From Hollywood to A.E Wood, Kendall Platt’s Star Keeps Getting Brighter. By Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor

The Mississippi College volleyball team has a new phenom from Hollywood. Freshman Kendall Platt has made an immediate impact for the Lady Choctaws, breaking a school record with 23 kills against Southern Arkansas and being the first MC volleyball player to be named GSC Freshmen of the Week since rejoining the GSC in 2014.

Platt has been vital part of Mississippi College’s success this season, and Lady Choctaws Head Coach Shawna Laurendine believes the best has yet to come. “I believe that record will be broken by her again. Kendall has done a great job for us; she is our 6th rotation outside, so she does not come off the floor,” said Laurendine.

Coach Laurendine knows how talented of a freshmen Platt is and tries to use her strengths to the best of her advantage. “Kendall brings a lot to us, she reads the court well, reads her opponents well, and she is a good size block for an outside hitter, which is rare” Laurendine said.

It’s not just the coaches who are impressed by Platt’s talents but the players also trust her to make plays. “In our offense, Kendall gets a lot of swings, and it’s because our setters trust her. We trust that she can put the ball away, and she has proven that she can do so,” said Laurendine.

Platt is from Anaheim, Calif., but the hospitality from Mississippi College has made her feel right at home. “It has definitely has been a big switch. Southern California is completely different from Mississippi, but it has been a lot of fun getting to know people here and getting to experience everything Mississippi has to offer. Everyone is so nice, caring and seems really genuine,” Platt said.

Southern California, unlike Mississippi, does not have rain often, and Platt says that she has enjoyed the rain the most. “The one big thing for me is the weather. It never rains in Southern California, so I absolutely love the rain. I ran through it the other day. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of fun,” said Platt.

Platt has been making it rain on the court, leading the team with 137 kills, including 23 against Southern Arkansas that broke a school record. “Kendall was on fire that day. The two matches before that, I believe she tied the school record with 20 kills. Her attempts doubled anybody else’s just because we keep feeding her the ball. She was in a different place and very in-tune that day” said Laurendine.

Coach Laurendine is just as impressed by Platt’s play off the court as on. “She is pretty low-maintenance. Kendall is a kid that comes to practice, goes to the cafeteria, and goes to class. She hangs out in her room or with her teammates. Kendall does not have to be doing something all the time. She is pretty chill,” Laurendine said.

Mississippi College will continue to need Platt to have outstanding performances, as GSC season is starting to heat up. The team is currently 5-6, and plays the number 10 team in the country, West Florida, this Friday in Clinton.

 

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On Pace for Greatness By: Damon Wright

One of the key components to a consistently successful program comes down to a little thing called attention to detail. Attention to detail, a frequent saying expressed by the Mississippi College head strength and conditioning Coach Michael Shumaker, is the constant notice and appreciation of the little things that make an entire unit function. The Mississippi College cross country lives by this saying, and it is shown not only through their performance on the trails, but also through the care taken by the team and especially by head coach Butch Ard.

 

Head Coach Butch Ard is entering his 14th season, and he still tends to the cross-country trails nearly every day. Coach Ard recently had surgery on his shoulder, and he is still out in the heat giving great care to the Choctaw Trails and has earned the respect of the team and seniors such as Jordan Pritchard: “Without Coach Ard Choctaw Trails would be in shambles. He does a phenomenal job maintaining the course everyday so we can use it for practice or if there is a meet that week.” Pritchard, a senior from Painesville, Ohio and a member of the 2017 GSC all conference second team, has seen major improvements in the program from the time when he transferred from Lake Erie College.

Pritchard has seen improvements not only on the trails, but in the hearts of every Choctaw on the team: “My favorite part is seeing how much our team has grown. We have improved so much athletically overtime, but also a lot of us have transformed our spiritual lives as well.” Pritchard has had a stellar career here at Mississippi College and looks to leave a legacy that will last a lifetime: “I hope to leave a legacy that will be remembered as being part of the first team in MC’s cross-country history to qualify for nationals,” said Pritchard.

Coach Ard has taken notice of not only the upperclassmen on both the men’s and women’s side, but also the newcomers to Mississippi College: “Something that stands out to me about the teams is the teamwork aspect; they all work together, they are great as a team. It’s not just the upperclassmen, but the freshmen as well. They have come in with an attitude that they want to do something big, and they are working really hard to make that happen.” Ard explained that freshmen runners Evan Del Rio and Gabe Poulin have already made an impact for the Choctaws on the men’s side, and Ard is still looking for some of the freshmen women to separate themselves from the pack.

Though this flock of newcomers has brought a new, youthful and inspiring feeling to the team, Ard still leans on his veterans for leadership and guidance: “Will Young, Sam Darnall, and Alex Gibson have taken the experience the past three years and are working well with these freshmen and guiding them in the right direction … they have done very well because you always want your upperclassmen to be able to do that … these guys have done an excellent job of bringing the freshmen along and teaching them the things that they are going to need to know to go a longer distance and get better in college competition; they have done a great job,” Ard said.

Pritchard also harkens back to the positive impact that the seniors have had on the team, specifically Will Young and Sam Darnall: “Will Young has played a huge role in being a leader to such a young team; he is filled with so much knowledge, and he’s great to go to for advice. Sam Darnall is equally as important; he is great at keeping us on track during workouts and is a great motivational leader.”

On the women’s side of the team, it is basically an entirely new group of girls attacking the trails. The Choctaws only have three returning runners from the 2017 season, but that does not mean the Choctaws will falter from their consistent success. Sophomore runner Alexis Dunn, who was the top finisher for the Lady Choctaws at the MC Season Opener, recognizes that each runner on the team brings their own skill set that works for the strengths of the team: “I think each runner has brought something special to our team this year. Since we have a small team, we really focus on taking advantage of each and every one’s strong characteristics and using it to preform our best at meets. Kimber Watson and Rachel Faulk have taken a great initiative in their training and racing, as we have only have three returning runners this year, and so we are very grateful for that,” said Dunn.

Dunn and the Lady Choctaws is also excited to compete once again at the Rhodes Invitational this coming up weekend: “The team is feeling great going into this meet! It’s our first time traveling this year, and so that is always a fun experience, but not only that, we have had 4.5 solid, hard weeks of training, and so we are ready to bring our A-game,” Dunn said.

Though the team will change each year, and bonds will both end and be created, Dunn is looking forward to experiencing the growth of the program and the team in the coming years: “In the next couple of years, I am really looking forward to growing the team and having those experienced runners. I think as we mature, we will be able to take a different approach in training and racing, and so I think that will be a big change,” said Dunn.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will be traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, to compete in the Rhodes Invitational on Saturday, September 15th, 2018. Both teams are excited for this meet, and they are looking forward to putting their talents on display on the trails in Memphis.

Meet MC’s Women’s Soccer Team Captain, Katie Taylor, By Marquisha Mathis

Just a young girl from Tupelo, Katie Taylor had a different route when it came to playing sports, but soon found a love for soccer that would change her life.

Taylor transferred from the University of Arkansas to Mississippi College at the end of her freshmen year and quickly found a role on the team. “I really did not know what to expect coming to MC, but it has been a great experience and really good soccer program. This is the most loving, encouraging atmosphere I could have asked for with a soccer program,” said Taylor.

Katie Taylor and her team have been getting back into the swing of things for this new season and are looking forward to this year. “I’m looking forward to finally getting that conference championship ring. We’ve been so close the last two seasons, and I’m looking forward to finishing this season,” Taylor said.

As captain of the team, Katie says sometimes you can get caught up in trying to be the best soccer player. She has tried to make being a captain be more about encouraging her teammates to be the best version of themselves on and off the field, and that is going to make the team the best it can be. “I feel like this team has a really good reputation at this school, in the conference, and even in the country, as one that works hard each and every day on and off the field, and we’re just trying to strengthen that reputation,” said Taylor.

Taylor loves spending time with her teammates because they know when it’s time to have fun and when it is time to focus. “My favorite part is that, even though we have a good time and love playing with each other, we know when it’s time to work hard,” Taylor said.

Besides soccer, Katie loves working out and staying active. She also really enjoys spending time with her teammates during free time. “We’re a really close group and love hanging out together off the field, as well,” Taylor said.

Katie Taylor is a redshirt junior and is majoring in Psychology. After college, Taylor would love to stay involved in athletics in some form or fashion. “Sports psychology is a tough field to break into, but that’s the goal. I would also love to be a coach in the future,” said Taylor.

 

Josh Robinson: GSC Player of the Week By: Sadie Wise

Mississippi College’s Joshua Robinson was named GSC Player of the Week after his top notch performance in the team’s season opener against Nova Southeastern. The senior forward is from London, England, and this is his fourth year being with the Choctaws. “I’m very happy about being named Player of the Week,” Robinson said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing where the season goes from here.”

Robinson has been playing soccer his entire life. “I’m from London, so since the age of 7 I’ve been kicking a soccer ball around outside. It’s our nation’s sport, so to not play soccer in England is crazy,” he said. “I never knew I wanted to play in America, though. It’s something I found out about when I was about 15. I started looking into it, and before I knew it, I was here.”

As far as choosing Mississippi College, Robinson said he loved the program, loved the style of coaching, and even considered the academic side as of things as well, as he is a general biology major, with a minor in marketing. “I was really impressed with this place as a whole, and I’m so happy I’m here,” he said.

Head Coach Kevin Johns says that Josh is a player that his teammates should look up to. “He’s been very patient. He’s getting his chance, and when he’s being called upon, he’s doing a good job,” Johns said.

Despite his solo award, Robinson praised his team for their accomplishments together and how far they’ve come over the last four years. “We know our strengths, we know our limits, and I believe we have what it takes to go far this season,” he said. “We really are more of a family than just a team, and I love being a part of it” said Robinson.

“Being on this team has given me identity, being so far away from home, and not having family out here, these guys have become my family. I’d die for my team. I’d put everything on the line for them, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they’d do the same for me,” Robinson said. “Being on this team is everything for me, it gets me through the day.”

Robinson says one of the things he’ll miss most about being on this team is the dancing. “We have this thing at the beginning of practice where Coach claps and the last person in has to dance. We’ve had some amazing dancers, but then others who make you question the very definition of dance,” Robinson said.

Being a leader is something Robinson is looking forward to this season as well. “It kind of happened overnight,” he said. “I still remember my very first practice, and now I’ve blinked and I have freshmen who look up to me and ask me for advice. It’s given me a lot of responsibility that I like. I really want to make sure the freshmen feel comfortable and included,” Robinson said.

The senior has high expectations for his team this year. “Being responsible and holding each other accountable to our strengths and weaknesses [is an expectation]. We know when we set out against any eleven that we play that we have the depth, ability, and talent to beat any team that we face.”

Choctaws Start Off 2018 Season With A Bang, Edge Clark Atlanta 31-30 By Josh Clark

Heroes can come in all shapes and sizes. A hero might be a large, green Hulk tearing through a city. Then again, it might also be a small but faithful David taking down a heaping Goliath, but heroes, whether likely or unlikely, can be found in any number of scenarios. That includes the first game of a football season for a team with a serious desire and need to prove themselves.

The Mississippi College Choctaw football team welcomed the Clark Atlanta University Panthers to Clinton, Miss. on Thursday night to kick off their 2018 season. It marked the second year in a row that the two teams opened their respective seasons squaring off against each other, with the Panthers claiming last year’s game on their home field with a 32-29 overtime win. The loss kickstarted what would eventually turn into a disappointing 1-9 finish for the Choctaws in 2017 that left the team once again searching and hungry for more.

But with a fresh season and opportunity came new coaches, new schemes, new talent, and an overall new outlook. All of that was put on display on Thursday night in front of an incredibly rowdy, energetic, and paint-covered crowd at Robinson-Hale Stadium that shared the same hopes and aspirations as the team itself.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. In fact, there was a fair amount of palm-sweating and nail-biting that went into Thursday’s contest, specifically for the Choctaws. And with 43 seconds remaining in the game and Clark Atlanta down by one point but sitting 28 yards from the MC end zone, the Choctaws found themselves a hero as junior cornerback Elijah Rogers sealed the deal with a clutch interception at the five-yard line. The mass of spectators rapidly lost their minds, the Choctaw offense slipped into the victory formation, and MC shut the door on the misfortunes of 2017 with a winning start to the 2018 year.

“I was actually looking for the ball to come to me,” Rogers said of his late-game heroics. “Fourth and one, they should’ve come out for the field goal. I was looking for it. They had run the post all day. I was looking for it, and coach called the right play.”

Rogers ended up playing a big role in the Choctaw victory, tallying two interceptions and eight solo tackles on the defensive side of the ball. His interception was the icing on the cake in a hard-fought game by a Choctaw team that needed a win not only to appease the fans in attendance, but also to feed their own drive.

It was a game of firsts for many different areas on the Mississippi College side of things, which only added to both the intensity and uncertainty of a first game of the year against a team that owned bragging rights.

The Choctaws debuted the triple-option setup on offense, junior quarterback Detric Hawthorn (a transfer from Jones Community College) made his first start in an MC uniform, and the team set a new wave of talent in motion with the first contest.

Some parts of their new picture looked good. Others looked as though they could still use some work or sanding around the edges.

Hawthorn looked rather comfortable in his first start, rushing for 145 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries and completing six passes on 13 attempts for 111 yards. He did make some costly mistakes, though, throwing an interception and playing a part in a fumble that led to 10 points going in the other direction. But overall, his composure was solid, he used his speed to his advantage (including on a third-and-short play that turned into a 61-yard sprint), and gave the Choctaws a reputable asset under center.

The triple-option is a challenging and precise style of offense to learn and can come with growing pains for any team trying to harness it. The Choctaws dealt with those pains on Thursday night, with a few fumbles and interceptions that maybe chopped up to nothing more than miscommunication, but they found a way to trudge through and turn the pains into something positive.

Senior running back Tiberias Lampkin collected 90 yards on 16 carries. Senior wide receiver Chakel Gates caught two passes for 47 yards. Junior defensive back Turner Rotenberry returned an 87-yard interception to the end zone for a touchdown early on that helped MC maintain the flow of the game.

A handful of different players, both new and returning, found a way to pitch in and keep the Choctaws out in front in the race. And even when the Panthers scored to take the lead with 10:15 to go in the game, no hope had been lost (as it might have been in years past). The fans were still alert and locked in, the team was still focused and hungry, and the drive to the finish line was a big one.

It was a game that no story can tell all too well. Instead, it was one that had to be lived out in order to fully appreciate both the happenings and results.

MC may have been outgained in yardage by a mark of 416-349. They also might have turned the ball over a few times too many and almost lost the game in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, but they had a hero waiting to seal the deal, and he rose to the occasion when he was needed.

This first showing was a chance for MC to introduce plenty of new aspects to their play and see them in an actual game setting. The fact that they also found a way to win the game amidst all of the challenges associated with an uphill climb just goes to show that maybe this MC football team really IS ready to prove something this season.

“We practiced the plays, we executed when it was time to, and that’s what you come out with: a victory,” Rogers said amidst a chorus of chants shortly after the game ended.

Thursday night’s game included exciting new beginnings, a raucous home crowd, a final stand for the ages, a Choctaw football team building hype through a first glimpse at their potential, and a victory to start the season on an ultimately positive note. It’s everything you could ever want in a football game.

The next ten games feature tougher competition and a much higher bar to reach, including a Saturday evening showdown with Southwest Baptist, who will make the trek from Missouri to Robinson-Hale Stadium this weekend.

But if this win proved anything, it’s that the Choctaws are once again out to prove something. The only difference is that this year, they made it immediately known on the scoresheet.

This Saturday offers a new challenge and an opportunity to continue building on success. The first game nerves are out of the way, the Choctaws know what they must improve on, and they will have over a week to tidy things up. By the time Saturday rolls around and Southwest Baptist arrives, it will once again be time for MC to show off their potential and prove themselves.

And who will the hero of game two be? That’s anyone’s guess at this point. But after Thursday night’s show, one thing is clear: you won’t want to miss the second act.

Men’s Soccer prepares for a tough non-conference schedule By Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor

The Mississippi College Men’s soccer team started last season off with an 8-0-1 record but injures and tough losses kept the Choctaws out of the NCAA tournament. MC hopes to stay healthy this season with a roster that has a talented group of freshmen and a veteran core. Coach Kevin Johns believes that this team can get back into the NCAA tournament.

“We are going to be more dependent on a lot of newcomers than we were in the past. We do a have a good solid core returning, but we recruited and brought in 17 new players. The program is going to have to be depended on some of these players to step in and contribute really quickly for us to be successful,” said Mississippi College Head soccer Coach Kevin Johns.

A major reason for the Choctaws’ end of the season struggles were injuries. Junior defender Conner Johnson believes that the team has to stay healthy this season to be successful. “Towards the end of the season, we got a little unlucky against West Alabama. We lost at home to them, and then we started picking up some injuries. We have to make sure this season that our bodies are recovering, and we are taking care of our bodies. We have to do everything possible to make sure that we are staying healthy,” Johnson said.

This Mississippi College team is different from years past. They are younger with 17 freshmen, but Johnson sees the team being closer than ever though. “I think our team chemistry is great this season, we have been hanging out as much as we can. For example, we went bowling a couple weeks ago, and that was a great team event. We all bowled 300’s, if you we wondering. We are closer this season than the past two years, and we do not have too many cliques,” said Johnson.

MC will have to rely on that close team chemistry to start the season, as their first 4 games are on the road. Coach Johns views those 4 games as a test to see where his team is, and who they will be able to rely on. “Our first 4 games we go on the road to Florida for two, and Arkansas for two. It will get us tough and ready for GSC play. Those 4 games will be for us to see who can we depend on, any changes of formation that we need, and what players will step up and make goals for us,” Coach Johns said.

Kevin Johns is the winningest head coach in Mississippi College men’s soccer history, and even with a lot of newcomers the expectation remains the same: win the GSC and get into the NCAA tournament. “Our conference has a lot of parity, so if you don’t reload you will get beaten pretty handily. The returners know we were not that far off last year, so it’s not like we have a lot that we have to change to be competitive in the GSC this year. I expect us to be competitive in the conference again this year,” Coach Johns said.

After facing 4 non-conference road games to start the year, the Choctaws will come back home to face the 4-time defending GSC champions West Alabama in the GSC opener.

 

New Year, New Coach, Same Goal By: Damon Wright

The 2018-2019 school year has begun and there is a new intoxicating aura of positivity on the Mississippi College campus. MC has ushered in Dr. Blake Thompson as its new president; he brings a youthful excitement with him and is looking to take the university to heights it has never been before. The football team has revamped on the offensive side of the ball with the addition of offensive coordinator Tommy Laurendine, and the team is looking as good as ever, and the class of 2022 has made its way onto the campus, along with other transfer students, setting MC for one of its best years ever.

The class of 2022 also brings in 12 new players on the volleyball team. This is more than half of the entire squad for the lady Choctaws, and they are already making a difference on the team.

Freshmen Outside Hitter Kendall Platt, in only her fourth game wearing the blue and gold, set the single match kill record with 23 kills in a tournament match against Southern Arkansas. She also recently received GSC freshman of the week on Wednesday, but these accolades are extra motivation for her to improve every day: “I’m not going to lie, it feels good, but it just means I am going to have to work harder in the future to match or beat that record … I have to keep up the effort. There is definitely more work ahead” said Platt.

Though the Lady Choctaws have added multiple new assets on the team, it was very easy for the players to build a tight knit relationship that is shown both on the court and off the court. Fall camp played an integral part in the team camaraderie and has made the team closer as a whole. Senior Defensive Specialist Jill Brown knows that the team is all in, and looks to push for success this season. “Fall camp was definitely challenging, but it brought us very close as a team; we had 12 newcomers on the team so it was basically a new team, but we all bought in from the first day, and we were like a family from the first day.” Brown, the lone senior for the Lady Choctaws, looks to leave her mark, both on the stat sheet and in the hearts of those that are around her. “I want to be the grittiest DS in the conference and get on the top ten for digs in a match and single season digs … I want people to remember that I am gritty, and I have amazing energy that everyone can feed off of: the fans, the team, even the trainers. I want to be known for contagious energy,” said Brown.

 

The new head coach for the Lady Choctaws is Shauna Laurendine. She is coming from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and has smoothly transitioned from Division 3 to Division 2. “It’s been great; the change here has been good, we were ready for a change as a family, going from division 3 to division 2 gives you a lot of different athletes, but I’m excited to be in the Gulf South Conference.”

Laurendine has already made a huge impact on the team not only as a coach, but also as a person. Platt praised her for her interest in having a close relationship with all her players. “She has been awesome, she really makes an effort to get to know each person individually, not just as a player, but also as a person, so it really helps to know that she is there for us.” The transition for Laurendine has been very easy due to the strong bond that the Lady Choctaws share on a daily basis. “These girls work really hard, and they are just a great group of girls … they just stay together as a team, they all love each other, and they hang out on and off the court. It builds great chemistry and that is the culture we want here,” said Laurendine.

Laurendine also has high praises for her captains and the type of leaders they are. “Shelby Grace Mays is probably our biggest leader on and off the court. She’s very positive and full of life, and the girls really respond to her well. Jill Brown has done a great job on the court with defense … everyone has done great job, it is difficult to pick just two out of this great group of girls,” Laurendine said.

The Lady Choctaws are currently sitting at a record of 2-2 and are heading to Arkansas on Friday, August 29th. The Lady Choctaws will open up conference play against the Tigers of West Alabama on September 11th and will play their home opener against the Argos of West Florida on September 14th.

Mississippi College Women’s Soccer team is ready to compete for the GSC Title By Elliot Reeder

The Mississippi College Women’s Soccer team made great strides a season ago, finishing 2nd in the GSC Conference Tournament and earning a spot in the NCAA Regionals with a 15-4-1 record, but Head Coach Darryl Longabaugh is making sure his team doesn’t get too focused on last year’s results, including two tough postseason losses to end the season, saying, “Our first game is against Saint Leo this Friday at 4:30, and we have to focus on them…” The mantra of last season not bearing too much weight in the Choctaws’ mind was not lost on midfielder and team co-captain Katie Taylor, who said, “I think every season, the job is to build from the last one, but also we can’t hold onto that season.” She went on to say that they’ve taken lessons and learned from the losses but aren’t holding onto them.

 

Both Coach Longabaugh and Katie Taylor believe this Choctaw team can have a great season.  Taylor said that the team will take the season one step at a time but that she has NCAA tournament aspirations for the team.  Coach Longabaugh said, “We can go as far as we will take ourselves.” He also went on to say, “We have the ability to do the exact same thing we did last year; it’s just a matter of desire and really, injuries.” He also said that he believes the team could win the GSC.

 

Katie Taylor led the team with 5 assists last season and added 3 goals, and she said this year her individual goal is to “…have some kind of impact on every game, whether it’s an assist, or a goal, or just any way I can help the game more.” She also talked about how important her job as a team captain is, as a bridge between the coaches and players, and between the players while on the field.

 

Both Coach Longabaugh and Taylor both insisted on how important the team’s leadership would be, especially in the midfield.  The team returns just over 90% of its goal production from last season, and both of the teams captains (Katie Taylor and Samantha Carson) are midfield players.  Coach Longabaugh also mentioned Liza Wise and Lauren Dodge as two other Choctaws who had stepped up into leadership roles.  The Choctaws also return one of the best goalkeepers in program history in Andrea McDonald (who earned All-GSC and All-Region honors last season).  Taylor said one of her favorite parts about the team returning so many critical players from last season is the team chemistry and that they’re “clicking better than ever.”

Even with a lot of returners, the Lady Choctaws will rely on a couple of newcomers to get some crucial minutes early, such as freshmen defenders Abbie Hanna and Marisa Saunders, freshman forward Dani Avelar and Alcorn State transfer Rita Okoro.

The Choctaws will open up the season with 4 non-conference games, before heading to the state of Alabama to open up GSC play with two games against West Alabama (September 14th) and Alabama-Huntsville (September 16th), respectively.  All in all, the Lady Choctaws play 17 regular season games with 13 of them coming against GSC opponents, then the GSC conference tournament opens up on October 30th with the GSC “Super Tuesday” at campuses across the GSC, and then picks back up that weekend in Montgomery, AL with the GSC semifinals and the GSC tournament championship game.

The Lady Choctaws hope to build off of last season’s successes and momentum, but will head into this season knowing it is a new year with new challenges.  An experienced Choctaw team with some talented newcomers mixed in will hope to go even further than last year and accomplish a whole new set of goals.

Seeing Double By: Sadie Wise

Fall semester is in full swing at Mississippi College, which can only mean one thing: football season is upon us. With the start of a new school year comes the beginning of a new athletic year as well. The Choctaws have added a new offensive coordinator, Coach Tommy Laurendine. Coach Laurendine is joining the Mississippi College family for his first season as offensive coordinator. With a new name on the coaching staff, the Choctaws are also implementing a new offensive. New athletes have also joined the program as well. This year though, something else is out of the ordinary for the Choctaws. There are three sets of twins on the roster.

That’s right, the Mississippi College football team has three sets of twins all on the roster this season.

One set of identical twins are transfers from Jones County Junior College, Detric and Derric Hawthorn. Detric plays quarterback for the Choctaws, while his brother plays defensive back. “I go by Fat; he goes by Runt,” Derric said. These brothers have always grown up playing sports together. Derric says that he hopes he and his brother can work together to be a big help to the team, but the brothers are still competitive with one another. “I’d say I’m the better athlete. I can play any position on the field,” Derric said. Detric explained that his love for playing quarterback started at a young age. “Ever since peewee, my coach tried me at quarterback, and I liked it. During middle school, coach moved me to wide receiver, and I didn’t like that. My eleventh grade year, I got moved back to quarterback. I told my coaches I didn’t wanna get recruited for anything besides quarterback. I love it,” he said. Although the boys are identical, Derric says he doesn’t think they look alike. “I’m definitely the better looking twin,” Derric said. Looking forward to their first season with the Choctaws, the Hawthorn twins are excited to try to get some wins on the board for Coach Bland, coming off a 1-9 season last year. “That’s what we came here for, to try to turn things around,” Derric said. “We think we can be a big help to the team.”

The Choctaws’ set of fraternal twins, Ja’Moz and Ja’Mori Mark, are both transfers from East Mississippi Community College. These brothers are the easiest to tell apart, and their classifications in school are different as well. Ja’Moz is a senior, while Ja’Mori is only a junior. Ja’Moz plays wide receiver, and his brother plays running back. “We really hope the team can be more of a brotherhood, and that we can actually get on the right track to win some games,” Ja’Moz said.

The third set of twins to join the Mississippi College football team this season are from Batesville, Miss., and transferred in from Northwest Mississippi Community College. They are identical like the Hawthorns. Turner and Cole Rotenberry are pretty easy to tell apart too, since Turner has long hair, and Cole’s is cut short. “It looks cool flowing out of the back of the helmet,” Turner, who plays defensive back, said. “I had mine long, but I had to cut it. It got too hot,” Cole said. Cole, like Ja’Mori, plays running back. Turner and Cole admitted to always knowing they wanted to play together at the collegiate level. “If they didn’t get me, they weren’t getting him,” Turner said. “We talked about it, and we decided if one of us got a better offer, we would take it. We could still FaceTime and text every day. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal,” Cole said.

Many changes are coming in the football program at Mississippi College, and the twins are all excited for what’s to come.

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