Brewer earns inaugural Dr. Sam Bounds scholarship

Published 7:01 am Tuesday, June 27, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook golfer and graduate Hunter Brewer earned the Dr. Sam Bounds Scholarship this year. He said it was a surprise to win something so special with his mom Christi Brewer proudly smiling. 

Lisa Bounds presented the inaugural award of the scholarship in honor of her husband Sam Bounds who served the Brookhaven School District as a superintendent. 

Brewer was a select student athlete and was someone who embodied Sam’s qualities. He earned $1,000 by being nominated by his coach, receiving a letter of recommendation from Leslie Davis, an English teacher he had his freshman year, and by writing an essay. 

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“I wrote my essay on integrity. I played in the district tournament in Picayune and some of the players cheated badly. It did not look good on their part,” Brewer said. “I wrote about learning from the experience and how you are the only scorer out there. We had just come back from the district tournament so it was all still fresh in my mind.” 

Brewer will attend Co-Lin Community College and study engineering. He said he will not be playing golf at the school. In March, Brewer chipped in a birdie at the Brookhaven Country Club in a tournament. 

The inaugural scholarship

Lisa said she wanted to create a scholarship to honor him because of his involvement in education and to honor her husband. He died on June 16, 2022. 

Athletes had to be nominated by their coach to apply for the scholarship. Students had to include information about their life lessons learned while playing sports, future college and career plans with a description of leadership ability and qualities, financial need and family hardship or other pertinent information to include for the scholarship committee. They had to have at least a 3.0 GPA to apply. 

“I was impressed by the essays they wrote, several moved me to tears,” Lisa said. “We want to do a scholarship for a student athlete because it was his turning point. We want to help a student who has the same qualities and help them in their quest to get their education. He had been a good player at Jones and got a wonderful education at UNC where he realized his calling was education. He was gregarious, he put his whole bearing into everything he did. He was a stellar leader. He remained an advocate for public education and fought battles in Jackson.” 

A coach

Sam served as a public school coach, teacher and administrator from 1970 to 2017. His first job after graduating from the University of North Carolina was as a football coach at Greensboro-Grimsley High School. Sam returned home to Raleigh, Mississippi in 1976 to help care for his family and serve as the head football coach and athletic director. 

His next stop was going to Monticello and later Clinton as a principal. From 1994 to 2004, Sam served as a superintendent for the Brookhaven School District. He completed his career serving as the executive director of the Mississippi Association of School of Superintendents until he retired in 2017. 

“I’m still good friends with his administrative team and they all say he was always a coach and was always coaching. It was his philosophy, he never gave up coaching,” Lisa said. “He remained close to the guys he coached at Raleigh. 10 of his men showed up to his funeral from the 1976 team. Raleigh had not won anything in 14 years and he brought winning back. In his speeches, he always mentioned there is a Sam Bounds sitting in every classroom.” 

A proud man

Three of his former players became ministers. A good coach changes the lives of their players, Lisa said. Education made a difference in his life because it was a lifeline out of poverty and he knew it and wanted to share it with others. 

He grew up on a farm in Raleigh with his parents working very hard. They had little in material wealth but were rich in love and work ethic. Sam was a big believer in work ethic and had high expectations of people.

His time in Brookhaven saw improvements across the city’s school district. A new transportation office, new baseball field and in-house maintenance team were built. Mamie Martin Elementary saw a new class room and library wing with a new eight classroom kindergarten wing. 

Brookhaven Elementary saw a new six classrooms and library added. Alexander junior high saw new classrooms, an art room, band hall, auditorium renovations and library renovation. 

Brookhaven High School saw a new math building, new field house, renovation of gymnasium, football stadium,  a new parking lot and a $13 million renovation and expansion of the high school. 

“His barometer in decision making was whatever was in the best interest of the children in the district,” Lisa said. “He had on all of his championship rings from Ole Brook. He was probably the most proud of our national merit finalists.”