MAC convention attracts crowd

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

It’s all-star week for the Mississippi Association of Coachesand that means the annual MAC convention in Jackson is goingstrong. If you know a coach, either public or private high school,most of them are in the Capitol City this week, attending a varietyof functions.

The MAC Hall of Fame banquet set the tone last Friday night. Aseries of sports clinics are being held this week. Brookhaven headfootball coach Tucker Peavey, fresh from winning the 2004 Class 4Astate championship, is on the list of speakers.

Name a sport and there’s a clinic this week, featuring eitherveteran high school or college coaches. Then you have the games.The first all-star volleyball game took place Wednesday at MadisonCentral.

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High school volleyball is still struggling for survival inMississippi. However, college scholarships are available if theyoung lady is good enough. McComb is the only area school with avolleyball program.

That’s too bad. Volleyball is played during the winter monthswhen basketball is going strong. A lot of girls aren’t tall enoughor quick enough to play basketball. However, they could becomeexceptional volleyball players with a lot of practice andcoaching.

Ask area schools why they don’t have volleyball and the patentedanswer is, “Not enough coaches to coach it.”

It’s time to get off the soap box and return to business. OnThursday, the MAC’s annual North-South all-star basketball gameswill be played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi Collegecampus in Clinton. Last year was the first time for the MAC tochange the format and go with underclassmen or rising seniors.

With future NBA signee Monta Ellis of Lanier leading the parade,the all-star games drew a large crowd. Ellis is now in the NBA’ssummer league with Golden State so the game lacks a marqueeplayer.

However, there are some good ones in the games but no big names.One player we expected to see in the all-star girls game was AlishaMason of Enterprise. Her coach, Jill Nations, nominated Mason butthe request fell on deaf ears.

Mason, a DAILY LEADER All-Lincoln County selection as a junior,is expected to be among the top seniors in the area this winter.Looking at the South girls and boys rosters, there’s only oneplayer from southwest Mississippi and that’s 6-foot-3 guard RodneyGray of Natchez.

Exceptional players are often overlooked in the all-starscramble. It helps to have an all-star coach from this area.Obviously, South girls coaches Burney King of St. Andrew’s andCrandal Porter of Newton aren’t familiar with Mason’s basketballskills.

Coaching the South boys are Fred Harris of Jim Hill and RonaldNorman of Bay Springs. Neither coach has much contact with teamsfrom this area.

On Friday, the MAC’s all-star tennis matches will be held atParham Bridges Tennis Center in Jackson. On Friday night, the 56thAnnual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Game will be held atMadison Central.

Representing this area are linebacker Darius Perkins ofBrookhaven, defensive back Jasper O’Quinn of Franklin County, widereceiver Damoyn Carroll of Hazlehurst and linebacker John Thompsonof McComb. In case you missed it, defensive back J.P. Lewis ofLawrence County elected to skip the game. Lewis is enrolled insummer school at Southern Miss and is anticipating some action as afreshman with the Golden Eagles.

Many coaches have wished aloud for a date change of theNorth-South football game. We believe it would be much more popularif it were played in late December, the week before Christmas.

Instead, it is played seven months after the state championshipfootball games have been held. Fan interest sags severely. Manyplayers are more concerned about injuries which would keep themfrom participating in preseason drills with their respectivecollege teams next month.

Football coaches are asked to check their mailboxes at schoolfor The DAILY LEADER’s gridiron questionnaires. Please complete theforms and return them to this office as soon as possible.

The information will be compiled and used in the DL’s annualGridiron Preview. It will be published in late August.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or