country Club in the early 1960s, and in 1968 was elected president of the club. Later that year, a small group of members approached Morgan about having the club play host to a professional tournament. “Of course, none of us knew anything about pro golf,” Morgan said. Since he was more of a businessman than a golfer, Morgan agreed to the suggestion provided that the club would not be held responsible financially, in case the tournament lost money. The group signed a bank note stating that they would pay for any shortfall, not the club, and then handed responsibility for making the idea work over to Morgan. He had three months to prepare. Why not? “We didn’t have any kind of budget. We didn’t even know what to budget,” Morgan said. “We didn’t have a clue what we were doing.” Morgan took a group to Pensacola, Fla., to see how the tournament there was run. He then went to work recruiting players, securing sponsorship, selling tickets and managing the thousand small details that are required to make a golf tournament function properly. “We made a $1,500 profit the first year,” Morgan said, “and we still flew by the seat of our pants for several years after that.” One thing Morgan felt strongly about from the very beginning was the name of the tournament. In the days before corporate sponsorship, many tournaments simply took their name from the city in which they
were held (Greater Hartford Open, Memphis Invitational, etc.). Morgan, however, wanted his tournament to represent more than just Hattiesburg. He wanted the entire state to feel pride and ownership in the event. “I said it needed to be called the Magnolia Classic, because the whole thought process and intent from the very get-go was that this is a state tournament, not a Hattiesburg tournament,” Morgan said. “It should depict everything in the state.” During those early years, Morgan and his wife, Marilyn, often would travel the country to see how officials handled the operations at other tournaments. Morgan would pick up ideas at various sites and bring them back to Hattiesburg. One early idea that fascinated him was the concept of selling access to enclosed “luxury” boxes surrounding the 18th green. Morgan discovered there was just enough room on No. 18 at Hattiesburg Country Club to build three such boxes. So with great excitement, he had them constructed. “I couldn’t sell them. Nobody was interested,” Morgan said. “I finally just opened them up and invited the public to sit in them for free.” As the tournament grew, Morgan found himself spending much of his time planning and working on the event. His family became heavily involved, with his children even driving courtesy cars for the players. He began recruiting hundreds of volunteers, and today the tournament has a computer list of more than 1,200 potential helpers. Morgan never anticipated that he would spend so much time as tournament director. He kept expecting to step down, but with the near-constant growth there never seemed to an appropriate moment to walk away. “There never was a lapse in time from one year to the next that you felt comfortable in stepping down and getting somebody else to run it,” Morgan said. “One year meshed into the next year. And the next thing you know, it’s 40 years later.” Morgan was contemplating getting out in the early 1990s when the tournament suddenly was faced with the prospect of its most daunting challenge to date. In order to continue to grow, it was suggested that the event be moved to the larger city of Jackson. Now there definitely was not an opportunity for Morgan to leave anytime soon. “I told them that if we do that, we can’t spare any expense,” Morgan said of the proposed move to Jackson. “It has to be a real first-class event to be accepted the way we need for it to be accepted. “I said I would get them established up
there, and then we’d work toward getting somebody else to run it.” Which is exactly what happened … a dozen years after the tournament was shifted to Annandale Golf club in Madison in 1994. Not that Morgan was complaining. He loved the tournament, and the way it was able to overcome all obstacles. Sports Illustrated once called it, “The Little Tournament That Could.” Despite the small market and the lack of some of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars, Mississippi’s tournament continued to grow and prosper, even as others PGA events faded away all around it.
So why did it happen? This time, Morgan does not answer by saying, “Why not?” He believes he knows the reason. “I felt like it was because we always sold the tournament on the basis of this is Mississippi’s tournament. This is your tournament. And everybody bought into it that way,” Morgan said. “They felt like it was their tournament. They wanted it done right. They wanted it to represent them the way they wanted to be represented. “So they felt a very special interest in making sure of that, and therefore were willing to do anything they were asked to do. You could have a surgeon out there parking cars. I don’t remember ever asking anybody to do anything that they refused to do. That says a lot about the people involved.” And it is those people, and the tournament itself, that Morgan feels are truly worthy of induction in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. “To me, (the induction) meant honoring the event and the thousands of people who have made the event successful and made me look good,” Morgan said. “The volunteers, sponsors, charity members. People who have supported me individually. “So I looked at it from the standpoint that in honoring me, they were honoring the event. Because without the event, they wouldn’t have honored me.” That might be true. But without Robert Morgan, there might not have been a tournament in Mississippi for 40 years. And counting. - MSM
Volunteer Opportunities The Madison, Mississippi area is anxiously waiting for the 2009 Viking Classic and the PGA TOUR to arrive. Over 1,200 volunteers will be working behind-the-scenes to ensure that this event is a successful one. We would like to extend to you an invitation to become one of our volunteers. The positions range from assisting with parking cars to marshaling on the golf course. Our volunteer corps is a valued and critical element in producing one of the premier stops on the PGA TOUR. We look forward to seeing you on tournament week, October 26 – November 1! The following list of positions contains a brief description of the volunteer committees supporting the 2009 Viking Classic. Various committee openings typically become available prior to the tournament, but specific openings are not guaranteed. Several committees schedule mandatory training sessions prior to Viking Classic week in order to familiarize volunteers with their specific duties. DRIVING RANGE: Work on the range primarily assisting the professional. Responsibilities include cleaning and distributing range balls. MARSHALS: Enforce crowd control during tournament week, ensuring players safe and easy access from hole to hole and signaling the gallery to be quiet as players address the ball to make their shot. Select marshals will be responsible for operating a land survey type laser either in the fairway or on the green that will determine the distance of the shot from the tee of the hole. SCORING TRAILER: Responsible for running the scoring trailer located between #9 and #18 greens, including stocking #1 and #10 tee box with fruit and candy. STANDARD BEARERS: Responsible for carrying a standard sign with the walking scorer and professional. Must be able to walk all 18 holes. More information about Standard Bearers WALKING SCORERS: Walk 18 holes with the professionals carrying a Palm Pilot inputting scores and statistics. Scorers are in constant contact with the PGA TOUR staff via radio headsets. Must have some knowledge of golf and be able to attend a mandatory training session the week before the tournament. Visit www.vikingclassic.com or call 866898-GOLF (4653) for more information. Mississippi Sports Magazine - 45
As professors, they teach. As people, they care. When youâ€™re a college student, your time is invaluable. And your time is better spent when your professors genuinely care about you and your success. At Mississippi College, our faculty combines the best in academic and spiritual guidance, which means they take their teaching and their students very personally. find faith . find family. find your future.
RIDGELAND/MADISON 398 HWY. 51 N
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FLOWOOD PLAZA In front of Wal-Mart
BRANDON/PEARL 1490 W. GOVERNMENT ST.
MAYWOOD MART 1220 E. NORTHSIDE DR.
McDOWELL ROAD 717 W. McDowell Rd.
something successful ·
8 MACJC state championships, men’s and women’s soccer
· 10 out of the last 11 Region XXIII championships, women’s soccer · 11 Region XXIII championships including 5 consecutive state and regional championships, men’s soccer
Vicksburg Mississippi Sports Magazine - 47
A FULL CONTACT SPORT Duane Meilstrup of Brookhaven’s Mississippi Gym of Dreams is making an impact By DAVID CULPEPPER Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
s it is for most every person, there are defining moments and crossroads that determine who we are. The year was 1991 for Duane Meilstrup, a promising prep star from Meridian High School, with dreams of playing football for Mississippi College (MC) in Clinton, MS, made his way to campus. “Back in the day”, MC was a Division II powerhouse and was respected nationally for their athletics. The only bump in the road was that no scholarship was offered to play football. Meilstrup’s journey was about to come to a fork in the road and take a route that no one would expect, especially not Meilstrup. One day while on campus the sponsor for the JV cheer squad watched in the distance as the talented young athlete showed off his flipping and stunting ability with friends. Talk about a change in mind set and approach! Meilstrup, who once wanted to prowl the gridiron for the Choc’s was suddenly being offered a scholarship to cheer. A promising gridiron star? CHEER? In case you have not paid much attention to collegiate athletics over the past couple of decades, cheer has become a sport that has become a very competitive and nationally recognized activity, one that Meilstrup describes as “FULL CONTACT”. Cheer requires conditioning, balance and stamina. Meilstrup vividly remembers waking up with bruises and soreness as if he had just played a football game the night before due to being hit with elbows and knees while practicing routines. Broken noses, black eyes and broken bones are not uncommon to cheer. The fast track to his newfound success was closer than Meilstrup realized and would later determine his career. By January of ’92 the recently converted cheerleader was moved to the varsity squad with a national competition approaching in April. His taste of success came early as MC placed second only to Delta State in the competition. Meil48 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
MSU, SE LA, LSU, ULM, Jones Community College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Southwest MS Community College. As a huge smile comes across his face, he leans in and says, “You know, we have several right now, that if they don’t burn out and can avoid injury, have the ability to cheer at SEC quality programs.” I asked the coach, “What is the one thing that motivated you to overcome obstacles as a young coach and business owner”? He responded, “Early on in my coaching career someone told me that just because you were a great cheerleader and won National Championships doesn’t mean you can coach”. Meilstrup added that he tucked that statement away in the back of his mind and it drives him to be the very best at what he does. When asked what Gym of Dreams offers young people, his reply was in the form of a question. “What do you think your daughters have learned?” (Yours truly always thought that cheerleaders just stood on the sidelines and chanted while looking pretty; boy was I ever wrong!) As one who has seen the competitive cheer model up close and personal, I responded to his question, “More than money can buy!” Competitive cheer teaches young people about dedication, teamwork, stamina and respect for others. Sounds like great qualities to instill in young people. Meilstrup said, “You see all that is important, when you put 2530 students on the mat for the fastest two and a half minutes of their life; it is pretty amazing at what happens”. All 25-30 students must be at the right place at the right time: if one is coming out of a flip and someone else is too early or too late, the end result will likely be injury
Top: Duane Meilstrip owner of MS Gym of Dreams stunts former student and current LSU cheerleader Hannah King of Lawrence County, MS. Left: Duane was a member of Mississippi College’s three-time cheer National Championship squad.
strup and the MC squad won the national competition the following three years. That’s right: MC was a “Three-peat” National Champion. Fast forward four years: The newly transformed, talented cheerleader competed and won National Championships and is teaching his new love, cheer and gymnastics, in the Clinton-Metro area. One day after practice the new coach receives a call from two businessmen in Brookhaven, MS, who had just completed the construction of a new gym that would offer cheer and gymnastics. An older, more experienced Meilstrup recalls that he was so excited as a young energetic coach about the opportunity, but he knew that he had committed to a project several months back that he needed to fulfill. After a period of ten months Meilstrup had completed his obligation and was ready to move forward by going south to Brookhaven. The young coach worked for years as the Head Gym Coach at the new facility before the opportunity arose in 2004 for him to purchase the gym and become the owner operator of MISSISSIPPI GYM of DREAMS. The gym features five ALL-STAR cheer teams who compete throughout the Southeast several times a year, with squads performing at the highest level of competition, Level 5. As we sat in his office he reflected back to a time when he was referred to as the “Hot New Guy” when it came to choreography but now he said he is referred to the “Old Consistent Guy.” In the early years he was asked to choreograph routines for schools all over the Southeast, but as enrollment has grown his time is concentrated on Mississippi Gym of Dreams and their needs. As I asked him about some of his former and current students, Meilstrup came across as very humble about the fact he has had the honor of coaching several kids that have gone on to cheer at a higher level. Currently the gym has placed former cheer students at Ole Miss, USM,
Coach Duane watches and spots as a student tumbles.
or a failed routine, or both. Over the years the goal of the gym has been building young people’s lives so they can succeed in the future. Meilstrup has seen some extremely talented students excel in cheer and gym but says some of his greatest joys have been to watch students work hard, develop and become fearless competitors. As we closed our time together, I asked the still-inspired coach to sum up coaching in one word. “Rewarding”, he answered. When asked the same question about cheerleading he responded, “teamwork”. The former gridiron star, who dreamt of playing for the Choctaws, has no regrets about the path that lead him to cheer and gymnastics. “Coach Duane” (as his students respectfully call him) has no problem letting you know that his ability, the ownership of the gym and his beautiful family, are all due to God and His perfect plan. Brookhaven, Mississippi is a better place because of Duane Meilstrup. – MSM
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 49
HIGH SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT
CELLULAR SOUTH TO DEBUT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RIVALS “Y’ALL VS. US” PROGRAM Original Sports Programming Celebrates Rich Tradition of some of the Oldest, Biggest Gridiron Rivalries in the South
ellular South, a leader in wireless solutions and innovation, announced on August 10 plans for “Y’all vs. Us,” an integrated sports programming initiative that showcases the drama, passion, community pride and human interest stories around five of the South’s biggest high school football rivalries. The program, which begins in September, will feature live, professional-caliber prime-time television broadcasts of the five biggest rivalry games, a 10-episode television reality series following two rival high school football coaching staffs throughout the 2009 season and a five-episode documentary series telling the story behind each featured rivalry game. As one of the single largest and most comprehensive sportsrelated customer engagement initiatives undertaken by a company, the “Y’all vs. Us” program will also feature a wide variety of user-generated content, contests, games, new sports and education-related mobile web applications and interaction with social networking sites. Much of the program content will be housed in the “Cellular South Originals” section of the company’s online Discover Center, including video highlights of the rivalry games, the documentary series, the coaches’ reality show, user-generated videos, photos, blogs and more. “From marching bands, intense coaches and dedicated young players to cheerleaders, dance teams and pep squads, the ‘Y’all vs. Us’ program will explore the drama, passion and community pride associated with these rivalries and capture the many compelling human interest stories that come from this competition,” said Jim Richmond, director of corporate communications for Cellular South. Richmond said two key objectives of the program are to give parents, student-athletes, teachers and fans new and creative ways to interact with Cellular South while celebrating these faTHE STORY BEHIND SOME OF THE BIGGEST HIGH SCHOOL RIVALRIES. KICKING OFF THIS FALL. mous high school football rivalries and to raise awareness of cellularsouth.com/yallvsus Cellular South’s Gameplan education initiative for junior high and high school student-athletes. Rivalries to be featured this fall include the following five Cellular South is the nation’s first wireless carrier to launch a comprehensive sports-related matchups: customer engagement initiative focused on high school football rivalries in the South. n Clinton Arrows vs. Madison Central Jaguars – Sept. 25 at “We’re excited to partner with Cellular South to bring this rich, Clinton. compelling content to high school football fans,” said Leon Long, sen South Panola Tigers vs. Olive Branch Conquistadors – Oct. 2 at nior vice president of television for Raycom Media, broadcast partner South Panola. for the program. “The South has a long, storied tradition of being a n Oak Grove Warriors vs. Meridian Wildcats – Oct. 9 at Oak Grove. hotbed for more than its fair share of gridiron rivalries.” n West Jones Mustangs vs. Wayne County War Eagles – Oct. 23 at The 10-episode television reality series will feature Wayne County Wayne County. Coach Marcus Boyles and West Jones Coach Scott Pierson along with n Gulfport Admirals vs. Biloxi Indians – Nov. 6 at Gulfport. members of their respective coaching staffs and will focus on key play To bring the action to high school football fans across the region, ers, weekly game preparation and strategy, school activities related to games will be aired on NBC affiliates WLBT in Jackson, WDAM in game preparation and personal story lines. Hattiesburg and WMC in Memphis along with ABC affiliates WLOX Boyles has been one of the most successful high school coaches in in Biloxi, WABG in Greenville and WTOK in Meridian. Fox affiliate Mississippi during the last two decades and came off a stint as wide WLOV in Tupelo rounds out the broadcasting team for the rivalry receivers coach for Team USA in the 2009 International Federation games. Regional television broadcasts of the live games and five-epof American Football Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio. isode documentary series will be managed through Raycom Media Pierson has been head coach at West Jones since 2002 after a stellar Inc., a Montgomery, Alabama-based media firm that owns or operseven-year stint as head coach at 2A powerhouse Bay Springs. ates 42 television stations in 18 states.
T R I VALS S E G G I B E H T SOME OF U R DAY.
AT S N O Y A L P T ’ DON
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Cellular South got its inspiration for selecting the teams in the program from Jackson attorney X. M. Frascogna, Jr., who along with his sons Mike Frascogna, III and Marty, published a book in 2008 called “Y’all vs. Us” about 15 of the biggest high school football rivalries. The company then partnered with the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) to identify and recruit the 10 high school football teams that will be featured in the rivalries program. “Some of the biggest grudge matches aren’t always played on Saturday or Sunday in college and professional football games,” said Dr. Ennis Proctor, executive director of the MHSAA. “They’re played in high school football games and pit the collective community pride of entire towns and cities against one another for regional bragging rights.” Proctor has worked with Cellular South to promote the Gameplan, a statewide education initiative designed and funded by the company to inspire, prepare and inform the state’s 90,000 high school studentathletes about the possibilities of reaching their dreams through academic excellence. Several elements of the Gameplan will be featured in the “Y’all vs. Us” program.
all the related online and social networking media combine seamlessly to give Cellular South’s customers new awareness of their deep involvement in the community and a new way to interact with the brand.” About Cellular South Cellular South is a privately-owned diversified mobile communications company passionately committed to helping customers get the most out of their wireless devices and services. The nation’s largest privately-owned wireless communications provider accomplishes this goal by providing the most reliable and advanced 3G nationwide wireless voice and data network, offering industry-leading family and unlimited flat rate voice, text and mobile web plans, and through its online and in-store Discover Centers, which give customers easy, simple and convenient tools, tips, advice and information on how to get the most out of their mobile phone. For more information, visit www.cellularsouth.com. Additional information about Cellular South, Inc. and its products and services is available at http://www.cellularsouth.com. This Cellular South news release and other announcements are available at http://www.cellularsouth.com/news/. Or follow our news on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cellularsouth. Find us on Facebook at http://www. facebook.com/pages/Ridgeland-MS/Cellular-South/39645673822 to learn more about our wireless services About Raycom Media Inc.
Cellular South will feature compelling, original content on customer mobile phones as part of an integrated sports programming initiative focused on high school football rivalries in the South. Richmond said “Y’all vs. Us” will also feature a pilot program where Cellular South will create and host a mobile version of each school’s website, including logos, basic content like a calendar of events, club schedules, announcements and a special section to sign up for alerts in various categories, including those for parents, students, faculty and staff, football, basketball, performing arts, school booster clubs, bands and more. “Each school will have the ability to send alerts via mobile phone, text messaging or e-mail to individuals who opt-in from the mobile website or online via computer,” he added. In addition, Cellular South customers also will be able to access entertaining and dynamic user-games, contests, treasure hunts, quizzes and other exclusive content, Richmond said. The mobile section will be integrated with Cellular South’s online Discover Center, which will have sections under “Cellular South Originals” dedicated to all of the game matchups, the coaches show and user-generated content where individuals can upload their own videos and pictures. “We also plan to make available for download applications for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry device users, including rival fan pages and noisemakers,” Richmond said. The link for the “Y’all vs. Us” section of Cellular South’s online Discover Center is www.cellularsouth.com/yallvsus. Richmond said Young & Rubicam (Y&R), the company’s New Yorkbased advertising agency since 2008, was instrumental in helping create the “Y’all vs. Us” concept and will be executive producer of the program as well as develop an integrated campaign to drive awareness and engagement among customers and prospective customers. “We’re very excited about helping Cellular South engage their consumers in this dramatically different way,” said David Haughey, account managing director for Y&R. “The television programming and
Raycom, an employee-owned company, is one of the nation’s largest broadcasters and owns and operates 46 television stations in 18 states. Raycom stations cover more than 13 percent of U.S. television households and employ 3,500 individuals in full and part-time positions. In addition to television stations, Raycom owns Raycom Sports (a marketing, production and events management and distribution company in Charlotte); Raycom Post (a post production facility in Burbank, California), Broadview Media (a post production/telecommunications company based in Montgomery), and CableVantage (a cable advertising sales group based in Columbia, South Carolina). For more information, visit www.raycommedia.com. About MHSAA The Mississippi High School Activities Association is a non-profit, non-discriminatory association operated by the state’s secondary schools. The Association is responsible for academic and athletic competition among the 530,000 students in the state’s public and private schools, including debate, drama, speech, writing, music and 14 different types of sports. The MHSAA also is responsible for 4,000 officials and referees, who are registered and certified through Association clinics. For more information, visit www.misshsaa.com. About Young & Rubicam Y&R is one of the world’s leading marketing communications companies. Founded in 1923, Y&R was the first agency to be founded by, Raymond Rubicam. Today, the agency’s work spans the communications spectrum, including viral, interactive and ambient marketing, to build brands that are irresistible to consumers. Y&R has 186 offices in 90 countries around the world. Our clients are some of the world’s most prestigious global corporations, including Accenture, Bacardi, Campbell’s Soup Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Land Rover, LG, Xerox and Virgin Airlines, to name a few. Hamish McLennan is Global Chairman and CEO of Y&R. For more information, visit www.yr.com. - MSM
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Revealed: Secrets to Bow Bucks from some of Mississippi’s Best Bowhunters By JOHN E. PHILLIPS Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
hy do some bowhunters consistently take bucks, while others may miss theirs, not get shots, spook the bucks they’re trying to take or have less-thansuccessful bowhunting seasons? To find the answers to these questions, I’ve interviewed some of Mississippi’s best bowhunters. Little Things Make the Difference with Bobby Culbertson As the supervisor of Tara Wildlife near Vicksburg, Miss., Bobby considers identifying places where bowhunters can take deer as one of the most-important aspects of his job. We’ve asked Culbertson to name some critical keys for bagging a buck with a bow. “The more you know about the property you hunt, the deer and the food that the deer eat on that property, the better your odds will be for consistently taking a buck each season there with your bow,” Culbertson says. “We start scouting in February and March for the upcoming deer season in the fall to learn: n “The areas where big bucks stay during deer season. By going into regions after the season that we normally won’t enter during the season, we can see where the big bucks have held all season, and what trails they’ve taken to reach specific spots. With this knowledge, we can better place our tree stands for successful hunts the following season.” n “New sites to hunt. Since many bowhunters hunt the same sections of land every year, deer quickly learn where bowhunters will be and then avoid those places. We search for new tree-stand sites we’ve never hunted before every year during that time.” n “An inventory of the fruit and nut trees, bushes, shrubs and grasses that deer feed on and what’s available. Acorn trees don’t drop acorns every year. Too, different trees, bushes and shrubs produce fruits and nuts at various times of the year. If you keep records on the plum thickets, persimmon trees, nut trees, honey locust trees and other trees, bushes and shrubs on the property you hunt, you’ll notice that certain trees bear fruits and nuts on different years. Some nut trees will bear nuts every other year, some plum thickets will produce plums every other year, and some trees
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always will drop their acorns before other trees every year. “If you’ll inventory your fruit and nut trees, and keep a log of which trees drop nuts on what years, which trees are the first trees to drop nuts, which trees are the last to drop nuts, which plum thickets are dependable every year, and which honey locust trees produce every year and at what times of the year they begin dropping their pods, then in two or three years, you’ll have a wealth of information about what are the deer’s favorite foods, and when they’ll be available. This information will tell you where and when to place your tree stands during every phase of bow season to aid you in regularly taking bucks with your bow each year.” To keep-up with this inventory, use a handheld GPS receiver to mark the trees, the bushes and the shrubs that produce deer food as waypoints. Then before the season, go to that vegetation and note whether it has produced food and when. With honey locust pods, acorns and trees that drop fruit, you’ll need to note on what day this tree generally starts dropping its fruit. By placing this information into your computer, after two or three years, you’ll have accurate readings of where you can expect to find deer foods, and when’s the most-productive times to hunt around those food sources. Culbertson also reminds everyone of another seemingly small thing that makes the difference in your success – never hunt with a
bad wind. “If you have a great tree-stand site where you’ve set-up a trail camera, and you know the bucks are using that trail, the food source to which they’re traveling and the bedding area, but, on the day you plan to hunt that spot, you have a bad wind, never hunt the stand. The wind will blow your scent in the direction from which you expect the buck to come.” Five Things You Need to do to Take More Bucks with Jason Johnson Jason Johnson of Tylertown, Miss., has served as the president and vice president of the Mississippi Bowhunters Association. A pro-staff member for BowTech, Diamond Archery and Ross Archery, Johnson also writes for several bow-hunting magazines and makes the recommendations for more-productive bow-hunting. n Remember you’ve only got one shot. “Many things can go wrong from the time you release that arrow until it hits the deer,” Johnson explains. “To prevent as many mistakes as possible, I believe a bowhunter needs to practice shooting all year long, not just 2 weeks before bow season arrives. Even if you only shoot five arrows a day, you’ll drastically increase your odds for taking a buck this season if you shoot every day. Then you’ll know when you draw-back and put that pin sight where you want the arrow to go, that you should be dead-on a deer.”
n Scout year-round. “Most bowhunters scout the week before the season starts, put up a few stands and think they’re ready to bow-hunt,” Johnson says. “But my hunting buddy, Shane Johnson, and I start scouting at the end of deer season and we hang the stands that we plan to hunt in by the last weekend of July. We also trim shooting lanes in June and July to give the woods plenty of time to settle-down before deer season opens. I can hang my tree stands at the end of July because I’ve identified where I’m planning to hunt. I know where the deer’s food sources are, and the deer’s travel routes, which are usually influenced by terrain or food.” n Plant iron clay peas early. “I plant iron clay peas in my food plots in July,” Johnson reports. “These peas produce so-much preferred food for deer during the first 3 weeks of bow season. Then I’ll also plant rye, clover and/or Mossy Oak BioLogic products. However, many people overlook the importance of planting those pea patches for early bow season in Mississippi.” n Use trail cameras to save time and scout more efficiently. “I believe every bowhunter should have three to five trail cameras setup to pattern deer and feral hogs before bow season begins,” Johnson advises. “Then I can learn not only when and where I can expect a buck to appear but also before the season what kind of buck I can anticipate taking once bow season arrives. The trail cameras keep me from wasting time hunting regions where I won’t see deer. I like Moultrie’s 4-megapixel trail camera, and the features you get with it are hard to beat for the price. “I use the trail cameras at two-different times. Just before hunting season, I put them on the travel corridors to see which bucks are using what trails at what time of day or night. But before the season, when feeding deer is legal, I’ll put corn out and place the trail cameras on the spots where I’m feeding the deer. Then I can get an idea of how many bucks I’ve got and what size bucks I’ll have to hunt this season. You have to carefully follow the state regulations and take the corn up at the proper time. (Check Mississippi’s most up-to-date state regulations or ask your game warden). But, you can use the corn to help you inventory your herd. Armed with this knowledge before the season, you can decide whether that six point is the biggest buck on the land, or if you ought to let him go and wait for that 10 or 12 point that you’ve seen on your trail camera when you’ve been inventorying your herd. The trail cameras will also give a good idea of what the property’s buck-to-doe ratio is.” n Prepare mentally to take the shot for the buck of a lifetime. “Even if a doe’s coming toward your stand 25- to 50-yards away, most people don’t realize how excited a hunter can get just before he or she draws the bow, when he draws the bow, and then when he finally
releases the arrow. If you don’t prepare for that moment, often you won’t pick the spot on the deer where you want the arrow to land, and you won’t put your pin sight there. Instead, you’ll just draw back, glance through the sight, see hair, and release the arrow. You need to go through specific steps to calm yourself down and prepare yourself mentally to take the shot. “As a teenager, I’d put a small heart sticker on the back side of my bow riser. Then when I drew the string back, I could see that heart sticker, which would remind me to aim low and for the heart. When a bow-hunter misses a deer, generally he or she has aimed too high. Ninety percent of the misses that bowhunters make go in the no-man’s land above the heart and vitals and below the spine. I’m convinced you need some type of reminder to help you remember how, when and where to aim. If you aim at the heart and miss, you’ll still get a double-lung shot.” Bow-hunting Success Afield with Patrick Taylor Patrick Taylor of Grenada, Miss., a member of the Mississippi Bowhunters Association, has gone into the woods since the age of three, has bow-hunted for 20 years and averages taking two to three bucks every season with his bow. Taylor tells what bowhunters need for success afield. n Having confidence “You have to be confident you can make the shot when you see the buck you want to take,” Taylor explains. “I’m as confident with my bow as a gun hunter is with his gun. I know that I’m accurate out to 60 or 70 yards with my bow and practice at those distances. Therefore I know I’m capable of delivering a lethal shot on a deer out to 70 yards. However, I much prefer to take the shot at 20 yards or less. But by shooting the longer ranges, I know that if I consistently can put the arrow in the kill zone at 60 or 70 yards, a 20- or 30-yard shot will be super-easy. Shooting long distances builds my confidence for taking a buck at shorter distances. “At most of the places I hunt in Mississippi, I’ll rarely if ever have to take a 70-yard shot. However, if I’m hunting a bean field or food plot and need to take a shot that far away, I know I’ve got the ability to deliver the arrow. I also understand that if I get a pretty-good hit on a deer, and it stops at 50 to 70 yards and presents me with the opportunity for a second shot, I can get that second shot in the kill zone.” n Using scent control As Taylor mentions, “If you’re scent-free, you drastically increase your odds for taking deer. I use all the Hunter’s Specialties’ scent-elimination products from Scent-A-Way, but I also hunt only with a favorable wind. I won’t hunt a stand, regardless of how much I believe a big buck will show up at that stand, if the wind’s not right. If I climb into a stand, and the wind’s questionable or
swirling, I’ll leave that stand.” n Scouting intensively According to Taylor, “I scout year-round and believe that’s critical to my ability to regularly take bucks. I’m thinking deer 365 days a year. I start shed hunting after the season. Then I begin using my binoculars to look for bucks, and I spend as much time as I possibly can out in the woods. I can look at a tree and tell you what kind of tree it is, what type of acorns it produces, and whether deer like those acorns or only will eat them if they don’t have access to anything other foods. You must have a thorough knowledge of the food sources available to the deer at certain times of the year, know where those food sources are located on the property you hunt and understand when you can expect the deer to use those food sources.” n Practicing low-impact hunting “I don’t want the buck that I’m trying to take to know that I’m hunting him,” Taylor reports. “On any property I hunt, I don’t ride a 4-wheeler. I walk as quietly as possible, unless I’m retrieving an animal I’ve taken. Even if my stand site is a mile away, I’ll be walking to that stand site instead of riding. I also try to take a route that prevents me from crossing deer trails or interfering with deer movement. Of course, I can’t take these kinds of routes 100% of the time. I want to leave the woods as undisturbed as they were when I’ve arrived.” n Using quality deer management “I harvest the number of does I need to take off my hunting land and provide quality food for the deer year-round there,” Taylor emphasizes. “I try to take only older-age-class bucks or cull bucks. I keep food in my food plots yearround. If I have a 6-point buck in front of me or a mature doe, I’ll shoot the doe every time. As many does as we have in Mississippi, I believe that all responsible hunters need to make a strong effort to take their limits of does every season. The more deer you take with a bow, the more confident you’ll get in your ability to take deer with a bow. So, taking every doe that you legally can harvest will build your confidence in bow-hunting. Then when you get the opportunity to shoot a really-nice buck, you’ll have the confidence to make that shot.” n Having multiple stand sites “At one time, I exclusively hunted public lands and had multiple stand sites on every piece of that property,” Taylor explains. “But now I’ve got several good private properties I hunt. On each section of land, I make sure I’ve got stand sites that I’ve got confidence in, so regardless of which way the wind’s blowing, or what the weather conditions are, I’ve got a stand site that I can hunt where I believe I can take a nice deer.” These tactics have proven successful for some of Mississippi’s best bowhunters. Incorporate some of these strategies into your own hunting plan to see your odds of taking a deer increase dramatically this season. - MSM
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 53
Photo courtesy Keith Benoist
Kayak Mississippi By Keith E. Benoist Special to Mississippi Sports Magazine
he first canoe race on the Mississippi River of which we have record took place in the summer of 1543 between Spanish Conquistadors, plying their way on a handful of hastily constructed rafts, and a native population of canoe rowing warriors, bent on destroying them. It was a race between life and death, as the failed DeSoto expedition, somewhere near present day Natchez, Mississippi, paddled, rowed and flailed about for their lives on seven small ‘brigantines’. In opposition to them was an armada of Indians, churning the waters in, “. . . a most handsome fleet of more than a thousand canoes,” according to translations of The DeSoto Chronicles. For eleven days the Spanish brigantines manned by DeSoto’s survivors were assailed by stone tipped missiles, loosed from archers stationed in the canoes. Each canoe, carved from a single poplar, pine or cypress trunk, forty or more feet in length, was reportedly capable of carrying from seventy-five to eighty individuals, half of whom rowed while the other half picked away at their fleeing targets from a safe distance. It was said these canoes could reach speeds, “exceeding that of a fast horse,” and in the battle which ensued, the well organized fleet of Indian craft dispersed into three contingents which repeatedly circled the Spaniards’ small flotilla, pressing their objective with unrelenting, withering fire. It was the intent of the Indians to kill every one of the Conquistadors. It was the intent of the Conquistadors to simply survive this nightmarish passage down what at the time they referred to as the Rio Grande, to the Gulf of Mexico. Few did survive, though among them was one Captain Gonzalo Silvestre, whose account was transcribed some fifty years later by Garcilaso de la Vega, who had never set foot on American soil. Understandably, the accuracy of this account is somewhat suspect, yet for all that, it is what we have. Nearly 460 years later, another race involving canoes on the Mississippi once more crossed over the stretch of river descending from Grand Gulf to Natchez. On a crisp fall morning in 2002, the first annual “Great Mississippi River Kayak Race” took place, though on a somewhat smaller scale. Eleven paddlers in a hodgepodge of canoes, kayaks and “poke boats” heralded what had
54 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
for years been simmering in my mind. As a heavy smear of fog began to dissipate near 9 a.m. on the morning of October 12th, Peggy Pierrepont dropped into the cockpit of her poke boat, proclaimed “I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers don’t wait for anything,” then shoved off from the port at Grand Gulf into a soupy mist, and our first annual “Great
and complete the course, and gain entry into the coveted “Order Of The Zeuglodon,” a high honor which all participants who finish the race are accorded. There are other rewards, of course. Hand carved trophies made by Phatwater veteran Roger Dunaway, of Monticello, Mississippi, will be presented to all first place finishers
Photo courtesy Keith Benoist
Mississippi River Kayak Race” was underway. Renamed the Phatwater Kayak Challenge in 2003, we’ve been underway ever since. This coming October 10, 2009 will mark the eighth annual running of the Phatwater, a 42.5 mile kayak and canoe race down the Mississippi River from Grand Gulf to Natchez. The Phatwater is now recognized worldwide as a serious downriver race, in a sport that is rapidly gaining in popularity. Downriver racing is loosely defined as a timed, point to point race on a river or stream or other watercourse which follows the current or main river channel downstream. Simple enough. The rules governing its conduct are broadly interpreted and loosely maintained, most of which have to do with boat classification, which can be tricky. Standards have been set, in the past, by the International Canoe Federation, but they are forever changing due to technological developments which continue to introduce new gear, boats, and the materials from which they are made, into the market. As for the Phatwater, though, the idea has more to do with the challenge and motivating people to engage in healthy living than with the racing component. And while it is true we have “professional” level paddlers and former Olympic athletes competing in the Phatwater, the Phatwater is a race for everyone. All ages, all boat types and all hairstyles. Of the 133 participants in the 2008 Phatwater, 90% were “day trippers,” just out to have a good time
in each boat class. Then there’s the “Sub-V Club” for all paddlers who finish under five hours. Each who do so for their first time will be presented an engraved Sub-V Swiss Army Knife. And for the elite level paddlers, there are cash prizes as well. We also award a $1000 prize to the first solo paddler who breaks the existing record on the Phatwater, which was set last October 11 by Steve Woods of Durban, South Africa, with a first ever sub-IV hour time of 3:54:00. And if you think the competition at that level is beyond most, consider that Steve’s buddy, Bev Manson, also of Durban, finished only one second behind at 3:54:01. So, for those who would claim the Phatwater isn’t exactly a “spectator sport”, I invite you to the ramp, at the end of Silver Street, Natchez UnderThe-Hill, this coming October 10, to see for yourself. As for those who aren’t the spectator type, who want to get into the fight, we’d love to count you on the starting line. Anyone can enter the Phatwater and give it a try. Our only requirement is that you travel the distance under your own power, and in your own boat (sorry, we have no rentals available at this time). And have no fear: we have safety boaters throughout the entire course, should a participant not feel up to the full challenge. Don’t worry. We’ll get you home safely. Furthermore, you needn’t worry about traffic
on the Phatwater the day of the race. The U. S. Coast Guard designates the entire race course a safety zone for the duration of the event, and no commercial traffic is allowed to move on the water until all paddlers have made it to Natchez. Translation: No barges or wakes to worry about. You can find out more about the Phatwater at our new web site www.kayakmississippi.com where you can read up on past races, view our photo gallery and sign up for our Phatwater Updates. You can also register for this year’s Phatwater, purchase Kayak Mississippi T-Shirts, Silver Pendants, Ball Caps, and a host of other products in time. You will also find links to classified ads for places where you can purchase new and used paddling gear, boats, paddles, and other long term projects Kayak Mississippi has in mind. There will be a blog to cover all aspects of the race, maps to Natchez and the put-in, information on shuttles, safety, and recommended gear lists and hotels. Finally, a bit about our charity. Kayak Mississippi and the Phatwater Kayak Challenge, LLC, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Our charity partner in Natchez is the local humane society. Since 2005, every year the Phatwater commissions Mississippi’s own Terry Vandeventer to build the annual Phatwater Bowie Knife, in remembrance of the original Bowie Knife legend born on a sandbar within site of Natchez. Each year the knife is sponsored by Mike Worley of Natchez, a highly regarded Bowie Knife collector and owner of Bowie Outfitters of Natchez. Each year for the past five years we offer a total of only 500 raffle tickets on the Phatwater Bowie, at $10 apiece. At the conclusion of the sale of these tickets, all $5000 is presented to the Natchez Adams County Humane Society. If you would like to purchase one or more Phatwater Bowie Tickets, please visit our web site and contact us. If you would like to make a contribution to the Phatwater, please contact us and we will provide you with a sponsors’ packet. Kayak Mississippi and the Phatwater Kayak Challenge are supported entirely by private donation. I’ve saved the best for last. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you this October 10, whether as spectators or participants, but in either case, you’ll all wind up in the same place: Natchez Under-The-Hill, where at the Under-The-Hill Saloon, the Phatwater ends and the rock-n-roll begins. So, think about coming to join us. We’ll promise you a good time and a safe passage down Ol’Man River, where the only arrows you’ll have to contend with will be on signs leading to the party. For more information Contact: Keith E. Benoist, Kayak Mississippi, 200 Dunkerron Road, Natchez, Mississippi 39120 (601) 4311731 www.kayakmississippi.com or email Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org. - MSM
Mississippi Sports Magazine - 55
TIME OUT WITH YOLANDA MOORE
You Can Make It!
Yolanda Moore Columnist
ave you ever been in a situation that makes you ask the question: Why am I here? You start out in life with big dreams of having a certain kind of lifestyle, living in a certain kind of house, having a certain kind of job, marrying a certain kind of man or a specific type of woman, and making a certain amount of money. You go about your daily routine planning and preparing for your future success and envisioning a life, for some of us, much better than the life your parents had or maybe even better than the one you had as a kid. You spend hours days and years working toward having what you consider to be the perfect life. And, then one day, tragedy strikes and shatters all of your hopes and dreams. You meet face-to-face with the toughest obstacle of your life and you must make a decision. You can look at the situation as a setback and allow it to make you quit. Or, you can be like Scott Rigsby and dig deep into yourself and declare that you are going to win. Scott Rigsby is a double amputee Ironman from Atlanta, Georgia. At 18, Scott was riding on the back of a pickup truck with some of his buddies after having just finished a landscaping job during the summer before he was getting ready to go to college. One minute he was laughing and joking and the next he was being dragged more than 300 feet by an 18 wheeler that had hit them. Scott’s life was immediately turned upside down. He immediately had one of his legs amputated and was rushed to the hospital to be treated for severe road burns. Ten years after the accident, at the age of 28, Scot had to have his other leg amputated. In between that time, Scott Rigsby underwent 26 operations. Scott became depressed and was addicted to prescription drugs. He had no money and at one point, he even had to sell his furniture just to pay his rent. He thought he had no future until one day, in 2005, he decided to change his life. Within a few years and against the most insurmountable odds, Rigsby became an athlete. Not just any kind of athlete: he became an Ironman. He first attempted the feat at the Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2006. Although he didn’t make it to the finish line that day because he crashed on his bike and was forced out of the race, he finished the bike challenge and made it through 12 miles of the 26.2 mile marathon run. Most people would consider that to be a win. After all, Scott had done what no other double amputee had ever done in the world before (and certainly more than some of us folk with two good legs). He competed in an Ironman competition considered to be the most grueling sporting competition in the world and completed half of it. The Ironman challenge not only tests your physical stamina but it also tests your will, and Scott Rigsby proved that he was not one to be easily broken. By the way, Scott cracked his vertebrae during the bike crash and it was after that when he decided to prepare for the World Championship Ironman in Hawaii. On October 13, 2007, after enduring the elements for 16 hours and 43 minutes, Scott Rigsby became the first double-amputee on prosthetics in the world to finish an Ironman distance triathlon at the 140.6-mile World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Rigsby used “swim legs” to navigate the difficult 2.4 mile ocean swim, “bike legs” to cycle 112 miles through the heat and gusting winds of the Big Island lava fields on a standard road bike, and “run legs” to complete the marathon segment in darkness and intense pain. Scott Rigsby turned his tragedy into a testimony of faith, determination, and belief in one’s self. His life is a testament to the fact that no matter how bad things get you can always recover from them. Adversities in life are inevitable. How you respond to those adversities are up to you. I have met so many people in my life who have inspired me with their amazing stories of overcoming obstacles to pursue their dreams. It makes me realize that not matter how tough life gets and no matter how hard my own journey to success becomes I can make it. The next time you hit a road block and you feel like giving up, think about Scott Rigsby. Look at your setback as a setup for all of the great things that life has in store for you. Be blessed! - MSM
Yolanda Moore is a Port Gibson, Mississippi native, a two-time WNBA Champion, author, speaker, and former Ole Miss Lady Rebel. Contact her at email@example.com. 56 - Mississippi Sports Magazine
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