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Stump visits FHS

Eric J. Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Southern University head football coach Stump Mitchell speaks during the Ferriday High School Athletic Awards Banquet at the Concordia Community Center Thursday night.

ferriday — Athletes should always strive to be the best they can be, both on the field and in the classroom.

That was the message Southern University head football coach Stump Mitchell had for the student-athletes of Ferriday High School in the school’s athletic award banquet Thursday night.

The banquet took place at the Concordia Community Center, and Mitchell said in his speech that each athlete had the opportunity to determine his or her own future.

“You have to do extremely well in the classroom,” Mitchell said to the crowd. “You have to strive to be that No. 1 student as well as that No. 1 athlete.”

Mitchell said after the banquet that he accepted the offer to be Ferriday’s guest speaker in order to give back to the youth of the Ferriday community.

“I wanted to let them know that in order to continue their athletic progress, they need to do well in the classroom,” Mitchell said.

“You don’t want to limit your years of playing a sport because you haven’t taken care of business in the classroom.”

Mitchell is currently in the process of trying to rebuild at Southern, where he finished with a 2-9 record in 2010, his first year on the job. It was the worst record in school history, but Mitchell said the discipline he and his staff are instilling in his players will pay dividends for the program down the road.

One of the things Mitchell said he tries to teach his players is the importance of giving back to those that helped develop them as people and athletes. He said he wanted to send a similar message to the athletes at Ferriday.

“We want these young men to be able to come back and be important in their community, and the way to do that is to succeed academically,” Mitchell said.

“It’s the same at Southern. Most Historically Black Colleges, for whatever reason, don’t get a lot of support from their alumni. We want these young men to be appreciative that they’re having an opportunity to continue their education.”

After Mitchell’s speech, Ferriday athletic officials began honoring players from the football, boys basketball and girls basketball teams, as well as the cheerleading squads. All-purpose athlete DeVante Scott was named top the school’s top athlete, and the Lady Trojans’ Chante Poole was named top player for the girls basketball team.

Ferriday principal Michelle Bethea said she was glad Mitchell got to speak to the audience tonight, and that she would miss all of the graduating seniors.

“It was a memorable reflection, especially for those seniors,” she said. “I’ve known these students on a personal level since the ninth grade, so there’s a sense of sadness in seeing them leave.

“At the same time, there’s also a sense of happiness in seeing them succeed.”

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