Community servant honors are well-earned

Published 1:34 pm Monday, February 27, 2023

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For years, the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame has recognized outstanding local athletes and local men and women who have contributed to the success of our community’s athletes.

This year is no different.

Earlier this week, the group held its annual awards dinner and honored a trio of individuals as “community servants”.

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Those recognized include Ray Simpson, longtime sales leader at Rex Team Sports, and Ken and Sue Beesley, the retired longtime coach and athletic director at Cathedral School and his wife.

Simpson is known throughout the community for more than 45 years of work to make sure athletes of all levels – from youth sports to high school – have the uniform and equipment they need to succeed. His efforts have benefitted thousands of young players throughout the years, and recognizing him as a Contributor to Amateur Football is a fitting honor.

Beesley and his wife were honored with the Distinguished American Award, recognizing his 36-year career as a football coach and educator at Cathedral School and her work for 30 years in the Natchez-Adams School District.

Together, they formed a quiet, consistent and trusted team that coached and developed hundreds of players over the years. They have led with integrity and personal example, committing their lives to the values they hoped to instill in younger generations. And their legacy lives on in their son, Craig, who was coach and athletic director at Cathedral, and their grandson Andrew, who now takes up the baseball head coach mantle at the same school.

Athletics and sports can play an integral part in our children’s lives, from t-ball to state championships to professional careers, for the gifted and lucky. And participating in sports programs can be an opportunity for positive growth and development for young people of all ages.

Simpson and the Beesleys represent the ideals of volunteers and coaches who see the value that athletics can bring to a young person’s life and development and whose time and efforts yielded good fruit.

The honors are well-deserved.