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 Football team starts the 2017 season. By Madison Brown

The Mississippi College Choctaws begin their 2017-2018 season on Thursday as they travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face the Clark-Atlanta Panthers.  John Bland begins his fourth season as head coach and looks to improve his 6-24 record. Bland says with the addition and contribution of new players on the roster, the team has improved greatly over the last three weeks of preseason practice.  “They’re growing together as a team,” Bland says, “and that’s awesome to see.” He, along with the rest of the coaching staff, is excited to see the team “on display in the regular season.”

To start the season, the Choctaws are on the road for the first three weeks before playing two home games in a row[a].  Bland says the constant travel will have the more effect on the coaching staff rather than the players. Although being on the bus for such a long time will be difficult, he doubts it will have any effect on their playing abilities.

Looking forward to the new season, Bland hopes for some victories to add to the Choctaws record. He says, “We’ve used the majority of our scholarships,” something that hasn’t happened at MC over the last 22 years.  “Being able to compete at a higher level” he feels will carry over into the win column.

Senior Chris Manning is excited to continue his football career for a fourth and final season with the Choctaws. The Gulf South Conference chose Manning as the only nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his contributions on and off the field. Manning has made a huge impact on both his teammates and community.

Starting as defensive back, Manning says the team is “developing talent wise and we’ve all grown together as a family.” He is one o only a few players who have been with the Choctaw team all four years. With years of experience behind him, Manning feels that his most important role on the team is to be a leader because other team members look up to him. After a month of long summer practices, he’s excited to get this new season underway.  “We’re just ready to play another team besides ourselves.”

The Choctaws are looking for their third consecutive win in a season opener against first time opponent, Clark Atlanta. Next week, the team travels to Bolivar, MO to face the Southwest Baptist Bearcats.

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