Time back in Miss-Lou was unforgettable

Published 12:03 am Sunday, November 8, 2015

Passion, openness and honesty are what make the Miss-Lou a special place. Undoubtedly, it’s what I’ll miss the most.

Friday will mark my last day here as the sports editor, as I’ll be moving north at the end of the month.

Before I go, I have to talk about the amazing people I’ve gotten to work with during my last two years.

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Starting with the biggest school — Natchez High School — I’ve been blessed enough to pick the brain of Natchez basketball coach David Haywood, share numerous laughs with track coach Larry Wesley and talk Xs and Os with all the great football coaches that have come and gone at the school. The top “Dawg,” though, is Natchez girls coach Alphaka Moore. She is the brightest young coach in the game, and her accomplishments (back-to-back state championships) speak for itself. It pains me knowing I’ll miss out on the third straight, but I’ll be keeping up with Moore’s team from afar.

Moving over to Cathedral High School, the availability of the school has been unmatched. Every coach and school I’ve dealt with has made it incredibly easy for me to hang out and write feature stories on the student athletes, but only one coach is crazy enough to write his entire game plan on the board in his office with me sitting there. Head football coach Ron Rushing did this a few weeks back, and athletic director Craig “don’t put that in the paper” Beesley was getting a little antsy. From Rushing to Beesley to several others at the school, Cathedral is operated by the friendliest people you could meet, and I’ve never felt unwelcomed there.

Speaking of never feeling unwelcomed — Adams County Christian School headmaster David King would just about let me do any story I wanted at any given time I choose. King has done a remarkable job turning around the Rebels, and every day I talked to the charismatic coach, it was always the highlight of that day.

I never left Trinity Episcopal Day School without having a realistic outlook on how a game would play out. The reason for that was the honesty of Trinity head coach Zach Rogel. Even in uncomfortable circumstances, Rogel always took responsibility for his actions and handled every situation like a man. I always appreciated his honest take on all things involving his school.

Across the river, I’ve said since day one Vidalia High School’s Jeff Hancock inherited a bad situation when he took over as head coach, and he’s remained positive through it. Vidalia basketball coach Robert Sanders has one of the brightest basketball minds in the area, and no matter his team’s makeup, he’ll always be competitive. Though undersized again this year, I still look for big things out of the Vikings basketball team.

And if you’re talking about big things, the first school that comes to mind is Ferriday High School. It’s amazing that a 2A school has as much talent as Ferriday. I love watching other coaches see kids like Dare Rosenthal and Ja’Shon Foster for the first time. The pure disbelief on their face tells the story far better than I ever could. The great thing about Ferriday is the passion that goes into the football program. After the team lost 55-52 to Sterlington, I watched head coach Dwight Woods embrace every kid he could. Woods is a good man, and he’s a knowledgeable football coach that will one day get the team to perform to its potential.

And last but not least are the new guys over at Delta Charter School. I have to say it’s been sort of surreal working with Jarrett Hoffpauir. As a kid who grew up in Vidalia, I, like most my age, looked up to Jarrett, as he was a professional athlete that represented himself with the highest class. At Delta Charter, he’s teaching young players how to be a professional on and off the field, and that’s great for the community.

As I venture out and change communities, I only hope the new coaches I work with are as genuine and open as the ones I’ve worked with here. They’ve made my time back home unforgettable.


JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or jake.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.