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Hinds CC Esports players ready to score big in second season

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Rivers Burnette, Jonathan Washington and Iquez Common practice their esports moves at Hinds Esports Arena. (photo courtesy Hinds CC)

The second season of esports at Hinds Community College starts 2020-21 riding a wave of momentum after producing a national champion last year and burgeoning popularity on college campuses nationwide as COVID-19 limits in person sports competition.

A team of 18 players will take the controllers in six games this fall season in a newly remodeled Esports Arena on the Raymond Campus. Appearing on the program’s gaming consoles this fall are:

  • Madden 21, the most recent version of the long-running, officially licensed NFL video football game
  • NBA 2K21, the most recent version of the basketball simulation game based on the NBA
  • Fortnite, the uber-popular fighting and battle video game
  • Overwatch, a popular multiplayer shooting game
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the fifth installment of the crossover fighting game series
  • Valorant, a recently released multiplayer tactical shooting game

Hinds is the lone community college in Mississippi competing in esports, which was recognized officially in 2019 by the National Junior College Athletic Association. In fall 2019, former Hinds student Joshua Brandon, of Vicksburg, won the national championship in esports after an undefeated season in Madden NFL 19.

Players must maintain a 2.0 GPA, the equivalent of passing 12 credit hours, to be eligible to play.

The fall season is set to begin Oct. 5. The NJCAAE, the juco sports governing body’s esports arm, has registered 60 member colleges in electronic video sports for 2020-21, including 33 new programs.

At Hinds, a former storage room inside the McLendon Library on the Raymond Campus has been renovated to accommodate the student activity, complete with six high-definition monitors and gaming stations, plus a coach’s corner to quickly track player academics at any given time. It also has a Wall of Champions, one to which Hinds Esports head coach Tiki Broome hopes to add more names to go along with Brandon’s achievement.

“We’re growing the sports we play in esports in response to demand,” Broome said. “There are a lot of students here who want to play. And we’ve just moved into a new space on campus to do that.”

The NJCAA hasn’t issued rankings on any sport this fall, but Broome said gaming-specific entities such as EA Sports have the esports team at Hinds ranked in the top 10 nationally.

One “returning starter” to this fledgling Eagle sport is Iquez Common, of Jackson, who advanced to the third round of tournament play in Super Smash Bros. last spring.

“I’ve loved playing video games – ever since I was a kid when I would play Sonic the Hedgehog,” said Common, who is pursuing a career in elementary education. “I love that I’m able to come to school, find something I love to do and help my school out.”

Jonathan Washington, of Clinton, who is studying communications in hopes of becoming a sportscaster, and Rivers Burnette, of Flowood, the first female student to participate in esports at Hinds, see it as a way to have fun, make friends and help each other achieve their academic goals at the same time.

“I grew up playing sports video games like NCAA Football and Madden,” Washington said. “For gaming to be part of college, it’s really neat.”

Burnette grew up playing video games with her dad and is studying for a health care career, possibly in physical therapy, after battling illnesses as a child and spending a lot of time in hospitals. She sees gaming for Hinds as just another extension of the Hinds family spirit present in other competitive sports and student endeavors.

“The community of people is good to have here, because it’s harder to make friends in college – for me, at least,” she said. “Of course, you have to keep up with your grades like with other sports like football. It’s a lot of fun and the team here is like family.”

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USACE temporarily closes part of Arkabutla Lake campground

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(Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12730385)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District has temporarily closed part of the South Abutment Campground at Arkabutla Lake due to a power outage.

A total of 57 campsites are affected, and repairs to the electrical system are expected to continue into next week. Current campers may move from their original sites during this time. The impacted sites will remain closed to reservations until repairs are completed.

The remainder of South Abutment Campground is open for reservations, as well as Dub Patton Campground. Campsites can be reserved online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.

For more information, contact the Arkabutla Lake Field Office at 662-562-6261.

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Crime

Robber uses a gun to steal bike from 13-year-old

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The Vicksburg Police Department reports the following incidents occurred Monday, Oct. 26, and Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Monday at 5:52 p.m. officers with the Vicksburg Police Department responded to the area of Fairground Street in reference to a strong-arm robbery. The complainant stated that an unknown black male pushed his 13-year-old son off his bike, and when his son tried to retrieve his bike, the unknown male pointed a gun at him.

On Tuesday at 8:11 p.m. officers responded to the 400 block of Cain Ridge Road in reference to shots fired. According to witnesses, subjects in a maroon sedan fired six shots. One 9-mm shell casing was recovered at the scene. An hour later, officers were dispatched to Domino’s Pizza, 725 Highway 61 South, where one of the delivery drivers reported someone had shot at his car while he was stopped at the intersection of Cain Ridge Road and Columbia Avenue. A bullet hole was found in the trunk of the vehicle.

Tuesday at 8:41 p.m., officers responded to a residence in the 700 block of Fort Hill Drive in reference to an auto burglary. The victim stated that an unknown black male entered his 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe and took less than $10 in loose change.

If you have information on any of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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Events

Women leaders invited to Empower Hour on Thursday

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Justice Court Judge Gay Polk-Payton

Women leaders in Vicksburg and Warren County are invited to Empower Hour at noon Thursday at the Warren County Courthouse on the Jackson Street side.

The event is sponsored by Circuit Court Judge Toni Walker Terrett of Mississippi’s Ninth Judicial District, and features Justice Court Judge Gay Polk-Payton from Forrest County as well as trailblazers Gertrude Young and Patricia “Petesy” Peterson Smith.

Seating will be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions and be sure to wear your mask.

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