The MC Baseball Team Hits a Wall, but Looks to the Future, Corey Rholdon, sports editor

The Mississippi College baseball team is looking to get past the “Dog Days” of the season. After starting the year 18-4, the Choctaws baseball team has hit a rough patch, going 4-5 in their past 9 games, but Mississippi College ace Chris Crosby and catcher Brandon Broussard believes the team will get back to their winning ways.

Broussard knows this team is more complete than in years past, and he hopes that will get the team out of this slump. “This year’s team gels a lot better than last year’s team. We have a lot of arms in our pitching staff this season. If someone is struggling, we have someone who can fill. Our hitters starting out in the beginning of the year were leading the conference in batting averages at .380, and we are pretty confident hitting the ball and scoring runs,” said Broussard.

A big part of the Choctaws’ success this season has been their pitching staff, especially the three starting pitchers, who have a combined era of 3.54. Crosby is one of the pitchers having an outstanding season, and he believes the pitching staff deserves more credit. “Our pitching staff has been pretty solid. I feel like a lot of guys do not get the credit that they deserve. Our hitters are good, and we have a really good lineup, but our pitching staff has been pretty good as well. We have Hunter Mullis who has been phenomenal for us this year; Zach Ingram has been doing pretty well; and our bullpen for the most part has been lights out. Every pitcher has his days, but for the most part we have been locked in and on,” Crosby said.

It helps a pitcher to know that they have a defense backing them up, and the MC team has a really good one. “Our defense is phenomenal. I am the type of guy that is going to pound the strike zone and attack the hitter, and having a defense behind you that is one of the best in the GSC makes it easier to pitch. We have the best outfield in the GSC. I have full confidence in my defense, especially behind the plate with Brandon Broussard. It is honestly a blessing to have a defense like we do,” said Crosby.

Broussard has been a quiet hero on the baseball team, as his leadership and toughness has built confidence for his pitchers. “That is our guy. Broussard has been a dawg for us all year. I can’t say enough good things about him. He has caught every single game for us, even though he has been banged up with a dislocated shoulder and all kinds of things. He is the best catcher I have ever had in my life,” said Crosby.

It is not just the starting few who are having a great year for the Choctaws, but the relievers too. “Brandon Kennedy is the first person that comes to mind as a reliever; he has come in and helped us out a lot. He throws a lot of strikes and gives us an opportunity to get outs. Austin Chastang has come in and thrown a lot of zeros for us as well. Our relievers have been really good this year,” Broussard said.

Mississippi College had a tough loss recently, when the team gave up 7 runs in the 9th inning to lose to Montevallo by the score of 12-11, but Broussard still believes in his relievers. “Ryan (Lane) is a very consistent guy for us, but he just had an off day yesterday and we still believe in him. Normally when we put him in that position he is going to perform well, and it is just baseball. So you live and forget,” Broussard said.

After a team meeting, Crosby wants the team to compete and bring it every single game. “I expect us to really bring it to people. We came out really hot. We kind of hit a wall these past couple of weeks, but we brought the team together and had some heart-to-hearts. I really feel like that is going to change our aspects and mentality for the rest of the season,” said Crosby. “We cleared the air. I felt like we did not have much closure as a team, and we needed to address some problems that we had with guys not playing up to par. We know we are a pretty good team, and we know what everyone is capable, of so we were just encouraging guys to believe in themselves,” Crosby said.

Mississippi College is currently in 6th place in the GSC with a record of 11-6, and the Choctaws can improve that record this weekend in a home series against Christian Brothers.

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Mississippi College Softball: A Championship Culture By: Sadie Wise

Mississippi College’s softball team has established a winning culture over the last few years. The team won the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Championship in 2016, and brought the Gulf South Conference Championship title to Clinton in 2017. As they approach the conclusion of regular season play, the Lady Choctaws have one thing on their mind: another championship.

Head Coach Brooke O’Hair has been at Mississippi College for over a decade, so she knows what it takes to build a successful program. “You always have to set that standard. Every year, that’s your goal: you want to win a championship,” O’Hair said. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to set the bar high for the incoming girls, and then you have the seniors who want to go out on top.”

One of those seniors is Kristen Gardner. “Winning last year was absolutely amazing. It was one of the best feelings,” Gardner said. She feels that the team really proved themselves in 2017. “We’ve got a target on our backs this season. People are coming after us more than they did last year. We definitely have to be more resilient every time we play,” said Gardner.

Gardner says the team’s No. 1 goal is to win a national championship, of course, but she explained the importance of working towards that goal with a “one game at a time” mentality. Gardner says she feels the team has finally gotten into their groove for the year. “We’ve really done a lot better about coming together as a team and are executing really well in all areas,” she said.

Being a transfer, Gardner says it really meant a lot to her that the coaches trusted her abilities coming from junior college. “My experience here has been amazing. The environment of the school and my teammates – everyone is so uplifting.”

So far this season, the team is 19-11 overall, with a record of 12-8 in conference play, with a stretch of GSC match-ups in the near future. At this point in the year, the coaches have been putting more emphasis on the little things. “Keeping everything fine-tuned is key,” O’Hair said.

Assistant Coach Leigh Streetman spoke about what it’s like for her to be a part of the softball family at MC. “Coming into a program where winning championships is normal is awesome; it really gives the girls a competitive edge. They know what they’re capable of,” said Streetman.

Looking towards the future, Streetman feels that the championship culture surrounding the Lady Choctaws is what enables the program to recruit top notch athletes. “Winning championships is what’s going to continue to give us the success that we want,” she said.

“The great thing with winning championships is that you get a lot of attention,” O’Hair said. “Every kid wants to be a part of a championship program. That’s what you dream of as a little kid.”

As long as The Lady Choctaws are able to continue to bring home the championship trophies, there may be a lot of young girls with dreams of wearing blue and gold one day.

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Choctaw Football Team Continues Spring Practices By Madison Brown,

The Choctaw football team began spring practices earlier this semester and is already making adjustments. Athletic Director Mike Jones announced in January that both Paul Rasmussen and Tommy Laurendine would join the Choctaw coaching staff as the new defensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Along with additions to the roster and coaching staff, the Choctaws have also incorporated new schemes to the playbook. Head Coach John Bland said the majority of their spring practices are spent learning the new plays and adjusting to different coaching styles. He said the players have accepted the new coaches well and “We’re seeing some positive things out on the field.”

Until last Friday, all spring practices were in preparation for the annual Spring Game scrimmage where the Choctaw offense battled the defense. Now, Bland said their attention will turn to staying in shape and keeping grades up, because the main focus for Choctaw athletics has always been academics.

A large portion of the team roster consists of transfers from around the country, so there are always adjustments to be made both on the field and in the classroom. “We’re gonna really focus on academics and hopefully finish this semester strong, so these guys can continue to be here and play football for us,” said Bland.

Colton Magee and Tiberias Lampkin are two seniors on the Choctaw football team this season. Both athletes transferred to Mississippi College during the 2017 spring practice season.  Filling the outside linebacker position, Magee said the Choctaws are working hard to “put the pieces together” on the team. Magee said that in his final season at Mississippi College he wants to finish strong. “The coaches have given us a new game plan, so we just want to keep getting better,” said Magee. He hopes that this season they will have a strong support system from the fans since the team has been working hard all spring. He said, “We’re gonna compete, and it’s gonna be a great time.”

For the senior running back Tiberias Lampkin, spring season practices are spent learning to adjust to the new offensive coordinator, Tommy Laurendine. Lampkin has enjoyed getting to work with Coach Laurendine this season at his new full back position. “He’s been really challenging me mentally by showing me a lot of things that I need to get better at,” said Lampkin. The senior full back believes the team is really “drawing together” this season by improving their game both physically and mentally. Looking forward to his senior year, Lampkin just wants some victories. “I can’t stress that enough because I know Clinton is tired of losing,” he said. He said a winning season for the Choctaws “would mean a lot to this community and a lot to me. I just want to win.”

The Choctaws will begin their fifth season under Head Coach John Bland this fall. With eleven total games during the 2018 season, the blue and gold will play six contests at home in Robinson-Hale Stadium. Their first game will be a non-conference matchup against the Clark Atlanta Panthers who defeated the Choctaws 32-29 last season in overtime. The Choctaws will face eight Gulf South Conference opponents and end the season in Cleveland, Miss., against longtime rival Delta State.

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Player Profile: Brenna Keller, By Carlie Prescott

 

Senior women’s tennis captain Brenna Keller hopes to leave a lasting impact on Mississippi College tennis, this being her last season playing tennis for Mississippi College. Keller said it is bittersweet for such a huge chapter of her life to be coming to an end.

Before coming to Mississippi College, Keller was in the United States Military Academy. She joined the MC women’s tennis team as a freshman and has worked tirelessly for the last four years to become the best tennis player she could possibly be. She said it has been an incredible journey being able to see how this team and each individual player has been able to grow over the past few years. “It has been a wonderful transformation going from the first year to this year – from average to dominant,” she said. Not only that, but, as a senior, she has been able to see what some of the younger players are capable of doing and how they can continue to be successful and lead the team in future years.

Keller said she is proud of the way the team has really been able to come together this year and “make it happen” on the court. She is proud to witness the confidence that each player has gained with every win they have achieved. She is proud to see all of the excitement expressed over their success. She said she is most proud of the way all of the girls have bonded together and have built such a special team. According to Keller, the team went from a team that expected a few losses in the season to a team that believed they could win every single match. They have been working extremely hard since day one, and she said their hard work is certainly paying off.

This season of tennis has been stellar, according to Keller, and it has been filled with nothing but joy. At this point, the team is still undefeated and for the program’s first time in history, they are nationally ranked at number 23 as a D2 tennis team.

Keller said the success of the team is partly due to the fact that they all feed off of each other’s attitudes and motivation. “A positive and well-functioning team fosters an environment for success,” she added. It is extremely evident that their positive attitudes and emotions have helped build up the team. She said it seems as though each individual player has been able to really boost their own confidence on the court, which feeds back into the positive atmosphere of the team as a whole. She added that apart from just having a successful season, all of the good vibes have really made this season fun and enjoyable.

As her final season comes to a close, Keller said she oftentimes finds herself thinking, “Wow, that was the last time I will play on these courts,” or “That was the last time I will compete against this team or that player.” Even though four years of great talent and experience or coming to an end for Keller, her impact on the team is something that will continue on past May 5.

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Mississippi College Baseball Team is on Fire, Winning 10 of Their First 12 Games. Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor

The Choctaws baseball team has gotten off to a hot start. The team has won 10 of its first 12 ballgames including 4 against ranked opponents. Mississippi College needed to get off to a good start this season especially after starting 2-17 at the beginning of last season. MC did turn their season around last year finishing 20-28. Coach Haworth say the momentum of last year’s team carried over this season.

“It was crucial, last season we were 2-17 to begin the year but our guys did turn everything around. This year we walked into it believing that at the end of last year that we can win ball games, and we are good enough to be in this league,” said Haworth.

A big reason for the Choctaws success has been their bats. MC currently has 8 hitters batting over .300. “Our ultimate goal is to reach base, then to manufacture runs. If we are up 10 nothing, or down 10 nothing; our guys are not allowed to look at the scoreboard and we are supposed to manufacture runs every single inning,” said Haworth.

Mississippi College first basemen Blaine Crim feels comfortable knowing that if he gets on base, that one of his teammates will bring him in. “I think everybody builds off of one another. We are seeing good pitches and we are not missing right now. I think we have a really good lineup, we are getting on base and letting the lineup work,” Crim said.

Crim has played third base most of his career at Mississippi College, but this season coach Haworth made a switch. Haworth decided to put Crim at first base and Billy Cameron at third. The switch has paid off, Cameron is hitting .400 with a team high 3 homeruns. “We are just trying to get all of best players on the field. Billy is a really talented third basemen with a lot of range,” said Haworth.

“It is something we talked about coming in, and I know coach really wanted me to play third and Blaine is an incredible athlete so I don’t think the transition was with me it was more with Blaine. He has handled it exceptional,” Cameron said.

These Choctaws are a complete team, while their offense is really good; their pitching staff has been dominant. MC has three good starting pitchers; Chris Crosby, Hunter Mullis and Zach Ingram. But it’s not just their starters, the Choctaws bullpen has also stepped up and closed games.

“Early on when we faced Lindenwood College we do not know how we were going to start those 3, but Crosby has really shown consistency on the mound and so has Mullis. Ingram had a banged up shoulder during the fall, so he has been trying to find himself on the mound. He has done that in his last two outings.” Haworth said. “Those guys have been getting us deep into the game, and letting our bullpen work because we have a pretty good bullpen and that is why we are able to finish off games,” said Haworth.

The baseball program has completely turned around from a few years ago. The team believes that is from their chemistry and selfish attitudes. “We have three standards that our guys live by, that is Faith, Selfishness and relentlessness. We are not going to be a selfish group of guys, we are going to take care of one another. We give our season to Christ,” said Haworth. “We have had two guys be saved this year, Coach Perez our assistant coach was baptized and we have seen things changed in our program, and that what we want to see happen to other people,” Haworth said.

Crim has seen that change of culture on the field too, especially since his first year at Mississippi College. “Drastically, first year we could never really put it together, and we struggled that season. Last season I thought the same thing was happening when we started off 2-17 but something clicked. We had a culture change and we started winning. We wanted to transfer that over to this year, and it did” said Crim.

Coach Haworth does not want his squad to get complacent, he just wants his team to play Mississippi College baseball “Don’t let success get into your head, we are out to prove that we are better than what we are. Once we get to a place that we figured it out, then we are going to start slipping and humbleness is going to set in. I think what we have to do is keep worrying about manufacturing runs, putting 0’s on the board and doing the little things right. Make sure we are doing this for Christ,” said Haworth.

Cameron sees a lot of potential with this ball club “We can’t try to do stuff too fast, or try to be players that we are not. We all have our role and the time we hurt ourselves is when we get out of that role” said Cameron. “This year we started strong, and we are going to finish strong too. I came here to win Championships, and I really do believe that we have the team to do it” said Cameron.

Mississippi College travels to face the Shorter Hawks in Rome, Ga this weekend before coming back home to face Lee University in the GSC home opener.

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Lady Choctaws Finding Their Groove As 2018 Season Gets Into Full Swing Josh Clark,

A season in any sport is kind of like a ball of clay in the hands of a potter. It may be solid in the beginning, but it’s got some obvious flaws. It may be rough, misshapen, or even unbalanced. But that’s why the potter is there to smooth everything out and turn it into a work of art.

 

The 2018 Mississippi College Lady Choctaws softball team is a lot like that blob of clay. In the beginning, they started out with plenty of kinks. But those kinks are quickly being molded out as the season goes along. And that’s exciting for the 2017 Gulf South Conference Tournament champions.

 

The Lady Choctaws started their season on Feb. 3, 2018 in the Southern Softball Showdown against Palm Beach Atlantic University. Here we are one month later, and it’s clear that MC isn’t exactly where many expected them to be at this point.

 

The softball team currently sits at a record of 7-7 including a 2-4 mark in GSC play. While that I not necessarily a bad spot to be, it’s not exactly the ideal start, especially for a championship-caliber team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.

 

“So far, we’ve had kind of a rocky start,” said junior third baseman Kristen Qualls. “But I think we’re finally getting it together and figuring out what we need to do, where we need to be, and people’s roles on the team. I think it’s coming together well.”

 

While this is an encouraging sign to hear, it’s also an encouraging sign to see.

 

When the Lady Choctaws began their 2018 season, the only consistent thing seemed to be their inconsistency. MC would win a game 8-3 and follow it up a few days later with a 10-2 loss. After going through some ups and downs through the first two tournaments of the year against non-conference opponents, the Lady Choctaws finally settled into conference play at the GSC Opening Weekend Festival.

 

But the festival ended up bringing even more uncertainty. The Lady Choctaws went 1-2 throughout the weekend and were outscored 25-13 over the span.

 

Was it time to hit the panic button? No, because there’s still over 30 games left in the season. But it was definitely a time to question just how prepared MC was to defend their title and reputation.

 

The Lady Choctaws then headed off to West Georgia where they dropped the set two games to one. The series loss turned out to be another frustrating step in the road of progress.

 

But that’s what it is all about: progress. The Mississippi College Lady Choctaws know that, and still believe that this season holds incredible potential.

 

“There have been a lot of highs and lows and a lot of ‘test’ for this team,” said assistant coach Leigh Streetman. “I think with that happening early on is going to push us through with GSC play and the remainder of our midweek games. We have enjoyed seeing the team friendships being formed and life of the team. This group is special and has no limits.”

 

That’s due to a few different factors. For one, the Lady Choctaws are still showing signs of being a great team on the mound, in the field, and at the plate. Their offense and defense are taking significant steps in the right direction with each passing game and turning up the heat.

 

“We are showing snippets of what we could do as a whole,” said Qualls. “I think that when the hitting becomes consistent for the duration of the season, the pitching and defense are there, and all of the aspects of the game are there, I think people are going to be surprised at what we bring to the table.”

 

“We have a great pitching staff, a great offense, and a great defense,” said junior pitcher Penny Nichols. “Once those come together, it’s going to be an amazing thing. We are going to explode and do great things in the GSC and hopefully win another championship and go further.”

 

Another promising aspect of their play this season is quite simply their leadership. Of the 18 Lady Choctaws on the roster, 11 of them are either juniors or seniors. That not only injects a lot of returning talent into the lineup, but also gives MC certain players to lean on in different situations.

 

“Both senior and junior classes play a huge role in leadership as they outnumber the underclassman,” said Streetman. “The younger ones look to them for guidance in certain areas. The upperclassman are the ones with experience in big games and allow the freshman and sophomores to grow and mature to prepare us for postseason.”

 

Qualls is one of those leaders as she is currently in the middle of her third season with the Lady Choctaws. Qualls is second on the team this year in homeruns, including back-to-back homers against the University of Montevallo in MC’s first GSC win of the season.

 

“Just trying to make sure everyone’s head is on straight,” Qualls said of her role as a leader in the dugout. “Sometimes, my head isn’t on straight and I have to take a step back and remember that I am a junior this year that has to lead by example and lead by what I say. [I’m] just trying to take these younglings under my wing and get to a championship.”

 

But there’s also a new crop of Lady Choctaws in the lineup that are chomping at the bit to help keep the MC’s tradition of success alive on the softball diamond. One of those is freshman second baseman Kayla Murphy.

 

“I think after getting to know each other as the season goes on and getting to grow as a team, there’s nothing that will be able to stop us at all,” said Murphy about the potential that the team has yet to reach.

 

And as we’ve seen throughout the history of sports, confidence can help a team dig into the fight as well.

 

But where will that confidence spawn from? It could come from the Lady Choctaws’ next matchup this weekend at Shorter University. Maybe it won’t show up until next weekend when they take on Lee University at home. Or perhaps it already spawned on Tuesday at Miles College.

 

MC picked up two decisive wins against the Golden Bears, and many Lady Choctaws are hoping that those wins will serve as the turning point for their season going forward.

 

“Definitely,” said Nichols in regards to whether the wins over Miles could help the Lady Choctaws turn a corner. “We saw things starting to come together there. Hopefully we put things together there and go from that point.”

 

There is still a long way to go before MC reaches the finish line on their 2018 regular season, and the Lady Choctaws have a lot left to prove. But that’s exciting for this new group that’s having fun with each other both on and off the diamond as they continue growing into a singular unit.

 

“We have a lot of crazy personalities on this team, but that’s what makes us special,” said Qualls. “I think that’s one thing that will lead us to a lot of success this year. That’s what we do: we have fun when we play and when we do that, we’re successful.”

 

“We have a ton of energy in the dugout,” added Nichols. “Everyone is up and crazy. It shows on the field too. Everyone has each other’s backs. It’s awesome.”

 

The 2018 Lady Choctaws are a lot like a rough ball of clay pulled from its container. Without a potter, they are nothing. But with the idea of progress serving as the potter, there is a whole world of potential on what they could become. And as the season goes along, they are quickly smoothing out and finding their shape.

 

“I’m excited that people are going to be upset,” said Qualls. “People are going to be shocked when we come back from 7-7 and we’re going to be successful and continue to compete.”

 

“The run will come,” added Streetman. “We just have to trust the process and know it’s still early. This team is special and when we show up we will be hard to beat.”

 

With a full slate of GSC opponents on tap over the next few weeks, all we can really do is sit back and watch as the 2018 Lady Choctaws continue finding their form. But that’s what makes the journey all the more exciting out at the MC Softball Complex. Let’s see just what this Lady Choctaw softball team can become.

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Strong Out the Gates By: Damon Wright

There is just something about spring time that gets everybody in a good mood. Whether it be the changing of the weather, the exciting feeling of spring break, or even all the midterms we will all do great on (okay, maybe not those). One thing is for certain though: Choctaw spring sports have started, and they have started hot. The baseball team is currently 10-2, the softball team is currently on a two-game winning streak, and the men’s and women’s tennis teams are off to 4-2 and 7-0 respectively.

 

The tennis team’s strong start can be attributed to the strong play of senior leaders on the teams, strong recruiting classes, and improvements from both 2017 squads. On the men’s side, senior captain Sanders Barrick talks about the mental fortitude of the team that has carried them throughout this hot start: “It’s more mentally, we have a bunch of seniors on our team; we have the skills and the seniors and just mentally being prepared and going out on the court and thinking we can win the match every time we are out there is a big thing for us,” said Barrick.

 

The GSC is strong in tennis, holding three nationally ranked teams in West Florida (#1), Valdosta State (#5), and Auburn-Montgomery (#22), but Barrick’s expectations and goals remain high: “We have a great conference in tennis and I think making it to the semifinals or finals in the conference would be a great achievement, and finishing third would be perfect … I think if we are third in the region we can make it to regionals.” Barrick, one of seven seniors on the team, has set selfless goals for himself and looks to leave behind an unforgettable legacy: “I just want to be a good leader for my team and I only play doubles so just winning every doubles match and getting that point for my team is a big goal for me … just making it to regionals would be a big stepping stone or even being ranked would be great legacy to leave on the tennis program,” said Barrick.

 

The women’s tennis team is off to an incredible 7-0 start to the season, including two wins over conference foes West Georgia and West Alabama. The Lady Choctaws have not only won, but relatively dominated their opponents, beating four teams by 9-0. Senior Brenna Keller commented on the team’s strong start to the season: “Our work ethic this season and practices on and off court has been a lot better and we have recruited a couple of new girls for this season and their added level of play has definitely helped increase our line up in general and we are all excited and confident and our first few wins just added confidence,” said Keller.

 

There are very few missteps for the Lady Choctaws, but Keller harkened on one small improvement that she would like to see across the team: “Comradery on our team, I think we are super close but we need to work on our cheering off court and working with our teammates … making sure every one is pumped up during matches and maybe getting a little more excited during the match,” Keller said.

 

Though the team is off to such a hot start, Keller knows that it is important to not get complacent, especially as conference play begins: “The work ethic off court is most important, we can’t let ourselves slack off, we have to keep the confidence and work ethic up, and keep everything up in practice and hopefully relay that to wins on court,” said Keller.

 

This year’s women’s tennis team boasts a bevy of talent, including five seniors who have made large strides since their first season at MC. Keller knows this strong bond and chemistry makes things on the court a whole lot easier for the team, especially with her doubles partner, Anna Marie Kimball: “We are both from Louisiana, so we knew each other a little before this. She is super fun to play with and is always pumped up for our matches and very consistent … we are all pretty tightknit; we go out to eat a lot, hang out, and go to movies and on the court, we just want each other to be successful and that really builds confidence,” The growth of the team from day one has been evident, and Keller believes she, along with the senior class, have left a legacy that can be built upon for the future: “I feel like we have grown as players and people and I feel like we would just like to leave a team that continues to get stronger and I would like to see them win just more and more,” Keller said.

 

It all starts from the top when it comes to both tennis teams. Coach Boteler, who has been at the helm for the Choctaws for twenty-one years, is respected by both squads and leaves a lasting impact on all his players: “Coach Boteler is definitely one of the greatest guys I have ever met in my life … he is the nicest coach I have ever met, probably the nicest coach on the campus; he is so understanding and has his priorities … if anybody has any issues, he is the first to step up and help … he has also helped a lot of people spiritually and overall he has had a great impact on everybody on this team,” says Keller.

 

Men’s captain Sanders Barrick also adds a little about Boteler: “He is the nicest man you will ever meet … he is just like a father or brother to everyone and is everything you need …. I remember walking into his office the first day and him hugging me and treating me especially kind and wanting to know who I was, and he does that to every player that walks in here.”

Both men’s and women’s teams hosted West Alabama last Wednesday. The men fell short to West Alabama, 4-5, while the women’s team extended their streak to seven wins by beating the Lions, 6-4. Both teams look to jump up in the rankings as conference play begins to ramp up.

 

 

 

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There’s a New Family in Town Madison Brown, Contributing Writer

Tommy and Shawna Laurendine are the newest additions to the Choctaw coaching staff at Mississippi College. Individually, the Laurendines have a lengthy resume of coaching experience, but Mississippi College is only the fourth university they have coached at together. The husband and wife team spent six years as head coaches for volleyball and football at the Division III school, University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., before heading to Clinton, Miss.

Athletic director, Mike Jones announced in Jan., that the couple would be joining MC’s coaching staff. Shawna Laurendine is the new Lady Choctaws head volleyball coach. Jones said that the athletic department looks forward to her leadership because she “is very knowledgeable about the Gulf South Conference and knows what it takes to win.” Shawna brings with her 15 years of head coaching experience which includes nine in the GSC. A graduate of the University of Montevallo, Shawna has coached at a number of schools including West Alabama and former GSC member Southern Arkansas University where she was named GSC Coach of the Year.

Tommy Laurendine filled the offensive coordinator position for the Choctaw football team, and brings GSC coaching experience with him as well. Tommy spent time coaching multiple GSC football teams like West Georgia, West Alabama and former GSC member Southern Arkansas University where he coached with current Choctaw head football coach, John Bland. Bland is “thrilled about the opportunity to work with Tommy again” because he is “the type of high-character man we want representing Choctaw football.”

Moving for a new job in a new state was exciting for the Laurendine family, and the transition to Clinton has been smooth so far, but with two daughters, there were still some concerns. The hardest decision for the family to make was whether or not to move to a new house and city, again. Tommy said, “we had built a house where we were living 3 years ago, so just the moving aspect of it was hard. We knew after time though, that it would be worth it.” Because the majority of their coaching experience was spent in small towns, the Laurendine’s feel like they’ve moved to the city. “Our daughter’s favorite part about the move is that we have a Chick-fil-a five minutes down the road” said Tommy.

Aside from the chaos of moving houses, the Laurendine’s are excited for another opportunity to coach at the same university. While never coaching the same sport, Tommy and Shawna both spent time at West Alabama and Southern Arkansas University. Shawna said the transition from Sewanee to MC wasn’t difficult because she and her husband were able to work at the same place. “It creates a better culture for our family if everyone’s on board and we’re all with the same program and supportive of each other” she said. Tommy added that, “it’s been a blessing that we’ve been able to obtain jobs at one university. We’re fortunate.”

The transition to another school was not a new experience for the Laurendine family, but it did take time, and when the position for volleyball head coach became available, it extended the process even further. Tommy had been talking to Coach Bland for a while and arrived in Clinton two weeks prior to Shawna. He said he spent his first few weeks at MC “getting paperwork done and meeting coaches and players.” For Shawna, making the move mid semester was a new experience. She said starting practice and getting their daughter into school has been “a whirlwind, but now I feel like my heads above water and it’s been great.” Tommy said that even though the process did take a while “it was all worth it.”

The biggest challenges for the couple over the next few months will be finding balance and time management. Tommy said “we’ve always done a good job over the years of not taking work home. We rarely talk about football or volleyball at home unless it’s pertaining to our daughter’s playing volleyball.” What they’re most looking forward to is getting to know people, making new friends, and winning football games. We just want to enjoy our job” Tommy said.

Shawna hopes to gain the support of students and the community in the coming seasons. She said, “The volleyball team would love to have fan support in the fall.” She wants to see the bleachers full in A. E. Wood Coliseum next season cheering on the Lady Choctaws. To the football fans, Tommy asks for patience. He said, “I know how the Division II level works, and there’s a transition period, but we have some good coaches and we’ll get things going.” Mississippi College is one of the only private schools in the GSC so it’s taken time to progress, but Tommy said, “We’ll turn the corner here soon.”

Both Shawna and Tommy want Choctaw fans to know that as a family, they’re excited to be here in Clinton, and they’re looking forward to working with Choctaw athletes and coaches over the coming seasons. So, Choctaw fans get excited to welcome the Laurendine’s to the MC family!

 

 

 

 

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“Go Big or Go Home” By: Sadie Wise

A.E. Wood Coliseum just got a whole lot brighter. On Feb. 9, two new scoreboards were installed in the Golden Dome at Mississippi College. The boards have been a long-awaited upgrade, as the old ones had been up for almost two decades. The old boards included basic functions like keeping score and time, but now, there’s almost nothing the new ones can’t do.

There were two brand-new scoreboards installed in the coliseum, but the biggest upgrade is the one on the east end of the gym. The board, which is made up of several smaller LED screens, measures 16 feet tall by 26 feet wide and reaches across nearly the entire right side of the wall behind the goal, replacing the banners that once hung there.

David Nichols, the Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Communications at Mississippi College, explained that a new video board had been on the program’s “wish list” for a while, but it was just a waiting game when it came to funding. “We eventually had some people step up and say they wanted to help us out with this idea,” Nichols said.

Oscar Miskelly of Miskelly Furniture, and Bob Boyte of Bob Boyte Honda were two contributors in the funding of the new video board. Long time Athletic Director Mike Jones said, “Oscar was out here one day, and he asked me how big we were going to make it.” Jones said he told Miskelly that they’d make it as big as they could with the funding that was provided. It was then that Miskelly said, “We gotta go big or go home.”

“It took us about a year to get everything locked down on pricing, what we wanted, and how we wanted it, but once we did, we were finally able to pull the trigger,” Jones said. “We’re very thankful for Bob Boyte and Oscar Miskelly.”

As far as capabilities, the new video board can do a lot. “It’s a much more detailed board,” Nichols said. “We can keep up with the players who are in the game, how many points they’ve scored, and how many fouls they have.” Along with displaying more game details, the board also enables the program to run advertisements and show crowd interaction. “We have the capabilities to run just as much video as we want up there,” Nichols said.

Nichols also touched on the fact that the new board could be used as a recruiting tool. “We can bring recruits in, put their names up on the board, and make them feel welcome,” he said. Jones added that along with recruiting, the new video board will improve MC’s game day environment. “We haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg with what it can do and what we can do with it,” Jones said.

Nichols and Jones both feel that the new board will give the basketball and volleyball teams an elevated home court advantage. “We just want to create a really good environment for our players, students, and fans,” Jones said. “When other teams come in here, it’s definitely a wow factor,” he added.

Not only will this board be used by the Choctaw teams that play in A.E. Wood Coliseum, but there is potential for it to reach the MC student body along with the Clinton community, as well. “The thought is to eventually have movie nights in the coliseum using the new board,” Nichols said after explaining how they can transform the screen to play any type of video. “With the movie night idea, there are options for us to advertise them as fundraising events, it really does give us an opportunity to involve others,” Jones added.

We could be seeing some more upgrades to the coliseum in the future. “The long-range goal is to improve the seating on the upper level,” Jones said.  As far as a timeline, there really isn’t one. “All of these things are based on when we’re able to secure funds.” Jones explained that this applies to all the athletic facilities within the department, as they plan to renovate other facilities around campus in the future.

Both Nichols and Jones encourage the faculty, staff, and students of Mississippi College, along with the community to come out and see the new video board, and support MC’s student athletes.

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Really Big Rings for a Really Big Team by Corey Rholdon.

The Mississippi College softball team has built a foundation of success the past few seasons. The team won the NCCAA championship in 2016 and won the GSC tournament last season. The team has centered their culture on family and Christ, and that has helped them get through all of the ups and downs of the season.

This is Coach Brooke O’Hair’s 12th season as the Head Coach of the Lady Choctaws. O’Hair knows that many teams have talent, but not many of them have the chemistry to win a championship. “We try to build a family atmosphere, and we try to put Christ first. Since we have that strong foundation, all of the ups and downs of the season do not affect us that much. That is the main reason that we were that successful. Yes, we had talent; yes, we had the power and the speed,  but there are a lot of teams that have all of that, and the thing that sets us apart is that foundation with Christ,” O’Hair said.

Senior Kathrine Lee is the school’s all-time leader in stolen bases and hits in a season. Lee is the leader of the outfield, and she sees a team that loves to be around one another. “We held it together; we loved playing with one another. If you love being on the field with someone, then you are going to play well together,” Lee said.

Junior Kristen Qualls came from a championship program at Madison Central so she knew what a championship program was like before coming to Mississippi College. “I came from a winning culture in high school, and when I came here I wanted to continue to bring that winning culture to MC,” she said.

The NCCAA championship in 2016 wasn’t just the first softball championship for Mississippi College, but it was the first softball championship for the entire state of Mississippi. That is a historic accomplishment and it will always have a special place in Coach O’Hair’s heart. “It means everything, that national championship is the very first national championship in the state of Mississippi. So not only was it huge for Mississippi College and our softball program, but it was huge for the state of Mississippi,” O’Hair said.

No one expected the Lady Choctaws to win the GSC last season, even after a NCCAA Championship. It was Mississippi College’s first season eligible to compete for a title. But O’Hair and her squad did not care. “That one was sweet too, just because back when we were Division II, I was not a part of that – so being able to do that again and to go out in our first season of eligibility and win the GSC (which is the toughest conference in Division II) is amazing. Who would have thought that we would have done that in our first season? That was special because no one expected it but us,” said O’Hair.

All of these rings show how much progress the softball program has made over the years, and Qualls now wants a National Title. “It shows how much progress we made; we came from Division III, where we were successful, and went to Division II, where we have been successful. We just want to keep winning and showing people that we are good enough… so far, we have built up the winning and we are going to try to continue and go for a Division II ‘Natty’ this year,” Qualls said.

Lee sees her legacy beyond the diamond as something that could be special for years to come. “It builds a foundation for the future, and it shows that our programs are definitely something you should want to be a part of,” said Lee.

Every team is different, but this year, the Lady Choctaws will have a lot of new starters, but that doesn’t mean the expectations aren’t high. “They got a little bit more spunk in them, and we do not have anybody that is on our bench that couldn’t also start for us,” O’Hair said. “We haven’t always had that, so our depth is really good. So if we have an injury or someone is in a slump, we can go to the bench and not skip a beat. That is going to really help out this program this season,” said O’Hair.

The biggest thing young teams have to overcome is consistency and communication. The Choctaw veterans know this. “We have a lot of new people on the field, and we have to try to figure out how to play beside somebody and how to communicate properly, learning the system. With all the weather, it has been pretty difficult to work on the communication and work on the strategy,” O’Hair said.

“I think we are a very talented team. That is for sure, but our consistency is not there right now. We are going to get to a point to where the consistency is going to be there, and when that happens, we are going to be very successful,” Qualls said.

Now that the team has won the NCCAA Championship and the GSC Championship, they want a bigger prize; a National Championship. “I want another championship, and the key every year is to win a championship. Of course, it is not always a national championship. Last season we won the GSC and went to postseason play in Division II. Now it is all about going further in the postseason to work for that national championship,” said O’Hair.

The team starts GSC play early this season, so they will find out how much grit they really have. The Lady Choctaws will play in the GSC Opening Weekend Festival this weekend.

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One Final Game in A.E. Wood by Madison Brown.

Mississippi College held the men’s basketball senior night on Wednesday evening in A. E. Wood Coliseum. Four senior athletes and their families were honored before their last home game of the 2017-2018 season. Antonio Johnson, Otis Harvey, Xavion Dillon, and Ricky Breakfield joined their families in center court to be recognized in front of the home crowd.  Each senior has a unique journey that brought him to his final home game as a Choctaw.

Johnson is the only senior player that has been with the Choctaws all four years of his college career. He said that in the beginning, his experience was rough. The McComb native made an appearance in only 17 games his freshman year but worked hard to earn his current position as a starting player. “I had to get used to the speed of things and the coaches, but overall, it’s been a great experience,” he said.

Johnson’s mother passed away earlier in the season and emotions ran high during the halftime ceremony. He said that having the rest of his family with him to celebrate the night meant so much to him. “They support me in everything I do. We’ve continued to love each other even through such a hard time.”

Johnson’s favorite memories were made on the court at A. E. Wood Coliseum. He said playing for the home crowd is unlike anything else. With a great support system behind the team, the fans are what made his college career unforgettable. With all of his experience as a part of the Choctaw team, Johnson is a team leader and gives advice to the younger players on the team. He believes that the key to success for the future of the Choctaw team is “building team chemistry.” He hopes that in the coming seasons the team will make it to the playoffs and bring home a GSC championship.

For players like Otis Harvey, the Choctaw experience has been a little shorter.  Originally from Gulfport, Miss., Harvey is a transfer from Jones County Junior College. Harvey spent the last three years with the Choctaws, but missed most of his first season due to an injury. At one point, Harvey wanted to give up the basketball altogether, but decided he wanted to finish his career out strong. He said that during the time spent away from the sport he “gained a hunger for the game.” With only one game left in the season, he said the Choctaws are not giving up.

Xavion Dillon is from Tylertown, Miss., and a transfer from Southeast Missouri State University. Finishing his second year with the Choctaws, Dillon hasn’t seen as much playing time as the other seniors but has enjoyed his experience with the team just the same. “It’s been a long journey of ups and downs, but it’s been fun,” he said. He wishes luck to the Choctaw team in the coming years saying, “They’re young and talented. Going into next season, I expect great things from them.”

Ricky Breakfield is a walk-on from Wesson, Miss., and playing collegiate basketball was a lifelong dream. Breakfield made the decision to walk on for a spot on the Choctaw basketball team last year. Although he saw just a bit of playing time, he said his overall experience has been great. His time with the team has been short, but Breakfield said that it was easy to “click with the other guys” because of their different personalities. He’s grateful for the opportunity to join the team even though he spent the majority of the season supporting them from the bench. “God truly blessed me to get to fulfill this dream, and it’s been great,” he said.

Each senior athlete said that their best memories were simply spending time with their teammates. Road trips are the best way to form relationships that are key to having a successful team. With 15 games on the road this year, the Choctaws had plenty of time to bond. The team has one final road game of the season this Thursday night.  The Choctaws will take on GSC rival Delta State in Cleveland, Miss. Just like the last match up against the Statesmen, the Choctaws know to expect an intense game. These four seniors have given their all this season, and Choctaw fans can expect the same this week. The Lady Choctaws will tip off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the Choctaws at 7:30 p.m.

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The Golf Team: A New Contender; A New Threat by Sadie Wise.

The Mississippi College men’s golf team is set to start their spring season on Monday, Feb. 26, at Spring Hill College for the Badger Invitational. The team is coached by John McMath, who recently retired from the mathematics department at Mississippi College.

Over the last several years, McMath has seen many differences in the program since he began his coaching career here almost 13 years ago. McMath was asked by athletic director Mike Jones to coach the team, but under unique circumstances: “I was asked to help raise some funds to support a golf team for three years.” If the team could make it those three years on donated funds, they would reinstitute the golf program at MC. The efforts were successful. Almost a decade later, golf is a thriving program on the campus of Mississippi College.

Like many coaches at MC, one significant change McMath noted was the transition he witnessed when the Choctaws went from Division III to Division II. “Moving from Division III to Division II has allowed us to give scholarships.” McMath explained that he has had some good teams in the past, but there’s no denying that the GSC is a league that is very good at golf. Assistant coach and former Choctaw Ethan Doan said, “there are five teams in the GSC that are in the top 50 in the country,” which makes for some stiff competition for the Choctaws, who sit at 93.

Last spring, the Choctaws were successful, bringing home a road win from the Buccaneer Spring Classic in Southaven, Miss. They were also able to claim a victory at home in the Mississippi College Spring Invitational. Those wins last Spring have given the team the motivation to work toward the same – or even better – results this year.

Zach Anderson, a junior on the golf team, expressed his excitement for the spring season to begin. “We have a pretty solid team; we should be able to qualify for regionals,” he said. Anderson started playing golf at the age of 5, when his dad began taking him to the course. “My dad was kind of my coach growing up,” he said.

Anderson has a few personal goals for the upcoming season. “I want to qualify for every tournament and have a scoring average under 76,” he said. Anderson also emphasized the quality of the competition within the GSC conference, saying “everyone’s good.” Despite the steep competition, Anderson feels that his team is good enough to make it far and finish in the top five of the conference.

As for preparation, Anderson said that golf off-seasons are pretty short. “We end our Fall season in November, and we start practicing for spring around the third week of January.” During the short period of time that they do have off, the team does some resting and focuses more on their time in the gym. Once it’s time for the season to start, though, it’s all course work.

“Last year, the golf program had its best year yet,” Anderson said. He is completely confident that he and his teammates will be able to break more scoring records this season and win some tournaments. “When we became DII, I don’t think anyone really feared MC, but now that the coaches have done what they have, we are definitely contenders and we are definitely a threat.”

Coach McMath encourages everyone to come support the golf team later in the season as they host their spring invitational tournament at Lake Caroline Golf Club, in Madison, Miss.

 

 

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Former Mississippi College Choctaw is enjoying success in the CFL, by Corey Rholdon, Sport Editor

lylesFormer Mississippi College football star Chris Lyles is enjoying success in the Canadian Football League. Lyles signed a two year deal with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last May after he was released from the Indianapolis Colts rookie mini-camp.

The main goal for Chris Lyles is to one day reach the NFL, but for right now he is blessed and excited for his opportunities in the CFL. “I have one more season of my contract for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders because I signed a two year contract. So I want to finish my last season strong and the main goal is the NFL. That is where I am trying to go but the CFL has made me stronger, and it has made me appreciate the time that I am putting in. The good thing is that God is good, and if the NFL doesn’t work I could have a long CFL career” Lyles said.

Lyles played two seasons for the Choctaws where he had two interceptions and 7 pass break ups. He acknowledges that Mississippi College has helped him become the leader he is today. “Mississippi College taught me how to be a leader, someone who leads by example” Lyles said.

Professional football atmospheres are intense and it took Lyles a little while to get over that fear of playing in front of a huge crowd. “The first game I was really nervous. It was a preseason game against our rival the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was a sold out crowd, they had 30,000 people, and I have never played in front of a crowd like that before. I never have played in a quarter of the size of that crowd. I am not going to lie I was tickled, I was scared, I was nervous but that game really made a man out of me. It made me decide if I really wanted to play professional football or not” said Lyles.

Chris Lyles grew accustomed to playing in front of the “best fans in Canada”. It made him feel like he was playing in the NFL already. “Our environment is the best, we have the best fans in Canada. We had the best attendance in the CFL last season. That environment will scare you sometimes because how loud they are and how much they love you. At the same time they do not want to see you fail, they are behind you,” Lyles said. “I did real well in a game, and all these kids were screaming my name. They were like Mr. Lyles and I just gave them my gloves. I was like a hero to them and it was like playing in the NFL,” Lyles stated.

Canadian football and American football have some differences, and it took time for Lyles to adjust. “The field size in the CFL is a lot longer than American football. Formations are different, their receivers can move off of the line so I had to adjust. I had to use my brain more and it’s wasn’t about how athletic you are. It’s about technique. It is more of a technique type of game” Lyles said.

Lyles had to get out of his comfort zone in Saskatchewan, where he had to play the halfback position instead of cornerback. “In the CFL there is 12 guys on the field instead of 11, and I played a Nickle back or safety type position. That position is one of the hardest positions on the field. I was in that position because I was athletic enough and quick enough to play it. When I got there I had to adjust to the big field and there was a lot ground to cover. Halfback is a tough position but I like it,” Lyles said.

Adjusting to football wasn’t the only thing Lyles had to do. He also was adjusting to life north of the border. “Being so young and being so far away from home. It was tough but I had to adjust… The people were very different, it was a big variety of people, and at first I was uncomfortable because I did not know anybody. I really did not have anybody to relate to, but they still made me feel at home. They welcomed me with open arms” said Lyles.

His whole football career Chris Lyles relied on his athletic ability. Standing at 6’4 and weighing 194 pounds, Lyles was the perfect size for an NFL cornerback. His speed and athleticism is even more impressive. At his pro day, Lyles ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, had an 11’ board jump, and had a 39 inch vertical. But in the CFL Chris Lyles could not just rely on his abilities anymore, he needed to learn technique and become a student of the game.

“When I was in college I was so into my athleticism. I depended on my speed and my gifts for everything, but in the pro’s everyone is athletic and has talent. There is no way to beat someone without watching film and having great technique” said Lyles.

Lyles learned how to be a pro quickly, as professional practices are intense as they come. “CFL practices were very competitive and it is always the 1’s vs the 1’s. There was a lot of real game situations, and scheming against the other team” said Lyles. “We focused on their scheme and their key players. We watched filmed every day in the morning, and after practice. So it was film film film…” Lyles said.

If practices were hard, learning the playbook was even harder, as professional playbooks never stop growing. “The playbook was big. We changed plays after every week and there was a new playbook after every week. It was according to what the other team was doing, so one week we would be playing pattern reading, another week we would be playing man, and the next week we would be playing a cover 4/cover 2 type coverage” said Lyles.

In professional football, there are moments when you realize that you are playing against the world’s best athletes. Chris Lyles had that moment in his rookie season’s finale. “Last game of the season we played the Ottawa Redblacks and they moved me back to corner for the first time. There was a receiver who was really quick and fast. He gave me a welcome home, he was catching some passes and I said to myself that I need to “bow up” and I had to figure this out. I knew I couldn’t get down on myself, and I had to be strong” Lyles said.

After a moment like that, rookies can question if they belong in the league, but Chris Lyles remembered that he can play with these guys. He first realized that in the preseason where he stepped up when his team needed him. “It was the second preseason game and we played a great team called the BC Lions. We were in Vancouver we were getting beat kind of bad and our coaches were like we need someone to step up. Something went through me in that moment and I had my Father (God) with me. I made great plays, I had great tackles, forced fumbles and I had a real good game. That’s what showed me that I could play with the best” Lyles said.

Chris Lyles hopes his second CFL season is better than his first. His ultimate goal is to play in the NFL, and there has been a long line of CFL players who transitioned to the NFL. If Lyles keeps playing well, Mississippi College might have a Choctaw in the League.

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Choctaw Baseball Is Back And Hungry For More: 2018 Preview Edition By Josh Clark

A lot of words can be used to describe a baseball team that starts their season with a record of 2-17. Pathetic, sorry, and unimpressive could all fall into that category. But what about the word hungry or determined? That’s highly unlikely, right?

Well, the 2017 Mississippi College baseball team obviously wasn’t one for following standard procedure. After starting their first season as full-time members of the Gulf South Conference at a mark of 2-17, the Choctaws rebounded in a big way and worked their way to a final record of 20-28, including 15-17 in the GSC.

“Last year, we were living on results and fear,” said head coach Jeremy Haworth. “We had a meeting in the locker room and decided that enough was enough and that we needed to be all in. Whether we are doing terrible and suffering together or we’re winning together, you have to ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to be all in.”

The Choctaws finished the 2017 season on an incredible run and finished seventh in the conference. They advanced to the GSC Tournament and though they didn’t win it all, they left plenty of promise open for the future.

And that future is now. The Choctaws will start their 2018 regular season campaign on Saturday, February 3 with a three-game set against Lindenwood. After nine months of waiting to take that next step, it’s obvious that there is plenty of excitement surrounding the start of the season.

“It was awesome and I’m extremely excited to get going, especially since this is my senior year,” said senior outfielder Hunter Wilson about his offseason and his feelings about getting back to work. “I’m itching to get back out there with them since it’s my last one. I just hope it slows down.”

The Choctaws open this season with 11 straight games against non-GSC opponents before kicking off conference play in Carrollton against the University of West Georgia on Feb. 24. This season is promising to be a special one for a lot of reasons, but Coach Haworth is focused on one thing in particular: the team’s mindset.

“We’ve been doing something a lot different this year than we have in the past. We’ve always been result-driven in the past,” said Haworth. “This year, we really want to take it a little bit further of having our guys change a mindset of who they were and to really make it about doing everything in God’s name. That’s what we really wanted to focus on. So, everything we do is going to be done with our whole mind, body, and soul.

“We set standards for our guys: faith, selfless, and relentless. They have to live by those every single day. There’s been times where it hasn’t gone so well. But the deal is we learn to win together and lose together. That means when we do well, we all get to celebrate. When we don’t do so well, we fall at the same time. We’re learning that to be ultimately selfless in everything we do, it will help us be relentless going into the season.”

This new makeup and mindset is what Coach Haworth expects to drive the Choctaw baseball team through the 2018 season. And so far, it’s definitely rubbing off on his players.

“I really think that this team wants to make an impact,” said junior infielder Blaine Crim. “We just want to leave it all out there and give God the glory as much as we can. If we do that, there’s nothing really that we can worry about. If we leave it all between the lines and do everything we can, that’s all we can ask for. I think we have a bunch of guys who are willing and ready to do that. So we’ll see how it takes us.”

This Choctaws baseball team will offer plenty of new faces, including a few freshmen and transfers that joined the team over the offseason. According to Coach Haworth, these new additions could be the missing pieces that this team needs to make a serious push come early May.

“I think a lot of it is we’re filling in some holes offensively,” Coach Haworth said. “And don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a lot of success offensively here. But we have to keep that going. We’ve added some key pieces, like with Billy Cameron. He’s just a power-hitting third baseman that fills in that role that Chance Whitten left us with last year. But our pitching staff is the big one. We added some key pieces to the bullpen. We have guys that are your starters and are kind of like pace car guys. Then we feel like we have pretty good backend guys who can close out games for us.”

The Choctaws were picked seventh in this year’s GSC preseason poll and had three players selected to the preseason all-conference team: Hunter Wilson, Grant Barber, and Kyle Smith. The Choctaws are known for their offensive firepower, but struggled a bit with pitching last season. But even though none of the Choctaw pitchers made the preseason all-conference team, that doesn’t seem to bother MC junior pitcher Tommy Tabord.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” said Taborda. “All those guys show a lot of heart and they show that they want to be out there. Early on in the fall, we started off with a lot of injuries. But there were a lot of guys in the training room who were willing to get better and healthy. It just shows that they are dedicated and they are ready to buy in this year.”

The Choctaws will take on 10 different GSC opponents this season and have 30 different opportunities to claw their way up the conference ladder and make a run at the top spot. With the new recruits and new outlook, there’s plenty to be excited about for the Choctaw squad.

“The energy, for sure,” said Wilson. “I feel like the culture is starting to change. We come every day ready to work. There’s no lackadaisical efforts and everyone is on the same unit right now and ready to play.”

Wilson, Crim, and Taborda all mentioned the idea of beating as one heartbeat together as a unit this season and the potential that they can reach when they play with that synchronization.

“If we can get that one heartbeat mentality together, everything will play out and it will be fine,” Crim said.

This season is ultimately shaping up to be a special one for the Mississippi College Choctaw baseball team. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that they were in the cellar of the GSC standings and could not find their way out. But this season, not only do they have hope, but they also have a solid chance at making some serious noise around the conference and perhaps even in the College World Series. And for the team to accomplish that feat in Haworth’s third year as head coach would truly be something special.

“The culture is the biggest change for me,” Coach Haworth said. “The culture has gone 180 degrees. Just seeing guys step up to be leaders. It’s not all about the wins and losses; it’s about changing lives and being a man. I tell them all the time that God does not want their success, but rather their surrender. And once they figure that out, they will have all the success in the world. I think they’re starting to figure that out with being selfless.

“When I first got here, it had nothing to do with the team. Those guys have changed my life and the lives of the coaches, and we’ve changed each other’s lives along the way. It’s not about ‘me’ anymore; it’s what we can do for others. And that’s changed totally because of what the guys are doing out there.”

Last season was a reminder that all it takes is a little spark for a seemingly bad team to right the ship and make some noise. But now that the ship is back on track, where is it bound to go? A GSC title? Further? Now that the Choctaws have had a taste of the GSC spotlight, they are bound to want more.

“Just knowing that we’re able to do it,” Taborda said. “We didn’t really know that we could win that many games. We didn’t know that we could be good competition in the GSC. Now we have faith in that and have a lot more faith in our coaching staff and know that we can compete. Hopefully we understand at the beginning of the season that we can ride that wave and push on.”

Whatever the case may be, make sure to head out to Dickins-Scoper Baseball Stadium this spring and find out. Choctaw baseball is finally back, and it truly looks like the team has something special in the works. Chances are you won’t want to miss it.

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Donovan Ham’s basketball IQ and pedigree are helping the Choctaws take the next Step this season. Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor

donovan hamThe Mississippi College Men’s Basketball Team has gotten out to its best start since rejoining the GSC in 2014. A big reason for that is junior transfer Donovan Ham, who came from Georgia Highlands College. Before that, Ham played at Texas Tech. Ham averages 14.6 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 3 assists for the Choctaws this season.

Coach Lofton believes that Ham’s size, athleticism and basketball IQ make him stand out. “The biggest thing that he brings that we haven’t had here is size. He has got some length and is a good athlete. He can do a lot of things. He is a good ball handler, and he really gets into the lane and sets up our other players. We haven’t had that in the past and I think that is the biggest difference in our team this year compared to past years,” Lofton says.

Ham has great basketball pedigree in his family. Donovan’s father Darvin Ham played eight seasons in the NBA, won a championship with the Detroit Pistons, and is currently an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks. Donovan’s older brother, Darvin Jr., played at Northwest University, and his younger brother is currently playing high school basketball.

Lofton knows Donovan is going to play well each and every night because that is how he was raised. “His dad was an NBA player and is an NBA coach, so he gets that from his genes. What we have to do is play better around him, because I know he is going to play well for us,” Lofton says.

A big perk about having an NBA father is that you are always around NBA players. Ham notices a major difference in the mindset of NBA players. “NBA players have a different mindset. They are definitely more mature, and they just get it. It is a different type of mindset that they have. The players understand the game, the spots, how they need to score, and the execution and preparation.  The game is totally different from college,” Ham said.

“The role is the biggest thing. If you are a shooter you have to prepare before the game and get your shots up, or if you are a defender you have to come out with the intensity to defend. I always think about what I need to do before the game, and how I can execute and help the team win,” said Ham.

Ham’s teammate Junior Davy Fisher sees that focus and preparation in Donovan. “Donovan is an all-around good guy. He works harder than a lot of our players. He is not very outspoken, but you know he is taking it seriously and he wants the best for the team,” said Fisher.

“What I respect about him the most is how seriously he takes his practice outside of our team practice. The best thing I think Donovan does is take game shots at game speed. He does that over and over again,” Fisher said.

The biggest thing that Ham got out of being around NBA players and watching his dad play was that he got to fully understand the game of basketball. “Growing up I always used to watch him play, and seeing him coach has definitely given me a lot of wisdom in basketball. My basketball IQ — I am always seeing things before others do, and I see things that others don’t. I just understand the game both in offensive sets and defensive sets,” Ham said.

With several key players out for the rest of the season for the Choctaws, the team is going to need Ham to have the mamba mentality more than ever. “He is frustrated right now that our team lost some of our size and that has hurt us. He is trying to do a lot to try to carry us. He has to and we need him to. For us to have a chance to win, we have to have great production from him, and he has to score the basketball. He also guards the opposing team’s best player, and he does a great job at that,” said Lofton.

At the beginning of the season Ham did not see himself as a leader on the team, but as the season has progressed and Ham has gotten more comfortable at Mississippi College, he has become one of the leaders of the team. “At first I really did not see myself as a leader because we had three seniors, but as of now I see myself as a leader because people follow what you do, and always look at your body language. If you have a positive body language, then you could uplift your teammates and everyone is going to play just as good as you” said Ham.

Ham wants to play professionally when he has done his career at Mississippi College, but as of right now, he just wants to win. “I just want to win, and play as good as possible and help the team win. After that, if I am successful, hopefully I can play professionally, but as of right now, I am just focused on this season,” said Ham.

Ham says his family is what continues to push him forward. “My family is my motivation. I feel like I just have to be successful. My dad was successful; my older brother was successful; and my little brother is successful, too. So we have a successful family,” Ham said.

The Choctaws will play rival Delta State on Saturday, Jan. 27. Come out to support our Choctaws!

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“Ring By Spring” By Corey Rholdon

The Mississippi College Men’s soccer team started the year off with a bang, going 8-0-1 in their first 9 matches. Then the Choctaws hit a rough path going 2-2-2, but the team has turned back to their great play winning the last two matches.

MC defeated West Florida to open up the GSC tournament on Tuesday, and now onto the semi’s to play Alabama Huntsville. Head Coach Kevin Johns says the team got back to scoring goals, and as long as they keep scoring he likes their chances in the GSC tournament.

“To have a game like 6-0 (vs. Auburn Montgomery) hopefully it puts us right back in the frame of mind of scoring goals into the conference tournament. As long as we go out and perform well, do the small things correctly, and score goals we should be fine. I said this in preseason we will defend well, if we finish our chances that we get then I like our chances in the GSC Tournament” said Johns.

Senior Elliot Rimmer knows that the Choctaws have to do the little things to win in a tough conference like the GSC. “In this conference most games are decided by one or two goals and every game is made up of thousands of little moments and decisions. It comes down to which team makes the right decision and does the little things at the right moments” Rimmer’s said.

The Choctaws got rewarded for their good play this season, as 5 players got selected to the all-conference team. Jacob Farthing and Humberto Pelaez made first team all-GSC, which Victor Bazan, Horacio Gutierrez Jr. and Elliot Rimmer made second team honors.

Success like that is not only great for the players but the program as a whole. “It is a good mark for our whole program, not just those individual players because it takes good effort and we probably had a few other guys that could have got that award. It is good to see 5 guys get it, and it’s more of a mark of our whole team in our conference. We have a really competitive team and it says something for our program going forward” Johns stated.

Humberto Pelaez is honored by the recognition but he would like to see all of his teammates make it. “I would like to have all of my teammates on the list or in the first 11. It’s an honor for me, and it’s an honor for the program.”

Rimmer knows he could not receive this honor without his teammates. “It says a lot about the guys we play with, every day we come out and it’s a battle at practice. There is not a drop off in talent anywhere on the field. When we are having our squad games, the 1st 11 vs the 2nd 11 they beat us about half the time. So I do see why it shouldn’t be more than five, we have plenty of talent on the team” Rimmer said.

Now the team is ready to win the GSC, and Elliot Rimmer says this is what the program has been building towards. “This year is the culmination of for four years of building towards this. The women’s soccer team has a saying that we adopted call a ring by spring, and I would love to finish out as conference tournament champions and get that ring” said Rimmer.

Pelaez knows the team has the talent to win the GSC but it is all about attitude and mindset. “We know we are the best team, there is no doubt about it, our coach says it all the time, and coaches from other teams say it all the time. So if we have the right attitude and we perform we will win it easily” Pelaez said.

Coach Johns does not want to put the NCAA tournament chances in anyone else’s hands but the Choctaws. “We do not want to put anything in anyone hands outside of our own. Because the top four have a shot to go to the NCAA regionals, but we just want to win it. To us it is the championship game because if we win that we move forward if we don’t we are out” Johns said.

The Choctaws are currently ranked 4th in the South NCAA Regional. If the Choctaws win on Friday against Alabama Huntsville they would play the winner of the West Alabama vs. Montevallo game for the GSC Championship.

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Freshman vs. Senior Perspective on the Men’s Soccer Team! By Madison Brown!

With only the GSC Tournament left to play, the Choctaw soccer season is coming to a close. The men’s soccer team is made up of a select group of players from around the world that work together as a family toward one common goal: victory.

Grant Falla, a freshman from Hattiesburg, Miss., is one of the newest members of the Choctaw family. Previously a varsity player for the Sacred Heart Crusaders, Falla won two state championships during his high school career with his father as head coach. After being a part of the Rush Organization, Falla came to MC to play for head coach, Kevin Johns. “It’s definitely a unique situation playing for your father, but I’ve known Coach Kevin for a while now so it wasn’t a big transition.”

The biggest transition for Falla was when he moved from 1A high school soccer to becoming a part of a Division II college team. “I had to basically start over from the beginning and work to win a spot on the team,” stated Falla.  He now practices with the “top team” and looks up to older players on the field like Bastian Busch and Humberto Pelaez. As a freshman, Falla hasn’t seen much time on the field just yet, but he plans to have a bigger presence on the field in the coming years. “Right now, I’m just going to continue to work hard, continue to fight for a spot, and get ready for next year.”

One of 13 seniors on the team is Andrew Moore from Huntsville, Ala. Thinking back to his first year at MC, he remembers the nerves of freshman year. “I didn’t know anyone coming into a new environment and a new school. I was nervous, but I just wanted to prove myself.” After four years with the Choctaws, he’s much more relaxed around the team and on the field, and, as a senior, Moore takes on a leadership role. “The best way to lead is by example, so I make sure I’m working hard at practice and making sure no one takes a day off.” There are less than 40 players on the team, so Moore’s goal is to encourage the younger players by letting them know “you’re here for a reason.”

With only a couple of games left in his college career, Moore looks to see younger players step up to fill positions that will soon be empty. He says the team has a lot of candidates and strong leaders who can easily fill those spots. He expects to see the same high level of play from the Choctaw team over the next few years, but “the next step is to have a national presence and have a well-established MC program.”

Both Falla and Moore say that the best part about being on the Choctaw soccer team is their teammates. Falla says that even though “I’ve only been on the team for a few months, I feel like I’ve known them for so long. They’re a great group of guys on and off the field.” Looking back on his last four years at MC, Moore feels the same way. “My best friends are on the team. I’ll take those memories from practice and hanging out off the field with me for the rest of my life. They’re definitely my favorite part about being on the team.”

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The Perseverance of Kaitlyn Wilson! By Damon Wright!

Adversity is present everyday in our lives, from stressing over a big test to preparing for a big game, or even just deciding to go to class at 8 a.m. Challenges are presented in multiple ways, but it is how we respond to those challenges that make us who we are.

The Lady Choctaws have battled much adversity through the 2017 season, as the team has suffered multiple injuries throughout their first 24 games and have a new head coach. Former head coach Julie Redus stepped down on Oct. 6, and new interim head coach, Holly Tupper, took her place at the helm of the volleyball team.

It has been an adjustment, but Coach Tupper has enjoyed the new leadership. “There has definitely been some adjustment, just my role with the team … but it’s been something I have enjoyed and I get to learn as I go.” Tupper said. Senior defensive specialist Madison Kimes adds on to the switch at head coach, “A lot of changes have been happening so far, but it has been really good,” she said.

Throughout all the changes as the season goes on, players and coaches look to one player that drives them to be the best person they can be, and that person is redshirt freshmen Kaitlyn Wilson. Wilson is from Tupelo, Miss., and last year was diagnosed with Chron’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease which most commonly occurs in the end of the small intestine. Wilson could not play last year because of the disease and it was a difficult process during recovery and treatment. Wilson’s strong spirit and resiliency got her through the trials and tribulations. Wilson did not expect to be back so soon from Chron’s, “It was really hard last semester just thinking that I would not come back to school, much less touch a volleyball court, so it’s been a blessing, even though it hasn’t been my best expectation to how I would be, it’s still a blessing to be back at school,” she said.

Wilson’s attitude impacts the team morals as a whole, and also inspires others to live their lives the same exact way, “She’s the sweetest, most encouraging, and strongest girl you will ever meet … A lot of people are telling her she can’t play volleyball anymore because of her disease, but she still comes out, tries her hardest, and gets everything done. It’s just really inspiring and makes you want to work hard as well,” said Kimes.

Coach Tupper also gives her thoughts on Wilson, “It’s been really impressive seeing her battle on and off the court, overcoming adversity day in and day out showing up even when she does not feel well or it’s been a bad day for her. She shows up and is a great teammate and is committed to making the team better … I’ve been really impressed with her ability to persevere. She’s showed our team what it’s like to persevere and be mentally tough,” said Tupper.

Wilson has not only been an inspiration to her team and all of MC, but she is also hoping to spread awareness to those affected by Chron’s around the world. “It means so much to spread awareness because most people don’t know what Chron’s disease is. When I heard about it, I thought it was just for old people, like, ‘I’m 18, that shouldn’t happen,’ and it just means so much to spread awareness to try and find a cure since it’s not curable yet,” said Wilson. She also has some words for those currently fighting the Chron’s right now, “Stay strong, but also share your stories because most people don’t know about it, and the best thing for awareness and for people to stay strong is to have a support group. It’s definitely good to know people who have had it for quite some time now.”

Brave, strong, joy, and kindness are just a few words Wilson’s peers used to describe her, and she truly shows that by the way she lives and the way she acts. She truly leaves a lasting impact not only on her team, but anybody that sees her as an example of strength and perseverance.

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Men’s Basketball starts Preseason Camp! By Corey Rholdon

The Mississippi College Men’s basketball team opened preseason practice this week. The Choctaws have the four returning starters, which is the most of any school in the GSC, and Head Coach Don Lofton believes this is the team that will finally give MC respect in the GSC.

Lofton has been the head coach for the Choctaws the past 13 seasons and has been on the coaching staff for the past 33. Mississippi College struggled last season, going 7-19. Nevertheless, the team is returning three of the four leading scorers from last year.

Lofton believes that the experience his players gained over the past season will pay off this year. “We have four returning starters from last season. We have more depth than we had in previous years. We have a lot of experience, and that experience has not always been good. But that experience will pay off for us this year,” Lofton said.

Junior guard Antonio Johnson says the past two years have helped build chemistry with his teammates. “Experience is going to play a huge role; we know each other, we know what we like to do and how we like to play. We know where we like to catch the ball, and things like that,” said Johnson.

Johnson led the GSC in three-point percentage last year at 44 percent. But this year he wants to grow as a defender and as a leader. “Personally, I would like to fix my defense, and become more of a leader than I was last season.” Forward Stacy Mack wants to give the young Choctaws a road to success. “I want to give advice to the young guys, make a blueprint for them. This year, I now have a voice, being in my third year, it will be a real fun year,” Mack said.

The Choctaws will work hard on their defense this preseason, as they gave up 81 points per game last year. “We have been pretty good offensively but not nearly good enough defensively. We want to emphasize everything, especially defense. We really need to improve defensively. This Gulf South Conference is really tough, so we have to worry about getting better each and every day,” Lofton said.

MC had a really tough offseason, as they worked on their mindset, and always pushing each other. Mack believes that will help push the Choctaws to a new level this season. “It’s all about the mindset, Coach Quick really taught us that no matter how heavy the weight is, you just have to have that mindset to push through. I think that will do us good during the season when everybody is tired. Are you going to basically quit or are you going to keep playing when it gets tough?” he said..

Mississippi College wants to gain respect this season, and Coach Lofton knows it is not where you start but where you finish. “The next step is to gain some respect; there are 14 basketball teams in our league and we were picked to finished 12th. I’ve learned a long time ago, that it is not where you are picked but it where you finish. Hopefully we finish a whole lot higher than 12th. We expect to and want to. Hopefully this basketball team that we have can,” Lofton said.

Mack just wants to prove the Choctaws are a good basketball team. “We really have to prove ourselves. I know how much potential we have with this team. We’ve always had great talent; now we just need to put it together. I am looking to come out first — my expectations is to be first in the polls. I want to win everything. I just want to win, I will do anything it takes to win, and I honestly put my body on the line just to try to win,” Mack said.

The Choctaws start preseason play at Embry-Riddle on Nov. 10, in Daytona Beach, Fla.

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Running for Love! By Andrew Vaughn

A Facebook data science study, released last week, found that about 28 percent of married graduates attended the same college as their spouse. This will prove true for Mississippi College students Will Young and Hannah Chamberlain. The couple got engaged on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Clinton Community Nature Center.

Young had the proposal planned since this summer when he bought the ring. He even had purchased a projector and screen so that he could play a slideshow with pictures of him and Chamberlain, highlighting their relationship. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties, and the flash drive containing the slide show malfunctioned.

Young came prepared, but the back-up flash drive also would not work. Young’s mother, who was there to take pictures, saved the day, and she had the couple watch the slideshow on her phone. Even though some of the details did not work out exactly as planned, the happy couple is now engaged. They plan to get married in the Summer of 2019, after Young finishes his undergrad degree in Biology. Chamberlain’s major is engineering.

How did this couple meet, you might ask? The couple met through competing on the Mississippi College Cross Country team. Chamberlain came to MC in 2014 from Evergreen, Colo. She had been running cross country since her freshman year of high school. Not only a runner, Chamberlain spends her time with the Equestrian Team as well. Young came to MC the next year from Nacogdoches, Texas, where he was the 1-A Texas State Champion in cross country and the two-time 1A Track State Champion in the 3200 meters and 1600 meters.

As a premier runner, Young knew he wanted to come to a school where he could contribute to the team right away. Even though they both enjoy running, the couple does not necessarily like to run together. Chamberlain said, “Well, that’s because Will is so much faster than me. My normal run would be a slow jog for him.” Young did say they will run simultaneously, but even “though we run side by side, most of the time we’ll be running at the same time, but not really with each other.”

Congratulations to Will Young and Hannah Chamberlain!

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Choctaws sit a top of the Gulf South Conference! By Andrew Vaughn

About halfway through the season, the Mississippi College Men’s Soccer Team has yet to lose a match. They are sitting at the top of the Gulf South Conference with 7 wins, 0 losses, and 1 tie. The Choctaws are making a conscious effort to take the rest of the season one game at a time. While on a 6-game win streak, it could become easy to look ahead on the schedule and underestimate other teams. This is especially dangerous in a tough conference like the Gulf South Conference. Head Coach Kevin Johns has stressed the fact to his team that they need to play hard in every remaining game. “That’s the thing with our conference; everybody — even the teams at the bottom — can beat you. There’s only a goal or two separating those teams. If you have a bad game you can end up with a loss. You’ve got to be ready to play every day.”

Even though the team is focusing on one opponent at a time, both Coach Johns and Senior Goalkeeper Humberto Pelaez have identified West Alabama as a threat to the Choctaws repeating as regular season conference champions. Pelaez, the 2016 GSC Player of the Year, knows how good West Alabama is, as they have been a tough opponent all four years he has been at MC. “Our biggest threat to repeating as Conference Champs is West Alabama because they’ve been winning the conference for the last three years. They’re the target to beat.”

Even though West Alabama has a conference loss already, if they beat MC, they could take the top spot. Coach Johns knows it will be a tough final road game. “Playing West Alabama at West Alabama is always gonna be tough. They have a loss right now, but if they beat us, we are tied, and then they’d win the head-to-head. What’s going to end up happening is whoever wins our conference is only going to win it by a half game.”

As a senior, Pelaez is doing his best to be the best leader he can by having the lines of communication between freshmen and seniors open. “This is my fourth year here, but the chemistry (this year) is quite different. When you’re a freshman you can talk to the seniors. There’s not a barrier. Being a senior you know you have more experience, but they (freshmen) know they can come to you and try to ask you for help.”

Senior Elliot Rimmer is very confident that if they Choctaws focus and play their brand of soccer, there is no one they cannot beat. “Honestly, and I’ve told the guys this, I don’t think there’s a game we’re gonna play the rest of the season that we should lose. I don’t see us losing a game if we play our style — if we play disciplined, stay motivated. I don’t see a reason that we would lose.”

 

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Aneta Golawska: The “Polish Princess” on the Tennis Team! By Anais Eliseeva, contributing writer

Aneta Magdalena Golawska

Birth date: July 22, 1997

Height: 5’7’’

Class: Sophomore

Birthplace: Bridgeport, Conn.

Hometown: Gdańsk, Poland

 

It has been a year since a cheerful blonde Polish girl, Aneta Golawska, came to Mississippi College to study Public Relations and to play for the MC tennis team. “I came here from Poland, but I was born in Bridgeport, Conn. My parents came to America in their mid-twenties, but when I was four years old, they decided to move back to Poland, their home country,” said Golawska. “I have two older sisters and one younger brother and all of us have dual citizenship.”

Golawska started playing tennis when she was 10. “By looking at my older sister Ola, I started loving tennis and wanted to play too,” she said. Also, Golawska’s dad influenced her sport choice. “He likes tennis a lot, and he always wanted to play himself but never got a chance,” she said, even though Golawska admitted that it was her sister who inspired her the most. “I always wanted to be like my sister. I admire how she is and what she does,” she said.

According to Golawska, the best thing about tennis is how it helped her grow as a person. “Tennis is an individual sport, so I learned how to rely on myself. It taught me to work hard to reach my goals. If you’re not putting in all the effort, you can’t expect anything,” she said, “It is important to put 110 percent of effort, not even 100, into what you are doing.” As she noted, she usually plays more aggressive and offensive game.

The main thing Golawska used to struggle with in tennis was her explosive character. “I would do something and then think. I would get into an argument with an opponent all the time,” she said. “If somebody asks me what’s the score, and I think he said something wrong, I am ready to fight. Sometimes it brings issues to the court.” She also used to be very negative to herself for any mistake she made during the match. Golawska gave herself a boost for the upcoming season, which is “do not talk to yourself on the court.”

Golawska plays both singles and doubles matches in tennis. “I would say I prefer singles over doubles, because I am scared of missing a ball when playing with a doubles partner. I always take the whole fault on me,” she said. “In order to become a good doubles player, it is important to be understandable for the other, because you share a part of the court. You have to be supportive and cheer each other up all the time.” During the previous season, Golawska used to play on the first position on doubles, but then she decided she would feel more comfortable playing on the second position.

As for Golawska’s hobbies outside tennis, she likes to watch Polish movies and TV series. “Watching Polish soap operas is what keeps me positive. For me, this is the main thing to do when I am not in class or in practice,” she said. “It is so ridiculous, but I still like it. It is in Polish, and it shows places where I used to walk. When I am watching it, I feel like [I’m] home.” She also likes to spend time with her friends. For example, in the spring, they used to go on trips every weekend. “That kept me busy all the time,” she said.

“It is really hard sometimes to combine studying and tennis and to have enough time for each. Nevertheless, studying is the most important thing so it is important to put as much effort in it,” said Golawska. “During the last semester I used to spend the whole night studying to keep up with the material, and because it was my first tennis season and I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it was.” She also has a two-hour tennis practice five times a week as well as one-hour weight training twice a week. Nevertheless, Golawska managed to maintain a high GPA.

Golawska took a one-year break from tennis when she was around 14 years old. She said, “I didn’t play tennis at all. I’m a rather social person, and I just wanted to spend more time with friends.” However, when she went to a tennis camp after a break, she realized that tennis is what she needs to do. “I knew that hanging out with friends will not bring me anything in the future, but what actually could be my future was tennis,” said Golawska, “Tennis became the thing that kept me happy. It was my purpose and took the first position of my daily task. Also, if I didn’t play tennis, I would probably have never come here.”

The thing Golawska is thankful for the most is her family. “Family is the most important part of my life,” said Golawska, “My siblings and I are very close to each other. Also, I can always rely on my parents, because they would always support me in every situation. Now, when there is seven-hour time difference, we can contact each other any time. Even if it is three o’clock in the morning in Poland and I feel sad and I really need to hear my parents, I can call them and they would answer the phone immediately.”

Sofia Carrera, who has been Golawska’s friend for almost two years, said, “If I had to describe Aneta in a few words I would say she is lively, dynamic and kind. She is one of those people who have the gift of making others smile just by saying a few words.” She also added, “As a tennis player, I would say Aneta is a strong willed individual who tries her best every time she steps on the court, even when she screams her classic ‘Aneeeta!’ after missing an easy ball. The Polish princess [nickname given to her by the tennis team] surely is one of a kind.”

Golawska is looking forward to the upcoming tennis season in Spring. “I wish I could play as good as possible,” she said, “I assume the reason the last season was hard for me is that it was my first season.” Since then, Golawska became more experienced, and this time, she knows what she has to be ready for.

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The Mississippi College Choctaws battle the Delta State Statesmen for the Heritage Bell trophy! By Corey Rholdon

The 38th meeting of the Heritage Bell Classic will take place thus Saturday night at Roberson-Hale Stadium. The Mississippi College Choctaws and the Delta State Statesmen have been battling it out since 1935, and Okra currently have a 20-15-2 all-time series lead on the Choctaws. Although MC has been unsuccessful as of late, the players of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90 have a fond memory of the Rivalry. These alumni are excited that the rivalry is back since MC rejoined the GSC in 2014, and believe it will once again be a prodigious rivalry.

Mississippi College Dean of Students, Dr. Turcotte is one of those alumni who is excited the Choctaws and Okra are competing again. Dr. Turcotte was the placekicker for MC during the late 70’s and early 80’s. “Well I am very excited about having the rivalry back I’ve never really lost my competition and competitive nature. I am trying to get students to feel it too, but when we first started a few years ago I was going on about it and the students were like what is this guy talking about… Delta State… They don’t really have an understanding yet how deeply those of us who were athletes back a long time ago felt about this rivalry” Turcotte said.

Dr. Turcotte had some great memories of his playing days against Delta State, but two of them were better than the rest. “But I will never forget in 1982 we were playing at Delta State and one of my best friends Major Everett who was the running back on the team; who later went on to play pro football” said Turcotte. “He came off the field and they radioed down into coach and said Major is about to set an NCAA record put him back in. He went back in he rushed for around 340 yards in one game” Turcotte said.

“The other memory was when I was a senior; I was the student government president of Mississippi College and the placekicker on the football team” said Turcotte. “We played Delta State here at Mississippi College, and I hired a sky diver to put on our mascot uniform and dive out of an airplane and parachute into the middle of the football field at the beginning of the game to fire up the crowd. He ran into a tepee and changed with the real mascot. We ended up winning that game.” Turcotte said.

Athletic Director Mike Jones said the rivalry is a well-respected rivalry, and that it means a whole lot for the state of Mississippi and both of the athletic departments. “The renewal of it is great for athletics, the state and for both of our schools” Jones said. “You don’t have to tell the kids, they understand it is an instate game; 2 hours away. They are a very good athletic program, and we are trying to get back to be just like they are.”

After Mississippi College rejoined division two in 2014, all of the “old” alumni were ecstatic to bring the Heritage Bell Classic back. “The biggest thing that I’ve heard when we came back from division two was to beat Delta State! That was pretty neat, that was the first thing that all the alum said” Jones said. “All of the former players in the 70’s and 80’s have come back and they are involved. Of course they knew what that rivalry meant. I know when I was here during the 80’s coach Williams always said this is Delta State week, so it meant a great deal to us” said Jones.

Choctaws Men’s Head Basketball Coach Don Lofton played football for MC during the 70’s and he believes the rivalry will eventually gain the interest it once had. “When we were division two before it was a huge rivalry. I think now since we’ve gone back from division 3 to division 2 I think over time the rivalry will come back, and the interest from the fans will come back” Lofton said. “Over time the rivalry will be huge again. We need that, it is healthy for Mississippi College athletics. Coaches and players always look forward to playing big games. You want to coach in big games, and you want to play in big games” said Lofton.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s is was THE BIG GAME, as the Choctaws prepared for the Statesmen all year said Turcotte. “Well it’s personally because when I was a student they were our number one rival, and we prepared for them all year. It did not matter what kind of season we were having it was possible for one great team to lose to a not so great team in any given year. I did not really care if we won another game the whole year as long as we beat Delta State. It was a traditional rivalry. On the field, it was very rough and intense” said Turcotte.

Mike Jones is a happy man whenever any Choctaws team beats Delta State, and he believes that a win like this could turn the football season around. “It would be great for our football program, anytime you beat Delta State it is great for your program. Anytime you beat Delta State in anything, as an athletic director it is a great moment for me” Jones said.

The Rivalry with Delta State is not just on the playing field but the recruiting field, coach Lofton says beating Delta State helps recruiting. “In terms of recruiting it think it is huge, and in college athletics is comes down to players. Beating Delta State will gain the respect back that we need in the athletic program” said Lofton.

The Choctaws look to beat the Okra for the first time since 1993 Saturday night. MC has lost the last 5 meetings (Did not play from 1996-2013). But there is no better way to turn the season around than beating the 13th ranked Delta State Statesman at home. Go Choctaws!

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The 17th ranked MC Women’s Soccer team looks to continue its hot start as GSC play continues. By Corey Rholdon

Coach Longabaugh and his Lady Choctaws started their season on fire. The team currently has a 3-0-1 record with a tie against 13th ranked North Georgia. Longabaugh says the team has to take it one game at a time. “We have to take game by game, win it game by game. We need to win the conference to automatically qualify to get in (the NCAA tournament). I think we started off on a great foot, up in Cleveland, Tennessee, when we went up to play Rollins, who did beat us out last year to get into the national tournament. We beat them to make a point.”

After beating Rollins, the Lady Choctaws tie against number 13th ranked North Georgia and that proved the team can compete with anyone, Coach Longabaugh says. “We tied them (North Georgia) in double overtime on a neutral field, which was great because it proves we were just as good as they are. We are that kind of a program; we are a nationally competitive program.”

Junior Goalkeeper Andrea McDonald says the team needs to keep its composure, as it is a long season. “We need composure because last year we were so close, and we were so close my freshman year. Last year we made it to the conference finals and this year it’s about staying strong throughout the whole entire year.”

McDonald says the team is no longer underdogs, and since they are ranked 17th in the nation, the team will get their opponent’s best each and every match. “We are currently 17th in the nation right now, which means we have a target on our backs and we are going to keep it that way.”

Captain Katie Taylor has enjoyed seeing her teammates come together this season. “This year we are working for each other. We literally have girls doing the extra slide tackles, the extra sprints, because they know the person beside them is working just as hard. It’s been cool to watch us grow off the field and on it.”

Taylor wants the Lady Choctaws to outwork every team they face this season and be known as the hardest working team in the Gulf South Conference. “When we leave the field we want the other team to be able to say that we are the hardest working team they’ve played all year.”

Coach Longabaugh really likes his team, and he says the team has a good mix with young players and veterans. “We have a young team mixed with a little bit of older veterans; our midfield is strong, and our backline is strong.”

The Lady Choctaws go on the road this weekend to face Shorter on Friday, and Lee on Sunday. The tough road trip is a good test for MC Coach Longabaugh says as the team needs wins against tough opponents to get into the NCAA tournament. “We have to play teams like that if we want to advance into the national tournament or even the conference tournament for that matter.”

MC’s goal for the rest of the season is to keep winning games and win the GSC. “We want to win conference,” said McDonald.

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Running: It’s a sport! By Madison Brown

The Mississippi College men and women’s cross country teams are off to a great start this season. MC hosted the season opener at Choctaw Trails in the beginning of September. The men’s team claimed the No. 1 spot against 13 NCAA and NAIA schools, and the women’s team finished in second place behind Division I member, Southern Miss. Both Mississippi College cross country teams are led by some of the strongest runners in the GSC.

Senior Abbie Easter and Junior Jordan Pritchard are two leading runners for the blue and gold cross country teams. A transfer from Lake Erie in Painesville, Ohio, Pritchard led the men’s team in their season opener. He finished in third place with a time of 16:34.20. He was also named “Wright and Ferguson Athlete of the Week.” Running all four years with the Choctaws, Easter finished in the top seven for the Lady Choctaws. Overall, she finished in 17th place with a time of 16:17.79.

Easter and Pritchard both began running at an early age, but it was due to the encouragement of others that they really got into cross country. Aside from joining the soccer team in middle school, running was never on Abbie’s radar, at least until the 7th grade. “My best friend actually made me join the cross country team. That’s when I started running.” For Pritchard, running was just something his parents made him do in the 4th grade. “I’ve always been really fast, and I was always running around in the yard. So, my parents made me do track.” He didn’t start running cross country until his junior year of high school because he was focused on other sports, like basketball.

When most people think of running, they usually imagine an individual sport, but there is a team aspect to it. Easter says, “It is individualized in the sense that you’re always trying to beat your personal record, but it’s also a team in the fact that we focus a lot on running together as a pack.” She says it’s easier to run with teammates beside you who push you harder than if you were alone. Pritchard says team scoring is emphasized in cross country versus track because every team member is valuable.

Both Easter and Pritchard have individual goals for this season, too. In her last year of running with the Choctaws, Easter aims to be more of a leader. “There’s several seniors this year. We wanna leave the team in a good place.” She hopes to continue bettering her personal record and finish in the top seven to qualify for regionals.  For Pritchard in his first year at MC, he wants to have a high team finish. “Hopefully I can get all-conference and all-regional this fall.”

Finally, they decided what they enjoy most about running. Pritchard says his favorite thing is seeing his progress. “It’s just seeing where you’ve started and where you’ve come. When I first started running, I could barely run a lap, and now I can do, like, 15 miles.” For Easter, it’s the same idea, but her teammates are what makes it enjoyable.  “It’s a totally different relationship — having to put yourself through those challenges and having somebody to do that beside you.”

The men and women’s team practice together every weekday morning to prepare for their next meet. Both teams will travel to Memphis, Tenn., where they will compete in the Rhodes Invitational on Sept. 16.

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Player Profile: Joshua Robinson By Anais Eliseeva

Full name: Joshua Marcus Robinson

Birth date: April 27th, 1997

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 160 lbs

Position: Forward

Joshua Robinson came to Mississippi College from London three years ago to receive a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Business and to play for the MC soccer team, which is no less important. The quality of education as well as the quality of the soccer program were the two decisive criteria for choosing a university. Robinson was also looking at universities in the UK, Oregon, Idaho, and West Virginia. However, the final choice fell on MC.

Soccer has taken place in Robinson’s life since childhood. “Soccer is just so ingrained in the lifestyle of my country that everyone grows up playing it. I went from playing in the streets of London as a young boy, using jumpers [sweaters] for goalposts, to playing for my local Sunday League team,” he said. It is worth noting that prior to the Choctaws, Robinson semi-professionally played at Sutton United Football Club.

Besides soccer, Robinson was fond of other sports as well, which helped him to improve his skills as a soccer player. “I swam frequently and that helped with my core strength and balance, skills that go a long way in soccer. I also ran track, which of course helped my speed and endurance,” said Robinson. He also added that he mastered the art and skill of Karate and achieved First Dan [rank] Black Belt. “I’m a rather physical soccer player,” he said. “I don’t mind taking a hit and definitely don’t shy away from giving one.”

As for Robinson’s strengths as a soccer player, Robinson stands out because of his athleticism and also because he usually plays aggressive soccer. “When I have a smile on my face, I’m the most dangerous. I like to be a positive character on the field, commending my teammates when they do well and encouraging them when they mess up,” said Robinson. At the same time, he admitted that his “on-ball decision-making” may be a little quicker than it should.

According to Head Coach Kevin Johns, “Josh is a ‘Smart Proper Witty Englishman’ and, as a soccer player, he is a pacey winger who trains and works very hard for the team.”

Robinson grew up watching the English Premier League when it was emerging. “I became a fan of two players around the early 2000s: Louis Saha and Thierry Henry. I, being a Manchester United fan, had a jersey with Saha’s number on my back with Robinson instead. I hated how much I loved Henry, as he’d always score past us,” he said.

“Being a student-athlete really is a way of life,” said Robinson. He explained it as a 4-year commitment to participate in a sporting program as well as to receive a higher education. “I have the utmost respect for all my fellow student athletes, as it is more difficult than I anticipated,” said Robinson. Even though it is hard to find a lot of free time while being a student athlete, Robinson likes to spend it reading, eating, and sleeping. “Not necessarily in that order though,” he noted. Robinson also added, “I’m an avid part-time video gamer, playing Super Smash Bros — and this is a public call-out to anyone willing to get patterned!”

Robinson’s usual pregame ritual helps him do his best on the field. “Before I step onto the field I religiously talk to myself with a little mnemonic I’ve been doing for as long as I remember, SLM. It stands for ‘Soccer Lets Me,’ and I follow it with what I’m able to do and what I am grateful for,” said Robinson. This takes around a minute and then he steps on the field with his right foot first. Also, there are two songs that keep Robinson motivated, which are “Roc Boys” by Jay-Z and “Money Dance” by Rick Ross. “Every single time,” he said, “It makes me feel so grand and so knowing of my worth.”

Soccer has given Robinson countless opportunities in his life. For example, he toured Europe twice playing soccer. “I also have teammates from across the globe who have become some of my closest friends,” he said. “Ultimately, soccer has given me the opportunity to get a degree whilst playing the sport I love being in a new country, conquering unchartered territory! I’d be crazy to say no to it!”

Robinson also shared some of his life goals. Looking to the future, he is looking forward to get into pharmaceutical sales. “Whether that’s in the United States or elsewhere, I will find out. All I know is I will need to be able to keep my family close as I’m so tight with them,” he said. Currently, he does his best to focus on both contributing to the soccer team as well as maintaining a solid GPA. “This season I have two personal goals: to improve my consistency whilst playing with a smile on my face and to fight for my spot in that squad,” said Robinson.

“I’m grateful for my family, as they support me, and without them, I’d genuinely be lost,” he said. “I’m grateful to those who inspire me, whether they know it or not. I’m funnily enough grateful for my mnemonic, SLM, as it’s brought me so much joy with the thing I love. I’m grateful for my independence and stubbornness, as it was those things that got me out to America to pursue my dreams. Last of all, I’m grateful for my teammates, as they’ve been a family out here to me.”

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MC Softball “Fall Ball” Kickoff by Carlie Prescott

Following the Gulf South Conference Championship last year, the Mississippi College softball team is ready to kick off this year’s season of fall ball. Fall ball is essential to the success of this team, because it’s a time to focus on the growth of the team and to prepare for the spring season. This team will take full advantage of this time to go above and beyond the bar that was set last season with the conference championship win. Head Coach Brooke O’Hair says, “During the fall season, you are not as worried about the wins and losses as you are the development of your team.” This time is vital. With a different group of girls learning how to work collectively, fall ball is the manner in which they discover how to fuse one another’s abilities together. Freshman player Alexis Jones says, “I can’t wait until next week when we get to start full practice and see how we all gel together on the field.”

The goal each and every year, according to O’Hair, is to win the Gulf South Conference championship. “We were blessed enough to come out on top last season, but the goal is to be a consistent program,” she said. “We also want to get back to NCAA postseason play and learn from last year to advance deeper into the tournament.”

Already, O’Hair can see the qualities of the team that will be beneficial this year. “This team will have some collegiate experience in the circle. Last year, we had such an inexperienced pitching staff, but we bring back a lot of talent and girls that saw a lot of time on the field,” she said. With regards to the upcoming season, she added, “I’m looking forward to seeing how much that helps us going forward.”

Concerning her final season as a Choctaw, senior player Katherine Lee says, “I know this team is going to give everything they have to be the best in the conference again. I expect us to compete for the conference title and to advance further in the NCAA postseason because of all the talent we have on this team.” A challenge Lee addresses for this season is that the team lost four starters from last season, so it will take time to get used to playing with one another. Regardless, she believes this team still has the ability to be the best on the field.

The Lady Choctaws’ first opponent of the season is Copiah-Lincoln Community College on Sept. 30 in Clinton. Co-Lin is a good junior college program and will be a proper test to start off for the team, according to O’Hair. The toughest opponents of the season, in the eyes of the coaches, will be Co-Lin and Pearl River Community College, as well as Southern Union from Ala. O’Hair says that in recent years, each of those schools have helped the team in the recruitment process, and the team is excited to face them on the field. On Oct. 7, The Lady Choctaws are also competing against South Alabama, a Division 1 program that went 35-20 in 2017 and just missed out on a berth in the national tournament. With these teams in line, the Mississippi College softball players will have a true test of their abilities early.

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DIG, SET, SPIKE! Lady Choctaw Volleyball Team Looks Build on Last Year’s Improvements! By Andrew Vaughn

The Mississippi College Volleyball team defeated the Loyola (La.) Wolfpack this week, 3 sets to none. This marks the first time in program history the Lady Choctaws defeated the Wolfpack. The team will travel to Arkansas for the Dr. Margaret Downing Invitational, where they will finish out their non-conference schedule with matches against Grambling State, Arkansas-Monticello, Texas A&M International, and tournament host, Southern Arkansas. The Lady Choctaws will play host to Auburn Montgomery to kick off Gulf South Conference play.

With a record of 10-21, one might not instantly describe the 2016 season as successful, but it was a huge improvement for the Lady Choctaws. 2016 was the first time in five seasons that they won 10 games. It was also Julie Redus’s first year as head coach. When any coach comes to a program, especially one that has not been winning a lot, they want to change the team’s culture. That is easier said than done, but Coach Redus thinks the Lady Choctaws are on the right track. “It’s really hard to change a culture, especially with the transition to Division 2 and playing in a tough conference like the Gulf South Conference. What’s going to change our culture this year is our eight-senior squad. I’ve got eight seniors this year who are really changing the culture themselves. I’m just allowing them and leading them in the right direction. I let them take control and leave their own legacy. Culture and legacy are synonyms for us right now.”

Senior Madison Frazier would like to see more conference wins this year, as the Lady Choctaws only won three Gulf South Conference matchups. “It was great to have 10 wins,  of course, but we would hope to get a lot more conference wins this year. We had a slow start but I feel like we can still do it, for sure.” Two of those conference wins last year came against the West Georgia Wolves, who happen to be one of Frazier’s favorite opponents. “My favorite team to play against is West Georgia; we’ve beaten them twice, two years in a row. Hopefully we can do that again.”

Junior Shelby Grace Mays and her teammates have established a team goal to help get more wins this year. “Our goals are to minimize on our own errors. We think we have a lot of potential this year; we have a lot of talent. I think we really beat ourselves most of the time by our own errors. I think if we minimize our own errors offensively and defensively we will double our wins from last year.” By eliminating errors, you avoid beating yourself — this can be applied to all sports. Mays also has a personal goal she believes will help the team. “My personal goal is help the team as much as I can by minimizing on my own errors. Serving errors are big for me right now.” You can find Mays in the gym getting in extra practice on her serves, especially for opponents from Alabama. Mays, an Alabama native, looks forward to playing against other players from her home state. “Coming from Alabama I would love to whoop up on UNA or West Alabama or Huntsville. There’s a lot of pressure when I play over there, but I feel like I play better under pressure, so that helps. There’s at least one player on each of those teams that I played club (volleyball) with, so it’s always good playing against old friends.”

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MC Men’s Soccer: The Numbers Behind the Choctaws. By: Andrew Vaughn

The Mississippi College Men’s Soccer Team looks to start out the 2017 campaign on a high note as they play host to the Nova Southeastern Sharks. After an interview with Head Coach Kevin Johns and Senior Midfielder Bastian Busch, the Choctaws look to build on last year’s regular season dominance. Soccer, like all sports, can be broken down as a game of numbers. These numbers seem random and insignificant alone, but when related back to MC Men’s Soccer they are important.

15: The number of international players the Choctaws have on their roster. It is the second most in the Gulf South Conference. Coach Johns attributes the worldwide popularity and opportunities in the United States for student athletes to the amount of players who want to come to the United States, “…with soccer being the world’s game and the most popular game in the world. The game itself is played in every single country with a massive passion. In America, (soccer) it’s way down the list as far as the passion compared to other countries. And they all would love to come get an education in America. In most of those countries, you either pick university or soccer. They don’t have the opportunity to get an education and play soccer.”

12: The number of returning seniors. This depth of experienced players will help the team execute little details that can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Senior Bastian Busch highlighted some of the keys the team has been focusing on this offseason, ““This year we will focus on trying to move the ball quickly and limiting our mistakes. When games are close, it’s the first team to make a mistake that would lose the game.”

10: With 10 wins last season, Mississippi College finished the regular season with the best record and therefore the number 1 seed in the GSC Tournament. Last year was a huge improvement from 2015’s 8th place regular season finish.

9: The jersey number of last year’s scoring leader for the Choctaws: Jorge Delgado. Delgado led the Choctaws on the offensive end, with ten goals and forty-three shots. Fear not Choctaw fans, Coach Johns believes the combination of solid defense and good recruiting will pick up any slack left on the offensive end.

3: The West Alabama Tigers have won 3 straight Gulf South Conference Championships. They look to win another as the coaches of the GSC voted them to first place in the GSC Men’s Soccer Poll. Coach Johns expressed the depth in the GSC, “Our conference is not top heavy, like there’s not a team that could win the national championship. There’s five or six teams that could win the conference.”

1: The jersey number of the reigning Gulf South Conference Player of the Year Humberto Pelaez. The senior goalkeeper is also a preseason All-GSC Pick. Pelaez anchors the Choctaw defense as the one of the best players in the conference. It will make it easier on the offensive end for newcomers when you have such a reliable, experienced goalie behind you.

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Title Bound? Lady Choctaws Have Sights Set on GSC Championship in Second Year of Competition By: Josh Clark

                     “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” That’s what USA head coach Herb Brooks told his group of ragtag college hockey players in the locker room as they prepared to take on Russia in the semifinal game of the 1980 Winter Olympics. His team entered the game as the ultimate underdogs, with their roster being primarily comprised of players either fresh out of college or not good enough for professional play. Their opponent was a team that had not lost a game in the Winter Olympics in 12 years. The Russian machine was supposedly undefeatable, and it seemed as though only a miracle would help the Americans prevail. But that’s exactly what happened and the USA won, successfully giving birth to the “Miracle on Ice.”

          A great moment was born from the greatest of opportunities, and the 1980 Miracle team is immortalized in American history because of it. And though they may not become one of the greatest stories in American sports, it doesn’t downplay the great opportunity that the Mississippi College Lady Choctaws soccer team has this coming season.

          This fall, the Lady Choctaws will dive into their second season as full-time members of the Gulf South Conference, and there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for the year.

          In their first season as full-time members in the fall of 2016, MC took the GSC by storm. They turned in a 13-5-2 overall record and a 9-2-1 record in conference play. This performance was good enough to get them third place in the GSC standings and an automatic bid to the GSC Tournament. In the tournament, they almost went the distance (including an upset win in PKs against no. 2 Lee University), but fell just short in a 2-0 loss to the West Florida Argonauts in the championship.

          With the loss, MC fell just short of the NCAA Division II playoffs. West Florida earned a spot and advanced to the quarterfinals (final eight) before losing to Columbus State. The Argonauts finished eighth overall in the NCAA D-II Top 25 poll. So in other words, the Lady Choctaws fell two goals short of one of the best teams in Division II. But the past is the past and it’s time to look towards the future.

          The Lady Choctaws enter the 2017 season as one of the best teams in the GSC. MC landed third in the preseason coaches’ poll, trailing the same two teams they did in the 2016 final standings (West Florida and Lee). Though they didn’t receive any first-place votes, they earned a top spot because of their solid 2016 performance. But could this be the year that the Lady Choctaws take it one step further? It certainly seems like it could be.

          The Lady Choctaws began preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 14 here in Clinton, MS. Since then, they have played two exhibition games against LSUA and Hinds Community College. They beat Hinds by a whopping score of 12-0 and edged LSUA by a score of 1-0 thanks to a goal from junior Daisy Rodgers. The Colleyville, TX native is one of the many Lady Choctaws excited for the season.

          “We have a lot of returning talent and new talent,” Rodgers said of the 2017 squad. “Our bench is pretty stacked.”

          24 of the 41 players on the Lady Choctaw roster are returners from last season, with nine of them being presumed starters. In addition to the 24 returners, senior Caitlin Hayes and sophomore Lauren Kate Carter made the GSC Preseason All-Conference Team. Sophomore transfer Scarlett Hodges and freshman Holly Pascoe made the GSC list of Top Newcomers as well.

 

“We’ve been focusing very much [in the preseason] on precision in our formation and the structure of it,” Rodgers said. “Our formation we switched up a little bit this year and we’re doing well with it. It’s been an adjustment but we’re hoping to see some breakthroughs in these upcoming games.”

          And some breakthroughs will need to happen rather quickly. The Lady Choctaws opened up regular season play this past weekend in Cleveland, TN. They open up conference play on Friday afternoon at home against West Alabama, who came in just behind MC at fifth in the preseason poll.

          The Lady Choctaws will host UAH two days after their game against West Alabama. Following the two-game homestand, MC will hit the road for four straight games, two of which will be against Lee and West Florida. There’s a lot of talented opponents in a short period of time, but Rodgers and the Lady Choctaw team aren’t too worried about it.

          “We’re doing well working together,” Rodgers said.

          The Lady Choctaws will play each member of the GSC once this season, ending the year with a three-game homestand against Montevallo and Auburn-Montgomery (who are new to the conference) as well as rival Delta State.

It is looking to be a good year for MC women’s soccer, and there is reason to believe that a GSC championship could be waiting at the end of the ride.

          “Oh yeah,” Rodgers said about MC having a shot at the championship. “That’s our goal. We’ll see as the season unfolds if that goal looks more obtainable than how we see it right now. That’s our goal and it’s looking like we’re going to have a good shot at it, so that’s very exciting.”

          So even though there may not be new bleachers out at Robert P. Longabaugh Field just yet, make sure to go out there and support your Lady Choctaws this season. Chances are they will make it worth your while. Not bad for a team starting their second year in the conference.

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The Lady Choctaws Volleyball team is ready for the next step, as the team starts the season at the Capital Classic in Springfield, Ill. By Corey Rholdon

Last season the Mississippi College Volleyball team went through a culture change under Head Coach Julie Redus. That led to 7 more wins for the lady Choctaws, now the team is ready for the next step.

MC has an experienced group led by 8 seniors, and Coach Redus is excited about how the group bought in this preseason. “They are ready getting after it and buying in now. They are making sure they are changing the culture one day at a time.”

Redus says this group of seniors have been though a lot and that’s what makes this group so close. “This senior group was the first class to come in for us in our division two transition. They’ve really battled it out if I am going to be honest. They’ve went through a change of coach, completely different play of style. They have really just bonded together, and really gone through life together”.

The Lady Choctaws brought in a lot of talented freshmen this season. Those freshmen have left a good impression on their teammates. Senior’s Krista Zieschang and Kayana Mitchell have seen more and more talented players from in since they have been here. Zieschang said that it will help the program grow. “Every year there is higher level athletes that come in. Which really helps contribute to improving our program. I have seen an increase of the skill of the athletes that come in. I think the freshmen will add a lot to the team this year and help get more wins on our record.”

Mitchell is a leader on the team, and she says that she loves the freshmen “I love their attitude and mentality. We have a lot of athletes on this year’s team.” Mitchell wants to show the freshmen the ins and outs of the program. “I lead by example, and showing them how to go about practice. Helping them understand how our coaches are, because this is a new environment for them. Showing them how to be a college athlete.”

With an experience and talented group the Lady Choctaws want to take the next step, and Coach Redus says that is winning one more game. “Next step for Mississippi College Volleyball is winning one more game. That is our motto, just one more, just one more. Because in volleyball or in any sport we just need one more to keep pushing through”. Mitchell says the team goals are not only to win more games but go to the conference tournament. “It is step by step, the next step is getting more wins, and eventually getting to the conference tournament”.

Zieschange has seen a marked improvement of the team as she sees a more motivated team. “I think that there is more drive and more desire to win. There is more drive to play our best and winning to be an expectation and not to expect to lose. I’ve seen that change in culture and for the better.” Zieschange also believes in the coaching staff, which she said will bring them to the next level. “Expectations are pretty high, I think we have a really good team this year. I really think our coaching staff has what it takes to bring us to the next level; for us to do really well and be successful this season”.

The Choctaws start the season in the capital classic in Springfield, Ill. MC plays two games on Friday September 1st, and two games on Saturday September 2nd. Coach Redus expects her team to be challenged this weekend, and wants to see where her “scrappy” team is at. “I expect good tough competition that is why we are going there. We are hoping to gain a little more knowledge and find our weaker areas”.

Mitchell says the team is ready to go “Balls to the wall, we are ready to get after it, and we start the season off on a good foot.” The Choctaws look to have their first winning season since rejoining the GSC.

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The Beauty of Sociology

March 22, 2016

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Sociology may be the most interesting subject possible for intellectual study. No, studying about the id, organic solidarity, or Marxism for a three hour credit does not entail too much excitement. However, simply look at the people surrounding you at any given point of the day, analyze their interactions, and you, friend, have become a sociologist. By taking just a moment to really contemplate socializing, or the process of engaging in society as a functional member, one will quickly realize that such interactions consists of innumerable layers of intricacy and well organized mechanics.

Take, as  a common example, the school cafeteria. Most students of Mississippi College enter the cafeteria to eat at least once throughout the day. Many people walk into the caf at the same time, choose the same food, sit at the same table, talk to the same people, and finish their food at the same pace every single day. Others, however, have no such internal regulators. They eat whenever, whatever, and with whomever they like. Each case results from social “norms” which  have been subconsciously programmed within people’s minds over the course of years to act and think a certain way. Someone from Delta farmland may have grown up eating breakfast with their family at 7:30 every morning before spending the day working, and thus continue the same habit into adulthood. Someone from urban Houston, however, may have lived their entire life  eating “on the fly,” and would experience no such organization. As another example, look to the comparisons between introverts and extroverts. Some people (such as myself) love nothing more than a good book and a steaming cup of dark coffee to spend their Friday afternoon. Others could never even imagine studying in the library with less than ten of their closest friends in a room.

Each disposition, however pronounced, comes from years of very specific interactions and subsequent responses, and these personality traits affect daily life in an infinite number of ways. This process closely parallels the Butterfly Effect, which, according to the almighty Google, “is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” Essentially, one tiny stimulus can, over time, increase to have significant magnitude, given the proper circumstances. One person may have a bad experience with a friend in the first grade, and therefore come decide to hide away from all social interaction fifteen years later. Someone else, on the other hand, may feel euphoria from a teacher congratulating them for making friends in kindergarten, and thus be addicted to the same interaction once in college. Each situation is just as extreme as the other, but just as likely. Such observations make up the study of social interaction.

You may never truly understand the intricacy of daily life without a proper understanding of how you respond to certain situations, and also how others respond to similar situations. By taking such observations into account, we may flow through society with much greater ease and avoid many of the common blunders that most people face when socializing with others.

-Taylor Lemoine, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian

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The Oh Hellos Deliver with “Dear Wormwood”

 

March 22, 2016

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Less than a month ago, I had never heard of the Oh Hellos, but now they are one of my favorite bands to listen to. I was skeptical at first since I don’t normally gravitate towards the folk genre, but after listening to “Dear Wormwood,” their newest album, I was converted, and it’s all that I’ve listened to for the last two weeks. Musically, The Oh Hellos do an amazing job. Not only is the album very well produced, but the lyrics are extremely deep and well written. If The Oh Hellos’ are a non-Christian band, then they’re the most Christian non-Christian band that I’ve ever heard. “Dear Wormwood” is a concept album, something I personally am a sucker for, that deals with ending this horrid relationship with sin that we’ve so long held onto. The title is taken from the stage production “Dear Wormwood,” which is itself a stage adaptation of “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.

The album starts with the beautifully orchestrated “Prelude” that gives the album a sense of epicness right from the start. It gets the listener ready to experience the rest of the album. It swells into this amazing ending before fading out on a more reserved note the sets the tone for the next song on the track.

Following “Prelude” is “Bitter Water”. This song has a very laid back, folky feel to it that I think well represents The Oh Hellos’ sound as a whole. The mandolin melody line is very fun to listen to, but the fun feel of the song misrepresents the true meaning of the lyrics. It can be very easy to miss the tension in statements like “lovely bitter water” and how that refers to our own addictive relationship with sin.

I was very close to writing that “Caesar” is my favorite track on the album. I enjoy the feel of it, and I absolutely love the lyrical work here. “Caesar” would not feel out of place in an Easter service. It talks about our coming King and how the world is waiting for His return. It calls us to wait for Him and to look for the signs of His coming because He IS coming back.

“Soldier, Poet, King” is yet another song on this album that has really deep meaning hidden beneath a fun and lively exterior. Underneath this Irish-folk sound, there’s an amazing promise that Jesus (the soldier, poet, king) is going to return to set everything in this world right again. It is an immensely hopeful idea that puts a smile on your face and joy into your heart.

“Dear Wormwood”, the title track, is my actual favorite. It has this haunting tone to it that sends chills down my spine every time that I give it a listen. This song acts as a personal message to our “wormwoods” (the demons, fears, and sins that weigh us down). The song boldly states that “I know who you are now”, “I know who I am now”, and that “I declare you my enemy”. While these may be seemingly simple ideas, in light of the Gospel and of Scripture these truths can change everything. It’s a beautiful idea that is coupled with an equally beautiful music backing.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this album to anybody and everybody.

-Nick Shepherd, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian

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Jones and Von Kanel Honored in Byrd Preaching Competition

March 22, 2016

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Page (right) presented Von Kanel (left) with the Byrd Preaching Award. photo by Andy Kanengiser

The Byrd Preaching Award was developed in the fall of 1996 when Dr. Howell Todd was president of Mississippi College.

According to Dr. Burn Page, chairman of the Department of Christian Studies, “The original document that characterizes David and Maude Byrd was signed by the late D. M. Nelson, former president of Mississippi College and the one for whom Nelson Hall is named.”

According to Page, the purpose of this award is  to encourage expository, biblical preaching and to memorialize the lives of David Q. Byrd, Maude May Byrd, William Ashford (Billy) Byrd and Hal Newton Byrd, all of whom are deceased.

Students who wish to participate must submit a sermon to the Christian Studies department secretary, LaJune White. “Ms. White then places a number on each manuscript and makes copies for each of the committee members who will evaluate each sermon; and then the committee selects the candidate,” Page said.

None of the committee members know the author of any sermon. Once the winner is picked, the committee gives the number to White who notifies the candidate who won.

This year’s winner was Ryan Von Kanel, a junior Christian Studies major. Von Kanel not only won $500 dollars and a certificate, but he also got to speak at Chapel on Tuesday, March 15.

“My first chapel speaking experience was very weighty and a lot of fun, and very encouraging. Anytime I am responsible for preaching God’s word it brings a certain weight with it,” Von Kanel said.

His parents were in town from Alabama to hear him speak and he used the new popular live streaming app Periscope so his family out of town could also hear his message.

“All the students who have since spoken to me have really encouraged me and confirmed to me that preaching is something God has called me to do,” Von Kanel said.

Page was also in attendance to hear Von Kanel. “He did an excellent job with the presentation of the Gospel, and I think Ryan’s preaching ministry will bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ whom he loves and preaches,” Page said.

However, Von Kanel was not the first person this year to be awarded. This year’s competition was originally won by graduate student Amy Jones. Jones was not allowed to officially be recognized because of a rule that was overlooked in the original judging.

“The guidelines listed only a requirement for a commitment to full-time church ministry. As a church musician, I believed I met that requirement. There was no mention of the requirement to be an undergraduate student,” Jones explained.

The sermon she entered was the same one she was going to use last year before she missed the deadline. Jones was understandably disappointed when this rule made it impossible for her to be given the award.

Page said he was pleased when he found out Jones was the winner because she was the first female to win.

“I did not know Amy, but Dr. Michael Johnson had indicated that some students from his Ministry class may submit a sermon, so I thought Amy was one of his students,” Page said. It wasn’t until he and Dr. Eric Pratt were discussing Jones’ availability to speak in Chapel that he was made aware that she was a graduate student.

“I was concerned because we do not offer a graduate degree in Christian Studies and Philosophy and the Byrd Award was set up in the CSP Department. We have never had a graduate student apply for the award so it never occurred to anyone to ask,” Page said.

According to Page, the criteria for entry is as follows: “Any student who is not a graduating senior who has made a commitment to the preaching ministry and has maintained an acceptable G.P.A. will be eligible for the award.”

After this mistake, Page says the department will be sure next year’s nomination forms include all the previously unclear information. Jones was also given a monetary gift equal to that of this year’s Byrd recipient which was $500.

“I deeply regret this misunderstanding, and I greatly appreciate Amy’s attitude,” Pratt said. He and Page agreed that, though she was disappointed when he called, Amy demonstrated “great grace and understanding.”

This award was important to Jones and she hoped it would have helped her in some way. “I had hoped that my appearance in chapel could inspire younger women who might also be interested in full-time ministry,” Jones said. However, she remains positive about what is to come and noted that “Ryan’s sermon was excellent, and I admire that he won over even the people who normally complain about chapel! I understand that it’s a difficult situation, and I am sincerely sorry that all of this happened. Certainly, I would never have entered if I could have known it might inconvenience anyone. Thankfully, I did learn that same week that I placed first in the Arrowhead, so my family looks forward to reading that in lieu of seeing me in chapel,” Jones said.

-Ayanna Bloom, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian

 

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New BSU Leaders Expect Great Things

March 22, 2016

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(from left) Mandy Phillips, Emily Greer, Travis Pollard, Anna Widner and Jarrett Frierson ministered in Mass. over Spring Break

 The Baptist Student Union has experienced changes in leadership this semester with both a new Director and Associate Director. In January, former Associate Director Mandy Phillips was officially named Director. Then, on Feb. 22, MC graduate Ryan Bain worked his first day as the associate director.  

Phillips had previously served as Associate Director beginning in October 2014 until her time as the interim Director from October 2015 until January 2016. Phillips has had a 16-year-long career in collegiate ministry that has had her crisscrossing the country. Before returning to her home state of Mississippi to work at MC, Phillips worked in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Louisiana.

Phillips’ first exposure to college ministry came right after she finished her bachelor’s degree at William Carey University in Hattiesburg. She was the associate director for their BSU for a year before going to the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to get her Masters of Divinity degree. While there, she ministered to nursing and medical students.

When she graduated from seminary, Phillips moved to Providence, R.I. There, she was a North American Missions Board missionary and worked on staff at a church plant. She said she was able to make many campus relationships with students at Brown University. She recalled helping one particular student become a Christian, which was a difficult thing because of the anti-Christian nature of the school.

From there, Phillips was recommended by a mentor for a job at Louisiana State University. She served for five years at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry there. And then, in 2011, she was recommended for the associate director position at the University of Tennessee.

In 2013 Phillips got engaged. Her fiancé was working in Pennsylvania at the time, so she moved there and got a job at Penn State.

In 2014, Phillips and her husband were “sensing that God was doing something, about to move us, but we didn’t know why.” They ended up moving back to Mississippi, where Phillips applied to the BSU position at Mississippi College that had opened up right about the time they moved. She went to her first interview, and about three hours later, checked into the hospital for the birth of their son.

Phillips said the students she’s encountered at Mississippi College have been different in several ways from the ones she’s ministered to at other schools. “I’ve seen some of the strongest leaders here,” she said. Also, she’s noticed “some of the most willing servants I’ve ever seen. They understand no task is too small and somebody has to set up sound and lug water coolers and somehow that can point to the glory of God.”

Some people have said to Phillips, “You realized you’ve worked with some of the best ministries in the country.” She responds, That’s only the Lord.”

Ryan Bain brings another unique set of experiences to his new position as the Associate BSU Director. He graduated with a bachelors in Christian Studies from Mississippi College in 2014. After graduating, he interned at the Louisiana State University’s Shreveport campus BSU. He then began seminary at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn. Bain also interned at the BSU at Northwest Mississippi Community College for a semester.  After his first semester there, Bain made the move back to MC, and will continue to serve here while taking seminary classes online.

-Will Hawks, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian

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