Former Miss-Lou athletes make careers out of passion for sports
Published 10:29 am Saturday, July 25, 2020
NATCHEZ — Three former Miss-Lou athletes have made careers out of their passion for sports.
Jason Munz, Chris Whitehead and Rodney Lloyd all played high school sports in the Miss-Lou. Both Munz and Whitehead attended Cathedral High School. Munz played baseball and Whitehead played football. Whitehead graduated from Cathedral in 1998 and Munz graduated from Cathedral in 1999.
Lloyd played football at Ferriday High School and graduated in 1994.
All three of these former athletes continue to work in the field of athletics. Munz is the University of Memphis basketball beat writer for The Commercial Appeal. Whitehead is the Assistant Sports Information Director at Navy. He has been an SID for over 20 years. Lloyd is the principal at Riser Middle School after having been a coach for some years.
Munz said he started playing baseball when he was 5.
“I have always enjoyed playing baseball,” Munz said. “Over the years, I turned into a halfway-decent player. It’s one thing to have fun playing, but when you realize you are not too bad at it, you want to keep playing it.”
Munz said that while he was growing up in Natchez, he loved watching the Atlanta Braves on TV. Munz said he used to cut out the statistics pages for Major League Baseball and compile them.
When Munz was 10, he was on a Natchez Dixie Youth baseball team that won the 1991 Dixie Youth State championship against Yazoo City. Munz, who was primarily a catcher, played a little at third base as well, went on to be part of two more Dixie Youth State championship-winning teams and later an all-District and all-Metro player at Cathedral.
Munz said his first interaction with sports writing was with Joey Martin, who was the sportswriter at The Natchez Democrat from 1985 to 1998 when Martin was writing about Munz.
Munz said Martin asked Munz’s mother, Patty Davis, about Munz’s future.
“My mom said: ‘Well we were talking about that the other day. We thought maybe sports writing would be something that he would be interested in,’” Munz said.
Munz went to work for The Natchez Democrat after the interaction between the two and started covering high school football games on Friday nights. Munz’s first assignment was at a Natchez High School jamboree in 1995.
After spending more than 12 years as a sports writer at the Hattiesburg American, Munz was hired by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis in 2018.
Whitehead played football for Cathedral and was on the offensive line. Whitehead said he wanted to play football because he enjoyed watching it on television.
“When I was growing up, it was every kid’s dream to be the sports star,” Whitehead said. “Playing sports was what you did in Natchez.”
Whitehead went on to Georgia Tech and pursued a career in sports information after graduating from Cathedral in 1998. Whitehead said his first year at Georgia Tech he was the statistician for the women’s basketball team.
Whitehead said he has been a Sports Information Director for more than 20 years and his job allows him to travel all over the nation.
“I went to the women’s lacrosse Final Four with Navy which was played in Gillett Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts,” Whitehead said. “The biggest thing on my bucket list I have checked off is going to the Army-Navy football game every single year.”
Lloyd played football for the Ferriday High School Trojans from 1990-1993. Lloyd was on the defensive line for the Trojans.
During Lloyd’s senior year, he compiled 75 tackles, five sacks and one pass deflection for the Trojans. Lloyd said playing sports is something he has enjoyed all throughout his life.
“Football taught you a lot about dealing with adversity and also about a brotherhood with teammates and coaches,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd graduated from Ferriday in 1994 and went to Louisiana Tech University where he played football. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1998 and his master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology in 1999.
Lloyd came back to Ferriday High in 2000 and was the defensive coordinator for two years. He was the athletic director and head football coach at Northwest High School in Opelousas, Louisiana, from 2003 to 2005.
From Opelousas, Lloyd moved to West Monroe and became the assistant principal in 2006 at Riser Middle School. Lloyd has been the principal of Riser Middle School for eight years. Lloyd said being involved in sports is a good avenue for kids.
“I just think that sports are very important,” Lloyd said. “There are so many kids that excel in the area of sports, whether it is girls or boys. Kids can use sports as an avenue to open up other doors, whether professionally or collegiately. Sports are a great thing to have in life.”