Serving as drum majors for the East Central Community College Wall O’ Sound Marching Band in 2013-14 are (from left) Sarah Hall, a product of Philadelphia High School; Nathan Williams of Union; and Emily Jacome-Cluff and Katie Sanford, both products of Newton County High School. Hunter Corhern serves as ECCC Director of Bands and Ed Girling is assistant director.
Cara Bell (left) of Leake County Career Technical Center and Melanie Brashier (right) of Newton County Career Technical Center are shown experimenting with drawing a floor plan with assistance from Drafting and Design student Elizabeth Hunt (standing) of Noxapater during East Central Community College’s annual Nontraditional Conference for Female Students held September 18, 2013 on the Decatur campus. During the day’s activities, female students participate in hands-on activities and tour programs which typically enroll male students. Additional programs featured included automotive technology, collision repair, computer networking, culinary arts, EMT, residential carpentry, surgical technology, hotel/restaurant management and welding. A Nontraditional Conference for Male students is also held each year. For more information, contact Career-Technical Counselor Amanda Walton at 601-635-6214. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brianna Cistrunk of Winston-Louisville Career Technical Center tries on a neck brace with assistance from Denita Thomas, Dean of Healthcare Education, while learning about the college’s EMT program during East Central Community College’s annual Nontraditional Conference for Female Students held September 18, 2013 on the Decatur campus. During the day’s activities, male students participate in hands-on activities and tour programs which typically enroll female students. Additional programs featured included automotive technology, collision repair, computer networking, culinary arts, drafting and design, residential carpentry, surgical technology, hotel/restaurant management and welding. A Nontraditional Conference for Male students is also held each year. For more information, contact Career-Technical Counselor Amanda Walton at 601-635-6214. The e-mail address is email@example.com.
Residential Carpentry student Tiesha Roberts (left) of Newton assists Winston-Louisville Career Technical Center student Yemia Griffin-Gill (right) with securing a corner piece during East Central Community College’s annual Nontraditional Conference for Female Students held September 18, 2013 on the Decatur campus. During the day’s activities, female students participate in hands-on activities and tour programs which typically enroll male students. Additional programs featured included automotive technology, collision repair, computer networking, culinary arts, EMT technology, drafting and design, surgical technology, hotel/restaurant management and welding. A Nontraditional Conference for Male students is also held each year. For more information, contact Career-Technical Counselor Amanda Walton at 601-635-6214. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete Lucovich spent 32 years as a successful high school coach and teacher at Carthage High School following a standout football and baseball career at then East Central Junior College from 1971-73.
In recognition of his success in athletics, Lucovich will be inducted into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame during the 2013 Homecoming activities scheduled Saturday, October 12 on the Decatur campus.
Lucovich and former Major League Baseball player and Louisville native Marcus Thames, now of Tampa, Fla., will be enshrined at the Alumni Association Awards Luncheon beginning at 11 a.m. in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria.
Lucovich, who came to EC following a stellar athletic career at Hickory High School, said he is “deeply honored and thankful” for the prestigious award.
When he retired in 2010, Lucovich had logged 28 years as athletic director and head football coach at Carthage High School, where his teams compiled an overall record of 162 wins and 125 losses.
He led 10 Tiger teams to the state playoffs, and three squads (1991, 1992 and 2007) finished Class AAA South State runners-up.
He also had four squads (1983, 1991, 1992 and 2007) to achieve number-one rankings in the state during season competition.
Lucovich also achieved success as a junior varsity head football coach, compiling and overall 49-14 mark.
He also served as golf and tennis coach at CHS.
He led the golf team for 12 years (1998-2010) and seven squads qualified for state tournament competition.
He coached tennis for eight years (2002-2010), compiling four district tournament titles and a state tournament appearance.
Lucovich received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, and credits the ECCC staff and coaches “for preparing me for a successful teaching and coaching career.”
Honors include Choctaw Conference Football Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1983; District VI Football Coach of the Year in 1991 and District V Football Coach of the Year in 2007; District IV Tennis Coach of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008; District V Golf Coach of the Year in 2006; and Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Athletic Director of the Year in 2004-05.
In addition, he served as president of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) for District V, which includes 36 schools in 10 counties.
Lucovich was a member of the MAC from 1977-2013 and served on the organization’s Board of Directors from 1998-2006.
He was also a feature coach in the Gridiron Gold book published in 2007 by the Mississippi Sports Council and Mike Frascogna.
He served on the Leake County Country Club Board of Directors from 1997-2003.
He is a lifetime member of the ECCC Alumni Association and is a member of the Warrior Club, a fundraising organization for the College’s athletic teams.
Although retired from full-time employment, Lucovich continues to teach driver’s education on a part-time basis at Leake County High School.
Lucovich began his athletic career at Hickory High School, where the 1971 graduate was a three-year All-Choctaw Conference selection in football, basketball and baseball.
He was awarded a football scholarship by Warrior head coach Ken Pouncey and assistant Willie “Tenny” Coats, and recalls beginning his career a little earlier than expected.
“We opened the 1971 football season with Jones County in Laurel and I was a freshman playing on special teams and was a back-up wide receiver,” Lucovich said. “On the first play of the game, Jimmy Wright of Forest, our starting wide receiver, separated his shoulder. I had to play the rest of the game on offense. I caught two passes from quarterback Freddie Bagley (also of Forest) to keep scoring drives alive. We won the game 14-3….but I had not expected to begin the season playing as a freshman!”
Another highlight of his freshman season involves the College’s longtime rival- East Mississippi Community College, or more commonly referred to as simply “Scooba.”
“We were taught very early of the rivalry between East Central and East Mississippi,” said Lucovich. “My freshman year we played them in Decatur and all week the sophomores on the team told us about the possibility of a fight breaking out during the game.”
He continued, “They instructed us in what to do making sure we kept our helmets on during a fight. During the game our mascot – a Warrior riding a horse – rode over to the Scooba side to celebrate an East Central touchdown. The Scooba students took exception to this, an altercation followed, and before you knew it a huge fight had broken out between the fans. The game was stopped momentarily until order was restored in the stands! We won the game 28-25 without a fight occurring among the players on the field. The fight that night belonged to the fans in the stands!”
The 1971 squad finished 7-3 and recorded other impressive victories over Itawamba (30-0), Northwest (7-0), Holmes (34-14), Northeast (41-7) and Southwest (35-13). Narrow losses were to Gulf Coast (28-27), Pearl River (13-7) and Delta (14-9).
The Warriors were MACJC North Division co-champions but lost a coin flip to determine which team would represent the division in the state championship game.
During his sophomore season, Lucovich was a two-way starter, as he played flanker on offense and was a defensive cornerback. He was also a punt returner.
EC finished 4-6 in 1972 with wins over Northwest (29-8), Delta (27-0), Northeast (19-3) and Itawamba (13-6).
Lucovich was an honorable mention Mississippi Junior College All-Conference selection following his sophomore campaign.
He also excelled in baseball and led the Warriors with a .365 batting average in his sophomore campaign, during which he was a shortstop and pitcher.
In recalling his EC days, Lucovich said he mostly enjoyed “the camaraderie with fellow athletes/classmates, coaches and faculty.”
Regarding his least favorite experience, Lucovich replied: “No doubt it was the three-a-day football practices in the Mississippi August heat when drinking lots of water was not encouraged for athletes!”
After graduating from EC in 1973, Lucovich continued his education and athletic career at Mississippi State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1975 and a master’s degree in 1976.
While at MSU, he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha social fraternity and participated in intramural football and received the Douglas Lee Dunn Outstanding Athlete Award for 1974-75.
It was at MSU where he met his future wife, the former Kay McCain of Eupora.
They have a son, Lance Lucovich, 31; and a daughter, Anna Lucovich, 26.
Marcus Thames is the only former East Central Community College baseball player to experience a 15-year career in Major League Baseball.
Not only did he “experience” a long career, his first at-bat resulted in a home run and he continued the successful journey in a World Series.
In recognition of his success on the diamond, Thames will be inducted into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame during the 2013 Homecoming activities scheduled Saturday, October 12 on the Decatur campus.
Thames and former Carthage High School head football coach Pete Lucovich will be enshrined at the Alumni Association Awards Luncheon beginning at 11 a.m. in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria.
Thames, who is continuing his career in professional baseball as a coach in the New York Yankees’ minor league system in Tampa, Fla., said he was “speechless” when informed of his selection for the prestigious award.
“When Dr. (Billy) Stewart called me I was so shocked I could not speak,” said Thames. “I never thought for a second that when I walked on East Central’s campus in January of 1996 that this honor was in the making. I am very appreciative.”
The Louisville native began his major league career by belting a home run off Cy Young winner Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium on June 10, 2002.
Thames hit the dinger off the first pitch he saw from Johnson and became the 80th player in history to accomplish such a feat.
As his coaches and teammates were laughing in amazement, Thames stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call to a capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium!
(Ironically, his last at-bat at the old Yankee Stadium was a home run and his first hit at new Yankee Stadium during his second stint with the Yankees in 2010 was a homer!)
Thames spent just one season with the Yankees who traded the outfielder to the Texas Rangers on June 6, 2003.
He began his career with the Rangers as he did with the Yankees, by belting a home run in his first at-bat!
The following two seasons Thames split times between the Detroit Tigers and their AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens.
In 2006, Thames made his opening day roster for new Detroit manager Jim Leyland.
He was regarded as a “key component” to the Tigers’ vast improvement in 2006, which resulted in the American League pennant and a trip to the World Series, won in five games by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Thames set career highs in every offensive category during the championship season. He batted .256 with 26 home runs and 60 RBIs in only 348 at bats. He was infamously nicknamed “Country Strong” by Tigers broadcaster Rod Allen.
Other highlights of Thames’ career in Detroit came during the 2007 season. On July 1, he hit a solo home run on the bottom of the eighth inning to score the only run in a victory over the Minnesota Twins. On July 6, he hit the third grand slam of his career at Comerica Park against the Boston Red Sox. Two days later, Thames belted one of the longest home runs in the history of Comerica Park, when his dinger to centerfield bounced off the camera area.
The following season, Thames hit eight home runs in seven consecutive games from June 11 to June 17, becoming the first Tiger in team history to achieve that feat. During the streak, eight consecutive hits were home runs!
On August 9, 2009, Thames hit his 100th career homer. He was released from the Tigers at the end of the season.
Thames signed a minor league deal to return to the Yankees on February 8, 2010. His contract was purchased prior to the regular season, adding him to the Yankees’ opening day roster.
Although he usually only started against left-handed pitchers. Thames came through with several big hits in 2010.
On May 17, he hit a walk-off home run against Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. On July 4, he returned from a DL stint to hit a game-ending single against the Toronto Blue Jays. On August 11, he helped the Yankees rally from a five-run deficit by hitting a home run in the eighth inning and a go-ahead single in the ninth inning to beat the Rangers. In a six-game stretch from August 24 to August 30, Thames had six home runs and 11 RBIs in 21 at bats!
Normally an outfielder, Thames made his first career appearance at third base on July 29, 2010 but later returned to the outfield.
During the 2010 American League Championship Series, Thames served as designated hitter. The Yankees lost the series to the Texas Rangers in six games.
Thames elected free agency from the New York Yankees on November 7, 2010.
He signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2011 season. He made 70 appearances for the Dodgers prior to his release in July.
Thames completed his career with a .245 batting average, 115 home runs and 301 RBIs. He averaged a home run every 15.4 at bats. He reached 100 home runs in 1,549 at bats, which is fewer than any other player with 100 home runs.
Thames was drafted twice by the New York Yankees before beginning his major league career.
He was first tapped in the 30th round of the amateur draft following his freshman season at East Central in 1996, when he batted .382 with three home runs, seven triples, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs.
Thames preferred instead to return to Jamie Clark’s Diamond Warrior squad and sharpen his skills.
The 1997 Diamond Warriors were MACJC State Tournament runners-up and advanced to the Region 23 Tournament en route to a record 40 wins and just 18 losses.
Thames led the offense with a then school record .420 batting average and had 13 home runs while collecting 70 RBIs.
He was named to NJCAA All-American, All-Region 23 and MACJC All-State squads following his record-setting season.
Thames credits the late Jamie Clark for his success in Major League Baseball.
“Thanks to Coach Clark, I excelled on and off the field,” Thames said, “The work ethic he instilled in me stayed with me throughout my professional career.”
Thames also has fond memories of his two years at East Central.
“From the moment I arrived on campus, I felt comfortable,” he said. “East Central welcomes its students with open arms. From my coaches, to professors, to teammates and friends….it was like a family.”
Thames made frequent visits to the EC campus during his professional career and often spoke to Lucille Wood’s physical education classes prior to her retirement in 2011.
During one of Thames’ visits to EC, his number “24” was retired during a ceremony held at the 2007 First Pitch Dinner prior the Diamond Warriors’ season opener.
Thames and the late Jamie Clark are the only ECCC baseball team members to have their jersey numbers retired. Both jerseys are on display in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building and replicas are displayed on the right field fence at the Clark/Gay Baseball Complex. Clark’s number was “41.”
Thames has donated various autographed items to the ECCC Memorabilia Room in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria.
He continues to provide support for the Diamond Warrior program.
Thames and his wife Danna have four children, Deja, Jade, Marcus, Jr., and Ella.
The Meridian StarSat Sep 21, 2013, 06:00 AM CDTNine choral students from East Central Community College performed at the Mississippi Community College Honors Choir at the Southern Invitational Choral Conference in Hattiesburg on Sept. 23-24. The students were under the direction of Dr. Paul Hondorp of Western Kentucky University and joined in the 300-member choir when it presented a public concert on Sept. 23 at Main Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. The ECCC students participating and their respective high schools included: (front row, from left) Sarah LaBue, Newton County; Anna Girling, Leake Central; and Claire Griffin, Newton County; (second row, from left) Clint Walker, Newton County Academy; DeeJay Rolison, Newton County; and Georgia Doner, West Lauderdale; and (back row, from left) Ryan Godwin, Newton County; Sam Lovern, Neshoba Central; and Chandler Smith, Newton County. The students are members of the ECCC Concert Choir under the direction of Vicki Blaylock.
East Central Community College’s soccer teams each posted 2-1 decisions over Southwest Mississippi Community College squads Friday, Sept. 27 on the Decatur campus.
Ashlan Culberson scored both goals for the Lady Warriors, who improved to 4-6 overall under first-year head coach Gray Massey.
Culberson, a freshman midfielder from Brandon, gave EC an early 1-0 lead and later provided the game-winning goal in overtime.
Nicole Daigle scored for the Lady Bears and sent the contest into the extra period.
After trailing 1-0 following an early score by Southwest’s Chris Gomez, the Warriors responded with goals from Clint McGraw followed by the game-winner from Will Thompson. Russ Thompson was credited with a scoring assist on McGraw’s goal, and McGraw and Zack Killion received scoring assists on the Thompson score.
McGraw is a sophomore forward from Tupelo Christian and Will Thompson is a sophomore forward/midfielder and product of Newton County High School.
Russ Thompson is a sophomore midfielder/forward from Newton County, and Killion, a sophomore defender, hails from South Oldham High School in Crestwood, Ky.
The Warriors are led by head coach Kenneth Thompson.
EC soccer squads travel to Meridian Community College Tuesday, Oct. 1. Game times are 2 and 4 p.m. on the MCC campus.
Finalizing plans for East Central Community College’s 2013 Homecoming celebration are the above Alumni Association Officers and Board of Directors, who include (seated from left) Florence Harkins Henley of Starkville, out-of-district representative; Ann Hunter Burkes of Decatur, Newton County representative; Alumni Association officers Jeanette Beevers Thrash of Decatur, secretary, Lois Blount Cooper of Madison, president, and Dow Thomas of Louisville, vice president; and Dr. Stacey Hollingsworth, ECCC Executive Director for Foundation and Alumni Relations; and (standing from left) Harvey Trapp of Decatur, Newton County representative; Dr. Billy Stewart, ECCC President; Dayna Morgan of Philadelphia, Neshoba County representative; Jerald Everett of Clinton, out-of-district representative; ECCC staff members Dr. Randall Lee, vice president for student services, Dr. Teresa Houston, vice president for instruction and Amanda Walton, workforce education counselor; and Paul Chamblee of Carthage, Leake County representative. Homecoming is scheduled Saturday, October 12. For more information, contact Dr. Stacey Hollingsworth at 601-635-6327 or email email@example.com. A list of Homecoming activities is available on the college’s Web site, www.eccc.edu.
Sophomore running back Martin Johnson (7) provided East Central Community College with its first score in the Thursday night battle with Hinds Community College held at Renfroe Stadium on the Raymond campus. The Nanih Waiya High School product is shown extending the pigskin over the goal line capping his 27-yard scamper to pay dirt. The Eagles claimed the MACJC South Division matchup by a 48-14 margin.