One more look at 2013′s sports highlights
NATCHEZ — Joy, heartbreak, disappointment and satisfaction were just several emotions that defined the Miss-Lou world of sports in 2013.
Here’s a look back at the year’s biggest stories, as well as a couple of tidbits as we kick off 2014.
Henry “Doc” Woods’ death
Natchez lost an icon in the world of track and field the morning of Feb. 9. Longtime Natchez High School track coach Henry “Doc” Woods died battling cancer leaving behind a legacy as a beloved coach and friend to the many athletes he came in contact with.
Woods, winner of 19 state titles between Sadie V. Thompson, North Natchez and Natchez High schools, got the school’s track program on the map. Larry Wesley, current NHS track and field coach and a former athlete of Woods’, said he hasn’t quite gotten used to not having Woods around anymore.
“One thing we really miss is the energy he brought to the program and the community,” Wesley said. “He was a leader in many ways, and he will truly be missed.”
Wesley said Woods’ presence and advice would be missed as well. Late in the year, a motion was made at a Natchez-Adams School Board meeting to have the track at NHS named after Woods. Wesley said in early December Woods is more than deserving to have his named forever intertwined with the school’s track.
“He did more for track than anyone else, because he was around here longer than anyone else,” Wesley said.
Concordia Recreation District 3 complex is utilized
The new recreation complex in Vidalia played host to several youth baseball and softball tournaments over the summer, as well as a travel baseball tournament in early March.
Mike Bowlin, who heads up Concordia Dixie Youth, said the chance to host the ages 10 and 12 All-Star tournaments brought many compliments about the complex.
“It’s one of the nicest complexes in the state — that’s what all the people who came to the tournament told us,” Bowlin said. “Sixteen teams came in, and that’s the biggest Vidalia has ever had. They told us they wanted us to host more tournaments in the future. Out of all the fields in Louisiana, the ones in Alexandria are the only ones that could match our fields.”
Greg Young, head of the Vidalia Girls Softball League, said the three softball tournaments the complex hosted will hopefully make way for even more this year.
“We have enough room now to do more stuff,” Young said. “We have five fields on the girls’ side, and we used all five. The boys and girls programs are growing, and it’s been a joint effort.”
Beau Pré Country Club played host to the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic July 8-14, and the tour brought many locals out to interact with professional golfer
s looking to make a name for themselves.
The NGA Tour, the country’s longest-running developmental golf tour, returned to Natchez after a long hiatus. The tour, which was then known as the T.C. Jordan tour, visited the area annually from 1992 to 1998 but hadn’t returned since then.
Tournament chairman Woody Allen said the July visit by the NGA was a huge success.
“I think it was a great opportunity for the community and for the golf course to have them back in here after a long hiatus,” Allen said. “It was better than I had expected. We had a great turnout and a good field and good winners, and the Tour itself was very, very supportive of Natchez.”
Allen said all parties would like to bring the NGA Tour back next summer, but a scheduling conflict has complicated those plans.
“The Web.com Tour has an event in Kansas at the same
time we were having ours, and the Tight Lies Tour moved
two events to tie into that event,” Allen said. “About a third of our field was made up of the Tight Lies guys, so the NGA doesn’t know whether they can make the field big enough to support those dates.”
Because of that, Allen said the Tour is looking at different dates to possibly bring the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic back to Natchez this summer.
“It’s not that they don’t want to do it, and it’s not that we don’t want to do it, it’s just trying to get a date that will work for everyone,” Allen said.
Ferriday Gators’ World Series bid
The Ferriday Gators softball team won the Dixie Debs district and state title this summer before making it all the way to the Dixie Debs World Series in early August.
The Gators were a list of who’s who in the Miss-Lou softball world. The roster was comprised of former Cathedral standouts Mollie and Kimble Devening, Ginny Daggett and Payton Monticello, former Vidalia High School standouts Kennedy Beard and Laura Perilloux and Trinity Episcopal Day School’s Marty Lewis. Ellen Bairnsfather and Jody Duncan represented Monterey High School.
Veteran area softball coach Rut Horne, who at the time said he was considering stepping down from coaching after this past summer, coached the team. The Gators fell to Alexandria in the World Series.
“I think we had a good team,” Horne said. “This was a group of kids that had been to three World Series at different age groups. I think it was, by far, the most uniformly talented team I had ever coached. Pretty much all the girls who (wanted to play) had scholarship offers.”
Now that he’s had time to reflect, Horne said he has
reconsidered retiring from coaching.
“I’m thinking about doing it again,” Horne said. “I’ve recently started back working with some younger kids, so it looks like I may do it. I don’t know if it’ll me (as head coach) or me helping someone, but I enjoy it. It keeps me going.”
Trinity Episcopal Day School’s state title
This year’s Saints squad put up big numbers en route to a 13-0 season and an MAIS Class A state championship in November.
Trinity scored more than 40 points per game while yielding less than 10. Senior left guard/left tackle Conner Pressgrove said he’s still enjoying the fact that he can call himself a state champion.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing all the adversity we went through and how it came out,” Pressgrove said.
Pressgrove cited the Saints’ lack of depth — they had less than 25 players — as a major roadblock the team overcame.
“With how many players we had, I don’t think anyone expected us to do what we did,” Pressgrove said. “13-0 is big.”
Not all the news surrounding Trinity football was positive. Head coach Josh Loy was let go following the season after an alleged hazing incident between a few football players supposedly happened two weeks before the state title game.
“I think it put a damper on things,” Pressgrove said. “Coach Loy is a great coach, and in my opinion, I think it’ll put a big dent in the school. I know it hurts most of the younger players, and it hurts us (seniors), too, not being able to see him the rest of the year.”
Following Loy’s firing, the school hired Trinity alumnus Zach Rogel as head football coach in late November.