ACCS’ Watts receives first Bruce Pickle Memorial Scholarship
NATCHEZ — Kaleb Watts became the first Adams County Christian School athlete to receive the Bruce Pickle Memorial Scholarship last month.
Watts, who played center and defensive tackle for the Rebels last season while maintaining a 3.6 GPA, was selected by the coaching staff to receive a scholarship created by Ed Pickle in commemoration of his brother, Bruce.
Bruce died in June 2012. Following Bruce’s death, Ed felt compelled to create a scholarship to carry on his brother’s legacy, which includes coaching a 1992 softball state title with the Rebels.
“He was very fond of ACCS, and they were very fond of him, as well,” Ed said.
Ed met with ACCS headmaster and head football coach David King, and in 2014, Ed created a criteria that he wanted the coaches to follow before selecting the first recipient. The criteria read: “The Bruce Pickle Memorial Scholarship should be given to a high school senior athlete who demonstrates Christ-like characteristics of selflessness and displays hustle on and off of the playing field.”
The ACCS coaching staff conformed and decided Watts was to be given the $1,000 scholarship.
“It’s a great honor to be the first person to get it,” Watts said. “Even if I was the second or last person to get it, it’s still an honor.”
Watts said he unfortunately didn’t know Pickle, but the stories he heard were boundless.
King said that Pickle would have been proud that Watts was chosen for the award, as Watts displayed the characteristics of a leader by spending countless hours in the weight room and the practice field.
“Kaleb is one of the finest guys you’ll meet,” King said. “He’s a hard worker and was a very good locker room guy.”
After coaching a state championship in softball in 1992, Pickle coached at Rebel Academy and won a basketball state championship in 1998.
Whest Shirley, who was good friends with Bruce and later coached with him at the Vidalia Junior High School, said Bruce was carefree, dedicated and shared a passion for sports like none other.
“I’ve never seen a man eat up with basketball like Coach Pickle was,” Shirley said. “In the ‘90s, it was sports in general that he was passionate about. He was a basketball fanatic. He was never the tallest guy. He was probably 5’8” with a pair of heels on, but he played like he was 6’4.” He was tenacious.”
The Vidalia Junior High School also commemorates Bruce’s memory with the Pickle Award, which exemplifies teamwork, hustle, selflessness and the love of the game of basketball. Julian Wilson won the award in 2014.
As for Watts, he will attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College with aspirations to major in instrumentation and automotive technician. Watts is the son of Phillip and Kathy Watts.