NHS hosts spring banquet
NATCHEZ — Davion Ward fought through the ups and downs of several coaching changes, sticking to his plan of earning a four-year letterman in baseball.
The Natchez High School senior was awarded for his dedication Tuesday night at the school’s spring sports awards banquet. Not only was he acknowledged as a four-year letterman, but he was also named the team’s most valuable player.
For Ward, the effort was all about personal discipline in spite of some shaky circumstances during his high school career as a catcher.
“I think it shows great character that I stayed here no matter what,” Ward said. “With three coaches in four years, it’s tough, because you don’t know what to expect. To stick with it is a great thing.”
And he had some help, as teammates Jadarrius Williams and Derrian Johnson were always there to pick him up if he was ever having doubts, Ward added.
“We’ve been playing baseball together since T.M. Jennings,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way but to finish my high school career with those guys.”
Athletes from indoor and outdoor track, golf, tennis, softball, baseball and powerlifting received various awards from Tuesday’s ceremony. Amos James III, who recently signed with Ole Miss on a track scholarship, was named MVP for outdoor track and said he was happy to receive the recognition.
“It was an honor, thanks to God,” James said.
Prior to the awards ceremony, Derek Scott, assistant athletic director of facilities and strength and conditioning coach at Jackson State University, treated audience members to a speech. He stressed the importance of hard work and confidence — but not cockiness — in pursuing dreams that each athlete has.
“It’s important to give back to the youth and let them see a positive influence,” Scott said afterward. “It was a chance to use my personal life and experience to relate to young people.”
Scott said the essence of his message was that no one can take something for granted simply because God gave them the ability to do something.
“You can’t just rely on God-given talent,” Scott said. “It takes a lot of work, but if you do what you love and love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Using athletics to drive home that point is especially important, Scott said.
“Athletics is such a metaphor for life,” Scott said. “You experience highs and lows, and you learn how to interact and communicate with people in uncomfortable circumstances.”
James said he enjoyed Scott’s message and took it to heart.
“He was amazing,” James said. “He said things that young people should know and listen to.”
It also didn’t hurt that Scott was visiting the location of several former Bulldogs turned Tigers, such as former Jackson State wide receiver Rico Richardson.
“This is one of our pipelines,” Scott said. “These are some hard-working, smart, intelligent kids.”