Knight’s Cobras win with youth

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

WESSON — In five years as Wesson’s head baseball coach, HughKnight’s Cobra teams steadily improved year in and year out. TheCobras finished second twice in the District 6-2A race and tied oneseason before winning the division crown outright this year.

For his leadership and accomplishments as head coach, Knight hasbeen named The DAILY LEADER’S 2008 All-Area Co-Coach of the Year,along with Franklin County head coach Jeremy Loy.

The Cobras finished the season 17-8 before being eliminated byRichton in the South State finals.

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It is not the first time Knight has been an Area Coach of theYear. In 1994 while coaching the Copiah Academy girls to theirOverall title, he was named All-Area Girls Basketball Coach.

“I’m awfully thankful,” said Knight. “I’m very appreciative.It’s an honor. Other coaches did great jobs. Our area has reallygood baseball.”

Knight knew he had a lot of work to do with only one senior onthe team. That one senior was pitcher Jonathan Grace, anexceptional athlete and the 2008 All-Area Most Valuable Player.Knight’s young lineup generally was made up of one senior, twosophomores and three freshmen.

“Grace helped us tremendously on the field,” praised Knight. “Iput a lot of responsibility on him.”

Knight was pleased with what his young Cobra team accomplishedthis year. “I am awfully proud of my kids. Some folks didn’t giveus a chance with five starters gone. The kids came together. Youhave to do a lot of little things well. When we played gooddefense, we had a good chance to win.

“You want them to become the best baseball players they can be,”Knight added. “There is a lot of stress. I want them to learn tocompete and learn to better themselves. If they work hard, theywill be rewarded.”

Knight wants his players to become good citizens besides beinggood players.

“I try to teach character,” explained Knight. “I want them tohave a positive character. We’ve made the playoffs the last fourout of five years. I hope that when they graduate, they are goodquality men. They understand what it takes to win.”

Knight also serves as an assistant football coach and isresponsible for the offensive and defensive backfields.

Knight was born in Hazlehurst in Hardy Wilson Hospital to thelate Bill and Margaret Knight. He grew up in Crystal Springs andattended the high school. He played football, basketball andbaseball for the Tigers. He played all 4 years at third base.

Knight then went to Ole Miss and played for Coach Jake Gibbs. Heand Gibbs arrived at Ole Miss in 1971. Knight was on the travelingsquad and got to go to the College World Series that year. It wasthe last time the Rebels went during his four years there. Heplayed third base during his college years.

He got his degree in Physical Education. “I always wanted to bea coach.”

Knight and his wife Deborah met as freshmen at Ole Miss andmarried before they graduated. They have been married 33 years.They have one daughter, Miriam, who lives in Oxford.

His first coaching experience was at West Panola Academy whereKnight stayed for four years.

After that, he got the opportunity to return to Copiah Countyand joined the Copiah Academy coaching staff. He stayed there forthe next 18 years.

Knight said he coached everything at Copiah: football, baseball,boys and girls basketball and served as athletic director. In 1994,he was selected as the DAILY LEADER’S Area Girls Basketball Coachof the Year.

“I did a variety of things,” said Knight.

Five years ago, Knight got a call from then-Wesson principalBilly O. Britt with the chance to take over as head baseball coachat Wesson.

And over the last 5 years, Knight has been runner-up twice andtied once before winning the district title this year.

“I thoroughly enjoy being at Wesson,” stated Knight. “Wesson isa small community. This has been one of the most enjoyable times. Ihope to finish out my career at Wesson. People here have been verysupportive.

“We’ll be very competitive next year,” added Knight. “I amreally looking forward to it.”