Preseason Practice: It’s Game Time By Marquisha Mathis

A quote from Allen Iverson says, “When you’re not practicing, someone else is getting better.” The game of basketball is not just a man’s sport. It began long ago for women and still is evolving to this day.

The women’s basketball team is back in action and is ready to get back on the court. All fifteen players have been gearing up, putting in many hours each week at the gym, and working out to get their bodies in shape.

Getting ready for the new season, the ladies of MC’s basketball team can be found working hard at practice and dribbling up and down the court every day. “Preseason practices are quite intense. We wake up at 5 a.m. to prepare for conditioning at 6 a.m. To prepare for the games this year, I am practicing every day, working on my defense, as well as my offense, and learning more about my teammates,” said Lauran Sheriff.

“A lot of time is being put in. When we’re not in class, we are practicing and lifting weights,” said Elly Nash. To prepare for a game, Moriah Hurst said, “I start the day before, by stretching and getting my body prepared and making sure I eat well. I also pray and listen to music to get focused.”

Sheriff says, “This new season is a bit tough. I have been injured, so coming back was hard for me, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take.”

“Working with this team has been very helpful; they’re patient. Being a freshman, I am learning a lot,” said Lindsey Vaughn.

“Having the strength to finish the game and to play to the best of my ability is how I prepare,” said Kaleigh Wren.

“I am truly blessed to be a part of a team that has a great coaching staff who is easy to work with and who can guide me along, whether it’s on or off the court,” said Lauran. “After MC, I still want to play basketball; I don’t see myself doing anything else,” said Elly Nash.

“Playing basketball at MC has allowed me to make really good friends who have become a part of my family. Now I am more confident in being the person that i’m supposed to be. I have been given an opportunity to further my education and to go on in life and do what I really want to do,” said Kaitlyn Thompson.

“I am inspired by my mom, who is the reason why I wake up every day and am able to play and do what I love. Also, setting a big example for the children and older kids in the community who look up to me and want to find a way out is inspirational to me,” said Sheriff.

Continuing with her comments on the game, “All I’ve dreamed of since a young age was playing basketball. I plan to go overseas and play,” said Hurst.

“The game has given me lifelong friendships, confidence, and a positive mindset,” said Kaleigh Wren. Basketball is one of the few women’s sports that developed right behind men’s and became very popular, especially in college. “Believe in yourself,” said Vaughn.




Defense and Leadership Has Led to the Lady Choctaws 5-1 Start! By Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor

The Mississippi College Lady Choctaws are currently ranked 22nd in the country, and have started out the season with a 5-1 record. A big reason for that is defense; MC started out GSC play with 3 straight road games and in those games, the opposing team has scored 0 goals.

After waiting two years, goalkeeper Gabby Kayser has gotten an opportunity to play, and she has made the most of it, winning the GSC defender of the week. “It is so awesome. It is unbelievable that all this hard work I have been doing for two years is paying off,” said Kayser.

The Lady Choctaws Head Coach Darryl Longabaugh believes that back line will only continue to get better. “I think our formation is a part of it, as we run a 3-5-2. You get a little bit more support from the mid-field. Gaylynn Cooper, Liza Wise and Scarlett Hodges have been doing an outstanding job shutting everything down. Liza Wise has been doing a great job playing centerback in that group. When we make mistakes, we have Gabby Kayser in back making the saves. They are working well back there, and I see it only getting better because we are also getting healthier back there too,” Longabaugh said.

Junior mid-fielder Lauren Kate Carter has also praised the back line for not only their great play but their leadership and communication. “Our defense is solid; we have great communicators in the back. Your leadership needs to come from the back because they see the whole field in front of you. It is awesome to have a defense to tell me as a mid-fielder what I can do and what spaces are open,” said Carter.

While the defense has been dominating, the offense has gotten off to a slow start but Carter and Coach Longabaugh believe that the goals will start to fall. “Simple…Simple…Simple… Put the ball past the keeper into the net. That is all that we need to do; we have over-complicated it. I think it is going to come, we are too talented up top for it not to start falling. I think we start to relax and understand that is when we will start scoring 2 to 3 goals a game,” Longabaugh said.

“We have had so many opportunities in front of the goal, so we just have to be patient and execute when the opportunities are there. We have to make our shots, be consistent and have composure under the goal,” said Carter.

MC has gone to the GSC tournament championship games in back-to-back seasons. The team lost to West Florida by the score of 2-0 in 2016, and last year fell to Lee 1-0. This year, the team is motivated not only to go back to the GSC championship but to win it. “It is motivating going two years in a row, getting so close to that championship title that we just more determined than ever to come away with it,” Kayser said.

The Lady Choctaws also want to get back to the NCAA tournament, in which they were the number 1 seed in the South Regional but lost in the first game to West Florida. “The loss in the NCAA Regionals has motivated us to get back because we do not want that to be a dark spot on our program,” said Longabaugh.

Mississippi College plays two home games this weekend vs. Shorter on Friday and against Lee on Saturday. Lee is the team who beat the Lady Choctaws in the Championship game last season, and Coach Longabaugh said that his team needs to out-match the Lady Flames’ intensity to win that game.

On the Verge of a Big Step Forward By Elliot Reeder,

After an up-and-down and injury-riddled start to the season, the Mississippi College Volleyball team feels they are on the verge of taking a big step forward. First year Head Coach Shawna Laurendine said, “I’m really looking forward to having everybody healthy, and seeing what we can actually do once we get everybody healthy, and have some depth in some positions, and challenging the teams in our conference. We’re going to surprise some people in the 2nd half.”

An incredibly young Choctaws team has gotten some big playing time from numerous freshman including Jamie Boros, Kendall Platt, Lexie Laurendine, Rylee Markham and Gwenyth Prenter. Junior Julia Martin says that at first most of the freshman were shy, but they quickly stepped out of their shyness due to how many of them there were and how important they were going to be to the team.

Over half of MC’s roster is made up of freshmen, and another 26% of the roster is made up of sophomores. The young Choctaws roster is continuing to improve every day. Martin went on to say that the team has focused on some fundamentals and that “each day we get out and perform the best we can.” Lexie Laurendine says that she feels her and her fellow freshmen are working on not having a freshman mentality, and working to play like they have been in the program for just as long as everybody else.

With such a young roster, the Choctaws have relied on some crucial leadership from players such as senior co-captain and libero Jill Brown, junior co-captain Shelby Grace Mays (who is expected back soon from an injury), and sophomore Brandi Bundy. Martin, who was also mentioned as a leader, spoke to how important a period this past spring, when only the handful of returning players were around, has been to building the camaraderie between the returners that was then passed on to the freshmen when they arrived.

The squad has worked hard on keeping the tempo and energy up in practice, even in the middle of a grueling season. Coach Laurendine said, “We’ve worked really hard, the girls are improving every day.” She also mentioned how important good practice is after tough losses. Freshman Lexie Laurendine said, “When we first come in, we try to have positive and consistent enthusiasm throughout the day.”

Martin and both Laurendines spoke to how important communication has been to the team throughout the first half of the season. Martin also talked about the connection the team has worked on though drills throughout the different positions and different experience levels.

The Lady Choctaws currently have a 7-9 record about halfway through the season. They have a road trip to Georgia (to play Valdosta State and West Georgia) scheduled on September 28th and 29th. They then return back to AE Wood Coliseum for a big GSC home stand that starts October 2nd against West Alabama. The home stand includes matches against Alabama-Huntsville and the Crohn’s Awareness game against Montevallo on Saturday October 6th.

Lexie Laurendine spoke about a mantra the team has called “finish empty.” This refers to leaving all of their energy and effort on the court and finishing with an empty tank. If the Lady Choctaws get some players back from injury, get continued development from their youngsters and buy into finishing empty, then they really could turn their season around and surprise the GSC in the 2nd half of the season.

Camaraderie Carries the Choctaws By: Damon Wright

In the history of sports, there have been many good teams: teams that have enough talent to take themselves deep into a playoff or tournament in hopes of playing for a national championship and realizing the dream of being immortalized in the history books as the best team of that specific year. These good teams can be celebrated and praised for their achievements, but they come up just short of greatness. There is a fine line between a good team and a great team, and in many instances, that line is the camaraderie present on a team.

The Mississippi College Men’s Soccer team is led by head coach Kevin Johns, who is in his 16th year at the helm of the program, and he has recognized the strong feeling of teamwork has enveloped the team, on and off the pitch: “The depth and camaraderie of this team has been a massive boost for us … it is a hard working group of guys that care about each other; they do a lot of things off the field and they get along together and it really carries over to the field, and I think that is one of our biggest positives,” said Johns.

The team is currently 4-2 and is coming off a huge GSC win over rival Delta State, a game in which the Choctaws came behind from a 2-0 deficit to win by golden goal in the 107th minute. The Choctaws will have a stretch of 8 GSC games to finish out the season, which will begin Friday against the Shorter Hawks and Sunday against the Lee Flames. Both games will be at home, weather permitting.

Junior defender Connor Johnson has been happy with how the team has performed so far but is looking for improvements as the season progresses: “I think it has been up and down; we have had the highest of highs like beating #9 West Alabama at home, but we have also had the lowest of lows, losing against Alabama Huntsville, and then a big win against Delta State. It has been up and down; we would like to have a little more consistency,” Johnson said.

This consistency will be needed for this bout of GSC matches, which includes a 5-game stretch where the Choctaws will not be on the home pitch. Though the games will be a difficult, wins will be crucial, and senior forward Joshua Robinson says that the team is prepared for the challenge ahead: “We’re ready. We have a few training sessions before our game against Shorter; we are hitting the ground running, we are going strong as a unit, and we are eager and excited to see what the future holds,” Robinson said.

Robinson, who also received GSC player of the week honors at the beginning of September, is looking to see the team improve mentally for the remainder of the season: “Usually what I would say needs improving is having cohesion, but we already have that strength and unity, so the most important thing to me is our mental game — going out there with the hunger and the passion I feel like we have been lacking, but it can improve,” said Robinson.

Coach Johns is confident with this team, especially going into the most important stretch of the season. Johns says that the depth of the team is something he has never seen before and that will be a big help to finish the season: “Every game in this conference is extremely important. I have told the guys multiple times that pretty much every game is the championship because every game has so much meaning. It is a one game at a time mentality … the depth is so strong and will be crucial for these games, and we are confident that we can bring in anybody off the bench, and they can before just as good as the guy in front,” said Johns.

Connor Johnson is excited for the future of MC soccer and looks to leave a mark of success on an already established powerhouse program: “Hopefully the future holds a regular season championship and then a conference championship. My freshman year we won the regular season, and we just hope to win a championship this season. That is our main goal,” Johnson said.

Senior Joshua Robinson has given his all to this program and has the same goal in mind: “I want to be remembered as that one British guy that came here and did his job and left with his head held high and hopefully a ring around his finger,” Robinson said.

Tennis Preview by Sadie Wise

Mississippi College’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams kick off their spring season on Monday, Feb. 12. The teams will make a short trip to Jackson to take on the Jackson State University Tigers for their first matches of the year.

David Boteler is getting ready to enter his 21st season as head coach for the men’s and women’s tennis teams at Mississippi College. Coach Boteler has experience in both Division II and Division III, as he has lead the Choctaws throughout the years in transition. Boteler managed to take his teams to the Gulf South Conference Championship last season, just a few years after moving up from Division III to Division II in 2014.

One thing MC’s tennis program isn’t lacking this year: leadership. Both the men’s and women’s rosters are packed full of seniors. On the men’s team there are 7 seniors, while 5 of the women as ready to take on their senior seasons. Two of those upperclassmen are Katie Reid and Sanders Barrick.

“It’s different this year, it’s my last one,” Reid said. P and workouts have been the same as usual as they prepare for the upcoming season, but the difference is Reid’s mindset going into the season as a senior. Reid is telling herself to “give it your all” as she awaits her last go-around as a part of the Choctaw team. One of her personal goals for this season is to be able to encourage the team. “We have really good recruits this year, and we’re going to be a really good team, so I want to be able to encourage and be there for them.”

As far as overall team goals, Reid says that the biggest focus for the Lady Choctaws is to be able to be one of the best teams in the GSC by the end of the season. “I’m expecting us to be towards the top,” Reid said.

The senior leadership role is very important for Reid. “A lot of us are seniors, we’ve been there, and we’re experienced,” she said. As she gets ready to enter her fourth and final season as a Choctaw, Reid says her favorite part about being a part of the team are the road trips. “The uniqueness of having a family away from home, that’s been the best part for me.”

Another Choctaw senior is Sanders Barrick. Barrick came to Mississippi College as a freshman just three and a half years ago, having grown up with a family of tennis players and athletes. “My brother played tennis, my mom played tennis, my dad was a basketball player, and they were all pretty much college athletes.” Being the youngest in his family, Barrick says finishing up his final season at MC means a lot. “It’s like an ending of a book for my family,” the senior said.

“It’s gone by fast,” Barrick said of the arrival of his senior season. “I remember walking in here and talking to Coach about attending school here, fast forwarding to now, I’ve loved every bit of it.”

As far as preparing for this season, Barrick feels that the coaches have prepared him and the rest of the players for the start of the season by having two-hour practices each day along with strength and conditioning throughout the week. Barrick also mentioned the importance of the guys working out on their own time as well. “We all work our hardest, and that’s how we prepare.”

Staying in the doubles line-up and just simply staying healthy are two of Barrick’s personal goals for the year. Like the women’s team, the men are working toward making an appearance in the GSC Conference Championship again this year.

In 2017, the women made it to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, while the men were able to push through to the semi-finals. “It all depends on conference play, and where we finish. The top 8 teams make the playoffs,” Coach Boteler said. Last year, both the men and women finished fourth in the conference.

As for the seniors on the team, Coach Boteler says “it’s always kind of bittersweet.” Boteler explained that there is excitement around bringing new players in, though. “We have 3 new girls this year, which will give us the most depth we’ve had.”

Coach Boteler has high expectations for both teams this year. He says the ultimate goal for the men and women this season is to finish top 2 in the GSC. “It’s a tough conference.”

With key contributors returning from last year, both the Men’s and Women’s teams should be able to clinch spots in the playoffs for the second year in a row. Both Choctaw teams face their first conference rival, the West Alabama Tigers at home on Feb. 28.

[cr1]iminate the she said


Another College Rivalry Story By Madison Brown

When you think college sports, you think rivalry. Ole Miss and Miss. State. Alabama and Auburn. Michigan and Ohio. Rivalries that extend into areas not even related to sports, and Mississippi College has one, too. A rival so big that even wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is considered treason. Hashtags and buttons that read #bEATtheOkra can be found all over campus and on social media starting a week before game day. So who is our rival?

Delta State.

This rivalry goes back decades. The two schools have competed in almost every major sport starting as early as the 1930s. Before the Choctaws left the Gulf South Conference in 1996, the competition between these two teams was intense, but now back at Division II, Mississippi College students and the Clinton area have been reminded of just how big this rivalry is.

Athletic director, Mike Jones, said that MC alum had one thing on their minds when the Choctaws moved back to Division II, “Beat Delta State.” He said, “They knew how important it was. The renewal of this rivalry is great for athletics, for the state, and for both of these schools.” Convincing students to get involved however, is a different story.

Mississippi College and Delta State have always fought for the Gulf South Conference championship title, and assistant athletic director, David Nichols said it’s always nice to have “bragging rights over your rival team.” He said, “We’re trying to get our student athletes to appreciate the rivalry and get back to what it once was in the 80s and 90s.”

The younger generations don’t remember how intense the rivalry was before the Choctaws left the GSC. Don Lofton, head coach for the men’s basketball team, said that since the Choctaws have moved back to Division II, hopefully the rivalry mindset will come back as well. “I think interest from the fans will grow.” He said it’s healthy for MC athletics to compete in such a rivalry because the athletes and coaches look forward to facing the Statesmen.

For former choctaw football players like Dr. Jim Turcotte, this rivalry is personal. “When I was a student, they were our number one rival. We prepared for them all year.” Like others, Turcotte hopes that students will learn more about the history of the rivalry and invest into it as years go by. He said, “They don’t understand how important it was for us to beat Delta State when we were athletes. We didn’t care if we won another game all year, as long as we beat Delta State.”

This isn’t just a rivalry on the basketball court or the football field though. It’s a battle on the recruitment field, too. Delta State and Mississippi College are the only Division II schools in the state which means they’re constantly fighting for recruits. Coach Lofton said, “In college athletics it comes down to players. Beating Delta State would help us gain back the respect we need in the athletic program.” MC athletes recognize the rivalry as well.

Sophomore, Choctaw women’s basketball player, Kaitlyn Thompson is from Cleveland, Miss and she understands the weight of a game against Delta State. “Coach Duke tells us that every game is important and that this game is no different. You have to have the mindset to play every game your hardest, but this game is a little more personal.” She said that having friends and family from her hometown cheer against her team just makes her work even harder to get a win.

Going into last week’s basketball game against Delta State, seniors like Antonio Johnson really wanted a win. In his four year career at MC, Johnson has only won once against the Statesmen. He said, “To win against them while I’m a starter would mean so much more to me than people understand.” Even freshman Lauran Sheriff understands the importance of a victory over Delta State. She said, “We know they’re tough, they’re quick, and they’re of course our rival team which means we have to beat them.”

In their first meeting of the 2017-18 season, the Choctaw men and women’s basketball teams played a tough game against the Statesmen but were unable to pull away with a win. Since returning to the GSC in 2014, the Lady Choctaws have only won twice against the Lady Statesmen. For the men’s team, the Choctaws have only won once in the last four years.

Although the Choctaws were defeated by the Statesmen last Saturday, both the men and women are looking forward to their next meeting on February 22 where the Choctaws will compete in their final regular season game against Delta State in Cleveland, Miss.

Choctaws vs. Statesmen. It’s a traditional rivalry, but one that is well-respected across the state. A rivalry that began many decades ago, and one that will forever have Choctaw fans cheering, “Beat Delta State!”


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