Natchez enjoys banner sports week

Published 1:51 am Sunday, August 1, 2010

In the history of Natchez athletics, I can’t imagine a week that was much better than the one that just ended.

It was a week that saw Natchezians honored and recognized on a statewide and even national level.

From young baseball players to a former All-American college football player to a golfer living a dream, this past week was one that Natchez can be proud of.

It all started with the play of the Natchez Dixie Youth 12-year-old All-Star team.

The team had breezed through every tournament it had played in, winning sub-district, district and south state.

And at the Mississippi Dixie Youth State Tournament in Hattiesburg, the team got its grandest prize of all — a state championship.

It wasn’t easy, as the team lost to Canton on Tuesday night, but they came back the very next night to win the state championship against Magee doing what they have done all summer — pitching well, playing good defense and getting timely hits.

Natchez pitcher Tyler Wilson held Magee to just one hit and Natchez scored six runs in the top of the sixth inning to pull away for an 11-3 win.

Natchez will now compete in the Dixie Youth World Series, which begins next weekend in Gonzalez, La.

While the Natchez 12-year-olds were winning a state championship, Tom Bryant, the Beau Pré golf pro, was having the experience of a lifetime at the U.S. Senior Open in Seattle.

Bryant qualified for the major tournament by winning a state qualifying tournament and was the only player from Mississippi in the field.

Bryant had an amazing experience, signing autographs for children, playing golf with well-known professionals most of us will only see on television and playing golf on one of the country’s finest golf courses in a national event.

Bryant played relatively well for someone competing in only his third United States Golf Association event and his first major tournament.

He shot a score of 79 on both Thursday and Friday for a total of 18 over par, missing the cut by eight strokes.

However, he’ll always be able to tell his friends he posted a better score than former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller, who carded 19 over par for his two rounds.

He’ll also have a lifetime of memories to look back on.

The capper to Natchez’s glorious athletic week was the induction of native son Allen Brown into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Brown was an All-American tight end for Ole Miss in 1964 and played for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, winning the first two Super Bowls.

Brown is a genuine and humble man, and gave credit to his friends in Natchez for helping him be inducted.

“People were writing letters trying to get me in,” Brown said. “Friends are the best thing a person can have, and I had a lot of support from them. Without them, I doubt I can get in.”

Brown’s honor put a cap on a tremendous week for Natchez sports, and reminded everyone just how great of a sports town Natchez really is.

We should all be proud to be represented by these great athletes, not just for their athletic accomplishments, but for the grace, sportsmanship and humility they displayed in garnering those accomplishments.

They truly are role models for the rest of us.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at sports@natchezdemocrat.com, or by phone at 601-445-3632.