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Alcorn mourns the passing of legendary baseball coach, Willie ‘Rat’ McGowan



From Alcorn State University:

One of Alcorn State University’s most iconic athletic figures has passed away.

Willie “Rat” McGowan, who coached the Braves baseball team for 40 years, passed away Wednesday, Nov. 6.

McGowan, a McComb, Miss., native and 1961 alumnus, was a fixture for over 40 years at Alcorn. As the head baseball coach, he finished his career with 711 wins and four Southwestern Athletic Conference eastern division titles. McGowan was named the SWAC baseball Coach of the Year four times (1978, 1979, 1981 and 1988). He also served as a defensive line and defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for the Braves football team.

As a student-athlete at Alcorn, McGowan lettered four times in both football and baseball. He was named the football team captain and Most Valuable Player in 1959. He won the university’s inaugural Jack Spinks Award.

Known affectionately as “The Dean of SWAC Baseball,” McGowan retired as a coach in 2009 and in 2011, the campus baseball complex was named in his honor. McGowan was inducted into the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. The year 2005 was a big one for McGowan, as he received a proclamation from the state of Mississippi, received the Tom Joyner Award and the Alcorn State University Humanitarian Award.

University President Dr. Felecia M. Nave acknowledged McGowan’s passing as a huge loss to the Alcorn family.

“Alcorn lost one of its giants today,” Nave said. “Coach McGowan was a legend and the epitome of an Alcornite. Throughout his career, he held Alcorn close to his heart. We thank him for the many years of dedicated service to uplifting Alcorn. He will be missed dearly by the hundreds of lives he touched over the years. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Doris McGowan, Willie Jr. and the entire family.”

The university extends its heartfelt condolences to the McGowan family. Funeral service arrangements will be announced in the following days.


Jerdon Hardiman: VDN boy’s basketball Coach of the Year



Jerdon Hardiman (photo via Facebook)

Vicksburg Junior High School head basketball coach Jerdon Hardiman led his team to become the greatest that the city of Vicksburg has seen in a while, leading him to be named the Vicksburg Daily News boy’s basketball Coach of the Year.

Hardiman led the Gators to a successful 18-1 season and an appearance in the Little Six Championship game. The Gators had some big victories along the way including beating Clinton and South Delta who were both undefeated until they played the Gators.

As he held his team to a high standard throughout the year, Hardiman never took it easy on his team at practice. Given the news about this award, Hardiman knew that his hard work was paying off.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as boy’s basketball Coach of the Year,” he said in a statement to the Vicksburg Daily News. “I am graciously humbled by this prestigious award, and I would like to give credit to an incredible assistant coach, DeAndre King and a tremendously talented team of young men whose dedication and diligent work ethic allowed our team to finish the season with an outstanding record of 18-1.

“While this year has been successful for our team, it has been a challenging feat. I would like to thank Vicksburg High School’s head coach Kelvin Carter, the athletic director, Vicksburg-Warren School District and most importantly, my wife and family for all the tremendous support throughout the season. I recognize the importance of a strong support system, and I would like to extend recognition to the community and all the basketball fans who support our efforts.

“Growing up, basketball was a positive outlet for me both physically and emotionally. I learned many important lessons from playing the game. Among the most important was the inevitability of failure. I learned early on through the game that life is not about how many times you get knocked down, but about how many times you get back up. Basketball has always been a passion of mine, and I feel blessed and honored every day for the opportunity to not only coach but act as a role model and influencer in the lives of promising young athletes.

“I was a former assistant coach at Rolling Fork’s South Delta High, head coach at Warren Central and now as a head coach of the VJHS for the last four years, and I am more eager than ever to share my knowledge of the game with a goal of becoming next year’s champions.”

Vicksburg Junior High basketball has always had a big name around the state, and with Hardiman’s leadership, the Gators will continue to be successful on the court.

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Jabari Bowman: VDN male basketball Player of the Year



Jabari Bowman (photo via Facebook)

Averaging 17.3 points per game, Warren Central’s Jabari Bowman is the Vicksburg Daily News male basketball Player of the Year.

Bowman has played power forward and center on the Viking’s varsity team for the last three seasons. This is the second season where Bowman has led the Vikings in points. He put up 13.2 points per game last year as a junior.

He also leads the Vikings in rebounds, averaging nearly eight per game, and is responsible for 13 blocked shots against his opponents.

Bowman has continuously worked hard to accomplish a goal like this one that acknowledges he is the best player in the city.

“I would like to thank God, my family, my coaches and trainers for making me the player I am today,” Bowman said, “and I would also like to thank Vicksburg Daily News for choosing me for Player of the Year.”

During his 2017-2018 sophomore season, Bowman helped the Vikings to a 22-7 record under head coach Bruce Robinson. Bowman’s senior season came to an end on Feb. 14, with a 77-66 loss to Clinton.

Although his high school basketball career is over, Bowman will continue to do great on the court at the college level. He has announced that he will play basketball at Jones Community College next season.

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Culkin Chief Frederick a critical part of Satartia rescue team with Briggs and Garrard



Fire boss Jerry Briggs and Culkin Fire Chief Lamar Frederick train new Warren County fire fighters Monday night.

Culkin Fire Chief Lamar Frederick was with Jerry Briggs and Shane Garrard when they rescued the three unresponsive men in the Satartia gas leak disaster last weekend.

The original report did not include Frederick. Today, Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs confirmed that not only was Frederick with them, his help and expertise made all the difference in the rescue.

“There is no way Shane and I could have gotten all three of those guys out,” Briggs said. “Thank the powers that be Lamar was there. This would be a tragic story otherwise.”

Dozens of vehicles near the scene of the pipeline explosion stalled on the roadway due to a lack of oxygen leaving the occupants in deathly danger. Several people were rescued running away from their vehicles and the deadly gas cloud.

Frederick, Garrard and Briggs were searching the blast area for people who may have been stranded. They were riding in a Ranger utility task vehicle, each wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus. The rescuers turned down Perry Creek Road near Satartia to check on a house at the end of the road. Just over the last hill, they noticed vehicle lights and went to inspect the scene. Garrard saw someone slumped in the passenger seat and recognized the signs of respiratory distress. Shining the flashlight the team saw the driver and the back seat passenger.

All three of the young men in the vehicle were in bad shape. They were non-responsive and had white foam covering their mouths and noses, a sign that they were near death from oxygen deprivation.

A Ranger UTV similar to the one driven by Lamar Frederick.

Frederick was piloting the UTV and was challenged to keep it running because of the lack of oxygen in the air.

Frederick maneuvered the sputtering vehicle next to the car and then assisted Garrard and Briggs to retrieve the three young men, all while keeping the UTV running and ensuring they all had air. The rescue team also began to provide oxygen to the distressed men.

Frederick drove the crowded and overweight UTV with the extra breathing tanks, the rescue team and the three victims safely back to the staging area some four miles from the recovery site.

Lamar Frederick was as vital in saving those young men’s lives as Briggs and Garrard. He is one of Warren County’s finest, and we, as a community, are blessed to have him as the Chief of the Culkin Fire Department.

Lamar and Shondail Frederick (photo from their social media)


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