Twymond Howard (left) of Southwest Mississippi Community College received most valuable player honors after helping lead the South All-Stars to a 121-117 victory over the North in the annual MACJC All-Star Basketball Games held Friday, April 11, 2014, at East Central Community College in Decatur. Howard and Chris Bilbo of MS Gulf Coast led South scorers with 20 points each. He is shown receiving the award from Crandal Porter, women’s head basketball coach at ECCC, which hosts the annual competition in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building. Event sponsors include the Pearl River Resort, JUCO Weekly, Judge Little and ECCC.
Ashanti Spencer (left) of Mississippi Delta Community College received most valuable player honors after leading the North All-Stars to an 81-69 victory over the North in the annual MACJC All-Star Basketball Games held Friday, April 11, 2014, at East Central Community College in Decatur. Spencer led the North with 13 points. She is shown with Robert Thompson, men’s head basketball coach at ECCC, which hosts the annual competition in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building. Event sponsors include the Pearl River Resort, JUCO Weekly, Judge Little and ECCC.
Representing East Central Community College in the annual MACJC All-Star Basketball Games were (second from left) Lady Warrior Tannihja Hughes of Forest and Warriors Terrance Mujahid, a product of Westwood High School in Memphis, and Jacques Johnson of Jackson Provine. The standout athletes are shown with Lady Warrior head coach Crandal Porter (left) and Warrior head coach Robert Thompson. Hughes scored five points for the South women who fell 81-69 to the North All-Stars. Mujahid tallied 10 points and Johnson chipped in four points in leading the South men to a 121-117 victory over the North squad. ECCC serves as host of the annual competition, which was held Friday, April 11, 2014, in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building on the Decatur campus. Event sponsors include the Pearl River Resort, JUCO Weekly, Judge Little and ECCC.
East Central Community College will host a free Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run competition on the Decatur campus.
Activities begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27, 2014, at the Clark/Gay Baseball Complex.
Pitch, Hit and Run is the official skills competition of Major League Baseball. Presented by Scotts Competition, the grassroots program is designed to provide youngsters with an opportunity to compete free of charge in a competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball/softball skills.
Boys and girls are divided into four age divisions: 7-8; 11-12; and 13-14, and have the chance to advance through four levels of competition, including Team Championships at Major League ballparks and the National Finals at the 2014 MLB All-Star Games.
The individual Pitching, Hitting and Running Champions, along with the All-Around Champion in each age and gender group at the Local Competition will be awarded and advance to the Sectional Level of Competition.
All participants must bring a copy of their birth certificate and have their parent or guardian fill out a registration/waiver form prior to the start of competition.
For questions concerning competition, please contact Coach Neal Holliman, ECCC head baseball coach, at 601-635-6374 or e-mail email@example.com.
“Basketball was Evelyn’s game and no other player in the state of Mississippi played it better.”
These are the words of former East Central Community College women’s head basketball coach Lucille Wood in describing the standout athlete when she was inducted into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bender’s accomplishments on the hardwood are now recognized on a statewide level as the former standout at ECCC, Jackson State University and the New York Stars professional basketball team is among inductees for the 2014 Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame.
Bender will be enshrined with other representatives of the state’s community and junior colleges at the eighth annual ceremony scheduled Tuesday, April 29, at the Muse Center on the Rankin County campus of Hinds Community College in Pearl.
The Newton resident said she is “excited” and “honored” to receive the prestigious award.
“I never dreamed I would even be considered good enough to be in the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame,” she said.
But Bender was more than “good enough” for membership in the prestigious group.
She was a standout member of the East Central Community College women’s basketball teams during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Bender helped lead the Warriorettes (as referred to then) to the 1976 state championship. The talented squad was led by Coach Wood, who was inducted into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bender set numerous records during her career, many of which still stand today: most field goals (20) in a game; and best two-year scoring average (25.7 points in 42 games) for a total of 1,081 points.
She twice received first team All-State honors and both times was a unanimous first choice of the state’s junior college coaches.
Bender would have been a candidate for NJCAA All-American or All-Region recognition had EC been a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
She also excelled in tennis and was a two-year member of the varsity squad.
Regarding her career at East Central, Bender said she “enjoyed (just) playing (basketball) the most” but that “having a chance to go places I had never been let alone heard of was just as enjoyable.”
She does recall at least one “unusual” or “humorous” incident during her days at East Central.
“We had an outstanding speech instructor (Bruce Peterson) who would always write a poem to be read to the team before we played a game. His poems were so inspiring!” she said.
Bender said it was the “people” who made her time at East Central most enjoyable.
“Everyone knew everyone,” she said. “We helped each other and cared for each other….we took care of each other. We were a family!”
Bender also reflected on how she was recruited to attend East Central.
“I had never given any thought to attending EC until Mr. James “Creeper” Nelson told me that Denver Brackeen and Coach (Lucille) Wood wanted to talk to me. We talked….and that was that. I was coming to EC!”
She said playing for Coach Wood was a “super experience.”
“She never tried to alter us, just managed to muse the crew into a championship squad,” she said. “That was awesome in that we were a varied group of individuals.”
Bender continued her basketball career at Jackson State University, regarded at the time as the top team in the state. She helped lead the Lady Tigers to the National Black College Tournament Championship and Regional titles. She capped her college career by earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1979.
Bender continued her career on the professional level in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which has since disbanded. She was drafted by a team in Washington, D.C., and later played for the New York Stars in Madison Square Garden. Her success was highlighted in numerous major newspapers and sports magazines.
After the team folded due to financial reasons, Bender returned to Jackson State and received a master’s degree in physical education in 1982. While at JSU, she served as a trainer for the basketball and football squads.
She later returned to her high school alma mater, Newton Public Schools, where she coached basketball and track for 10 years and assisted with softball for five years.
Bender currently works for the Newton Parks and Recreation Department. She is also in her 27th year as a high school basketball official and has served the past five years officiating softball and baseball games.
She spends most of her day helping young people grow physically and mentally.
“Seems like teaching is a part of me, and to see one of them excel is a good feeling,” she said.
She has a daughter, Kotreece Bender, who is also a former ECCC basketball standout. Kotreece, a former women’s basketball assistant at ECCC, is completing her first year as girls’ head basketball coach at Lake High School.
In reflecting on her basketball career at all four levels, Bender said highlights include: (high school) being nominated to play in the high school All-Star game; (college) helping lead EC to a state championship and later her induction into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame; (senior college) playing basketball at a level she never imagined and to be helpful in a program of such magnitude; and (professional) and realizing the dream of playing professional basketball, which she described was “the ultimate goal. I had always hoped I would have the opportunity to go pro…and when I did, I felt I had made it…all the hard work had paid off!”
Bender can now add another highlight of her stellar career – induction into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame.
These standout high school soccer players plan to continue their careers at East Central Community College in Decatur. Joining the Warrior squad in 2014-15 are (seated from left) Jacob Johnson, a 5-7, 140-pound forward and product of Destrehan (La.) High School; Cesar Diaz, a 5-7, 130-pound forward from Newton County High School; Jackson Oliver, a 5-11, 163-pound midfielder/forward and Tyler Aaron, a 6-1, 150-pound forward, both products of Clinton High School; and (standing from left) John Mark Howell, a 6’, 225-pound keeper from Amory High School; Durham Norman, a 6’, 147-pound defender from Florence High School; Connor Brenham, a 6’1, 150-pound midfielder from Pearl High School; and Kellen Clark, a 6’, 150-pound defender from Newton County High School. Johnson is a first-team All-District selection. Diaz’s honors include All-District and Golden Boot Award. He helped lead Newton County to the 2013-14 District title and State 4A semifinals. The 2012-13 team also reached the State 4A semi-finals. Oliver was team captain of the 2013-14 squad, which won the District championship. He also helped lead Clinton to the State 6A championships in 2008-09 and 2011-12. Aaron helped lead Clinton to the 2014 District championship. Howell is a recipient of Amory’s Scholar Athlete award. Norman served as captain of the 2014 Florence squad, which finished State Class 4A runners-up. Brennan helped lead Pearl to the 2013-14 State 5A Championship. He was also a member of several recreation and travel soccer championship squads. Clark’s honors include 2011-12 All-District Keeper, 2012-13 Defender of the Year and 2012-13 first team All-District. He helped lead Newton County to the 2012-13 and 2013-14 State 4A semifinals. Also joining the Warrior soccer squad in 2014-15 but not pictured is Jamar Simms, a 5-9, 150-pound defender from Pascagoula High School. EC’s Warrior soccer program is led by head coach Kenneth Thompson.
These East Central Community College music students will present their sophomore recital at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the Vickers Fine Arts Building Auditorium on the Decatur campus. The public is invited to attend and there is no charge for admission. From left are Conor Bell (piano) of Carthage who will present “Waltz in C# Minor” by Chopin and “Prelude in G Major” by Bach; Clint Walker (tenor) of Newton performing “Love Went A Riding” by Frank Bridge and “Per La Gloria d’adoravi” by Bononcini; Samuel Lovorn (baritone) of Philadelphia who will present “Vergil Tutt’ Amor” by Francesco Durante, “La Bloma” by Vradier and “Bubble Boogie” by Jack Fina; and Chandler Smith of Philadelphia (percussion/tenor) who will perform “Tambourin Chinois” by Kreisler/Green, “South Kolora” by Alex Stopa, “Purdicesti, O bocci Bella” by Lotti, “Go Lovely Rose” by Quilter and “Horses On A Red Dirt Trail” by C. Bell.
Services are scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Clarke-Venable Baptist Church in Decatur for former East Central Community College President Dr. Eddie M. Smith. Visitation will be held from 9 to 11 a.m., also at Clarke-Venable.
Dr. Smith died Monday, April 14, 2014, at his home in Decatur, following a lengthy illness.
Dr. Billy Stewart, president of East Central, said, “Our college and community lost a great man earlier today. Dr. Smith served as president of this institution with honor, integrity, and a commitment to excellence for 15 years. He left an indelible mark on East Central Community College and on the lives of those who were fortunate to know him. We are a stronger and better institution today because of Dr. Smith’s leadership. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Charlotte, and daughters, Kelli and Wendy.”
Dr. Smith, 71, led the institution from 1985 to 2000 and served his alma mater as its sixth president.
Ovid Vickers, retired ECCC faculty member, said of his former student and fellow educator:
“Dr. Smith was a devoted family man and a devout Christian, whose contributions to the Mississippi Community College System are too numerous to list. He was a very dedicated educator and had devoted his life to the process of education. He served well as the President of ECCC.”
During Dr. Smith’s tenure, the college experienced unprecedented growth in numerous areas, especially in enrollment, program offerings, campus facilities and workforce education and training. He also led the college through two re-accreditations by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
An increased emphasis was placed on recruiting students of all ages. As a result of a closely followed recruitment and retention plan, enrollment increased each of his 15 years at the helm.
Serving students remained Dr. Smith’s top priority throughout his administration. The Student Union Building bears his named in recognition of his dedication to providing the best education and college experience for students of all ages.
East Central began offering programs in the health-related field during his administration. Those programs include surgical technology, licensed practical nursing, and associate degree nursing.
The college also increased its evening class schedule by offering classes at locations throughout the five-county district to assist students with their educational needs.
Various renovations of college buildings and additions to the Decatur campus were also made during this period. East Central purchased the former Newton County High School property (earlier Decatur High School) and made extensive renovations. The area is now referred to as South Campus and includes classrooms and laboratory space, faculty offices, and a library for the Town of Decatur.
New buildings constructed under Dr. Smith’s leadership included the Associate Degree Nursing/Child Care Technology Building (now named for former ECCC President Dr. Phil A. Sutphin), the Workforce Development Center (previously referred to as the Skill/Tech One-Stop Career Center), Erma Lee Barber Hall (named in honor of the former dean of women) and the Student Union (named in honor of Dr. Smith).
Efforts in workforce education and training continue at the college, as various services are provided individuals, businesses and industries in skills training, career counseling, job placement and customized personal development.
The college also increased its efforts in the area of alumni relations and fundraising with the creation of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. Among projects sponsored through the Foundation include the Welcome Home Archway and electronic marquee. The archway is a re-creation of a similar structure that greeted campus visitors from 1950 to the early 1970s. The Warrior, the college’s alumni publications, began publication early in the early years of the Smith administration and is still published today.
In the area of athletics, new sports added during Dr. Smith’s presidency included women’s softball and men’s soccer. Rodeo competition also began as an intercollegiate but has since been discontinued.
A graduate of Noxapater High School, Dr. Smith received an associate’s degree from ECCC and earned bachelor and master degrees from Mississippi State University, and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi.
He was married to the former Charlotte Flowers of Natchez. He had two daughters, Dr. Kelli Smith, a family medical physician with Magee Medical and Surgical Group in Magee; and Wendy Smith, who serves as director of choral and music instruction at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Milling Funeral Home in Union is in charge of arrangements, which are incomplete at this time.
Area ladies interested in learning more about the game of football should attend
East Central Community College’s “Football 101: Skills Clinic for Women” Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Activities will take place at Brackeen-Wood Gymnasium and Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus. Registration is $25 for adults and $10 for East Central students and those under 18.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Brackeen-Wood Gymnasiun. Activities kick off at 9 a.m. and include “Rules of the Game,” “Learning the Game” (Offense/Defense), Warm-Ups, Position Work and a Punt, Pass & Kick Contest.
Lunch will be served from 1 to 1:30 p.m. followed by afternoon events, which include Scrimmage Instruction, Offense vs. Defense Scrimmage and the Kick and Throw Contest Championship.
Walk-Up registration may be available, however, space is limited and advance
registration is encouraged. Payment must be made by cash or check only.
For more information or to register, contact camp director Charles Jones at 601-635-6371 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ken Karcher serves as head coach.
Sophomore members of the East Central Community College fast-pitch softball team were recognized Friday, April 11, 2014, prior to the home finale against Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Decatur. Honorees were joined by family members for the special ceremony. Sophomore players and their respective high schools include (from left) Hayley Stephens (24), Union; Ty Buckley (23), Neshoba Central; Morgan Porter (19), Enterprise; Lindsey Beard (17), Clarkdale; Kaylin Hopkins (8), Louisville; Kendra Wilson (5), South Lamar (Millport, AL); and Amber McBroom (3), Brandon. The Lady Warriors fell 14-3 in the opener but rallied for an11-4 win in the nightcap to improve to 30-12 overall and 15-9 in the MACJC South Division. Kristin Chaney serves as head coach.