NEMCC Sports Hall of Fame
Northeast Mississippi Community College
Sports Hall of Fame
Audrey Covington (Women’s Basketball 1986-87, 1987-88)
Audrey Covington starred on the hardwood during one of the most successful periods for the Lady Tiger basketball team.
During her first year, Covington helped lead Ricky Ford’s Lady Tigers to the 1986-87 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship with a perfect 34-0 record.
In Covington’s first year, Northeast swept through the regular season and knocked off Northwest Mississippi Community College 80-78 in the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Championship before heading to the NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament.
In the Region XXIII Tournament, Northeast earned a return trip to the national tournament in Senatobia by dispatching Utica (Hinds) in the championship game and the Lady Tigers rode that momentum to a four-game winning streak in theDivision I women’s national tournament – including knocking off St. Gregory’s in the national championship game 68-64.
In addition to winning the NJCAA national championship, Covington was a two-year starter under Ford and was named to the MACJC All-State and the NJCAA All-Region teams during her time in Booneville.
Following her career as a Lady Tiger, Covington stayed with the Tiger theme when she signed to play with Memphis State University for a pair of seasons in 1988-89 and 1989-90.
Benjamin Guy Gardner (Men’s Basketball 1998-99, 1999-2000)
Benjamin Guy Gardner helped lead the Northeast Tiger basketball team back to the national tournament during his time in Booneville.
Gardner, a two-time Tiger Award recipient, was captain of the 2000 Tiger basketball team that captured the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division, the MACJC State Championship and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XXIII championship en route to a NJCAA national tournament appearance under former Tiger basketball coach Mike Lewis.
During his sophomore year in Booneville, Gardner finished the year second in assists and steals and was named to the MACJC All-State first team and the NJCAA RegionXXIII team as well.
Following his sophomore campaign, Gardner was selected to play in the MACJC Mississippi JUCO All-Star game in Decatur.
When not busy on the hardwood for the Tigers, Gardner was selected as Mr. Northeast Mississippi Community College and was also honored as an inductee into the Northeast Student Hall of Fame.
Gardner was also elected as a Student Government Association (SGA) freshman class favorite during his first year at Northeast and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Gardner parlayed his successful Tiger career into a career with the Mississippi State University Bulldog basketball team where he helped the Bulldogs win the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament championship in 2002.
Gardner helped lead the Bulldog basketball team to 27 wins – the most ever at that time – and was awarded the coveted Babe McCarthy Award at Mississippi State University.
Gardner also excelled in the classroom for the Bulldogs as well and was named to the All-SEC Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll and was a member of the Dean’s andPresident’s list while earning his Master’s in Education in Educational Administration in Starkville.
Freddie Copeland (Men’s Basketball 1973-74, 1974-75)
Freddie Copeland was one of the Tiger basketball team’s most prolific scorers during the mid-1970s.
Copeland donned the Tiger black and gold in 1973-74 and 1974-75 and became a mainstay in the statistical categories for Northeast. Copeland led the Tigers in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage during his time as a Tiger.
Copeland was also honored with the prestigious Tiger Award during his time in Booneville and was named to the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State basketball team.
Against Coahoma Community College on February 8, 1975, Copeland showed his scoring prowess by dropping 46 points against the Tigers in a 113-89 win over Coahoma.
After his time at Northeast, Copeland used his basketball talents to help guide the University of North Alabama Lions to one of its best seasons in school history.
In his junior season at UNA, Copeland helped the Lions post a 19-6 overall mark and a 9-4 record in the Gulf South Conference. UNA’s 19 wins was one of the best seasons in school history and the Lions’ 12 home wins set a school-record for most wins by a Lion basketball team at that time.
Not only did Copeland help transform his basketball teams offensively, Copeland was a threat on the defensive side of the ball as well. Under Lion head coach Bill Jones, Copeland and the Lions held the opposition to just 65 points a game during his junior season.
While at UNA, Copeland led the team in field goal percentage and rebounds while being named a small college honorable mention All-American and the Most Valuable Player of the Gulf South Conference.
Brandi Vondenstein Dannelly (Softball 2001-02, 2002-03)
Brandi Vondenstein Dannelly becomes the first Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) softball player to be inducted into the college’s Sports Hall of Fame.
UnderVondenstein’s guidance, Northeast’s softball team reached the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament during her final year in Booneville.
During her two years in Booneville, Vondenstein led the Lady Tiger softball team to a combined 58-29 and remarkable 28-4 record in the North Division.
In the 2003 season, Northeast finished the year 32-17 and perfect in the North at 12-0 while winning the North Division title, the NJCAA Region XXIII championship and appeared in the NJCAA National Tournament in Dodge City, Iowa.
Vondenstein became a hard ‘out’ for the opposition and struck out just two times in 129 at bats during her sophomore season – an average of one strikeout per every 64.5 at bats for the Lady Tiger third baseman.
In addition to helping lead the Lady Tigers to the national tournament, Vondenstein was named an National Fast-Pitch Coaches’ Association (NFCA) All-Region Louisville Slugger, an NJCAA All-American, an MACJC All-State selection and was picked to be part of the NFCA’s All-South Region team following her sophomore year.
In 2003, Vondenstein also served as team captain of the Lady Tiger softball team and was named an NJCAA Academic All-American.
After her time at Northeast, Vondenstein donned the black and green for Delta State and became an All-Gulf South Conference player at third base for the Lady Statesmen.
During her two years at Delta State, Vondenstein started 112 of 115 games for the Lady Statesmen and was on the Gulf South Conference’s All-Academic Team and was honored by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning with the Hollbrook Award for Academic Distinction in 2005.
Vondenstein later led the Bayou Academy Lady Colts to a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) state championship in softball in 2006 – and had an 83-18 record with the Lady Colts. Vondenstein’s state championship in 2006 helped set the stage for five-consecutive state championships by the Lady Colts.
Malcolm Kuykendall (Alumni)
Former Tiger Malcolm Kuykendall came to Northeast Mississippi Junior College in 1966-68 and spent the rest of his professional life in education.
Since transferring from Northeast in 1968, Kuykendall went on to get his Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Delta State University in 1970 and his masters of education from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 1977.
However it was the time that Kuykendall spend on the hardwood and as a high school and school district administrator where the former Tiger left his mark.
After a two-year stint at Nettleton High School (1970-72), Kuykendall relocated to Pine Grove and it was between Pine Grove and Belmont (1982-95) where Kuykendall brought back eight state championships and four state runner-up finishes to the northeast Mississippi region.
During his 10 years at Pine Grove (1972-82), Kuykendall won three state championships in 1977, 1981 and 1982.
At Belmont (1982-95), Kuykendall found his calling with five state championships and four state runner-up finishes.
Kuykendall captured the state championship in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 and in his final year 1995 and finished as the state runner-up in 1984, 1989, 1990 and 1991.
During his coaching career, Kuykendall compiled a 669-139 record while coaching women’s basketball and a 348-182 mark while coaching men’s basketball. Kuykendall was named the Mississippi Coach of the Year four times – 1981, 1985, 1988 and 1993 – and was his district’s coach of the year eight times.
Kuykendall was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 2000, the Delta State University Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001 and was a member of the inaugural class of inductees for the Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
In addition to his coaching time, Kuykendall was also an assistant principal and principal in the Tishomingo County Special Municipal Separate School District for almost a quarter of a century where he helped the district reach new heights as it was recognized with some the highest accountability rankings according to both Mississippi and federal standards.
Kuykendall wrapped up his educational career as the Superintendent for the Tishomingo County Special Municipal Separate School District where the district had one of the best graduation and dropout rates according to Mississippi Accountability Standards.
UnderKuykendall’s leadership, the Tishomingo County Special Municipal Separate School District was recognized as a High Performing District each year.
Kuykendall was a member of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents (MASS) Board of Directors in 2011 and 2012 and was named the 2012 Mississippi Superintendent of the year.
Jim Drewry (Tiger Football 1950-51)
Jim Drewry led Northeast to its first two winning seasons as the Tiger quarterback on the 1950 and 1951 seasons.
In 1950, Drewry helped lead a Doug Hamley squad to a 6-2-2 mark and the Mississippi Conference Valley Championship with a 32-14 win over Sunflower Junior College.
During his time as the Tiger quarterback, Drewry guided Northeast to a 11-6-3 overall record that included back-to-back wins over Northwest Mississippi Community College (31-0 in 1950 and 34-7 in 1951) and Northeast’s 47 points against UT-College in 1951 still ranks as the sixth highest point total in school history and as the fourth highest winning margin for Northeast in its 52-year football history.
Following his time at Northeast, Drewry went on to play at Delta State University but it was his time on the sidelines at Kossuth, Booneville and Tishomingo high schools that Drewry made a name for himself.
However, it was his time at Delta State that Drewry got his first taste of being a coach and helped guide the 1954 Statesmen football team to an undefeated record and a national championship as part of E.B. Chadwick's coaching staff as a student assistant.
Drewry began his coaching career at Kossuth in 1958 and spent two seasons as the Aggies head man before moving to Brandon as an assistant coach in 1960.
Drewry returned home in 1965 and began his first stint as Booneville’s head coach leading the Blue Devils to three bowl games and a Tombigbee Conference co-championship in 1977 before leaving for his second stint at Kossuth from 1979-86.
After retiring to sell insurance in 1987-88, Drewry returned to the sidelines at now defunct Tishomingo High School in 1989 before returning to the Blue Devils in 1990 and guiding Booneville until his retirement in spring 2010.
During his second stint with Booneville, Drewry saw most of his success leading the Blue Devils to three state championships and four state runner-up finishes.
Drewry carried his work ethic into his final year as Booneville head coach where in his 50th season as a head coach, the former Northeast signal caller directed his team to a 13-1 record (starting out 13-0) and appearance in the Class 3A state semifinals.
In the spring 2010, Drewry finally hung up his coaching whistle at the age of 79 and with over 50 years in the football.
Drewry, who had retired one time before after the 1987 season, ended his coaching career as Mississippi’s all-time winningest football coach, passing Joe Bradshaw in the fall of 2009 with a 59-6 win over S.V. Marshall in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs.
Drewry finished his career with a 346-157-5 record in head coaching stops at Booneville, Kossuth and Tishomingo where his teams made the state playoffs 17 times and brought home the Class 2A state championship trophy in 1990, 1999 and 2000.
Drewry has been the recipient of many awards and honors and was named the 2009 Power of Influence Award recipient by the American Football Coaches Association.
In addition to the 2009 Power of Influence Award, Drewry has also been inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame.
In 2000, he was inducted into the Delta State University Alumni Coaches Hall of Fame and was named the Tombigbee Coach of the Year in 1967, 1969, 1978 along with being the District 1 Coach of the Year in 1985.
Drewry has also been honored as the Division 1-3A Coach of the Year in 1986, the Daily Corinthian Coach of the Year in 1993, 1997 and 1999 along with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Coach of the Year in 1999 and the Class 2A Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000. In 2003, Drewry was named All-American Football Foundation's Gerald R. Ford All-American High School Coach of the Year, and in 2005, he was the first Mississippi recipient of the NSSA-USA Football Champions Award. Drewry has also had the honor of having a street named after him in the city of Booneville.
Currently, Drewry sits on an advisory board for the the American Football Coaches Association and has been figured in a trio of books about football in the state of Mississippi — Gridiron Gold, Gridiron Glory (which featured the Northeast alumni on the cover) and Y'all vs. Us showcasing the rivalry between Booneville and Baldwyn.
Johnny Buskirk (Tiger Football 1968-69)
Johnny Buskirk’s career at Northeast started off a new era of Tiger football. Buskirk championed the Northeast football team during the first two seasons after coming off an 11-year hiatus from 1957-67 and led Northeast to an 11-7 record during that time.
During his freshman year at Northeast, Buskirk was named the most outstanding player averaging nearly 270 yards per game running and passing and was nationally ranked for his offensive talents.
Buskirk’s sophomore season saw the Tiger signal caller bring the most success to Northeast’s football program since Horace McCool coached the team to a 10-1 mark in 1956.
Buskirk led Northeast to a 7-2 mark his sophomore year and more importantly was the Tiger Award recipient for that year and was named the most outstanding back in Mississippi inside the junior college ranks.
Buskirk is one of only a handful of football players to end his Northeast career on a four-game win streak. During the 1969 season, Buskirk capped his sophomore season with wins over Northwest, Copiah-Lincoln, a close 20-18 decision over Itawamba and a season-ending win over Perkinston.
Under Coach Bill Ward’s guidance, Buskirk was one of two National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Americans produced by Northeast in 1969. Joining Buskirk on the All-American team was tight end Donnie
In 1969, Buskirk led the Northeast to a 7-2 mark and in both his freshman and sophomore years, the former Tiger signal caller led Northeast to high offensive outputs.
In 1968, Northeast put up 48 points against Itawamba and then turned the trick again in 1969 with a 48-14 showing against East Central. The 48-point performance ranks fifth in school history for points scored and sits just one touchdown and extra point away from the top mark.
Following his time at Northeast, Buskirk took his skills to Mississippi College where he was a quarterback, running back and kick returner.
Buskirk’s talents helped him set a record at Mississippi College that holds to today – his six kickoff returns against Furman College in 1970 are still listed in the Mississippi College record book.
Following his time at Mississippi College, Buskirk entered the coaching ranks and was named the Tippamingo Conference Coach of the Year in 1974.
Vincent Del Negro (Tiger Basketball 1958-59, 1959-60)
Vincent Del Negro would have made Dominque Wilkins jealous as the “Human Highlight Reel” in the late 1950s.
In his first six games as a freshman on Bonner Arnold’s Tiger basketball team, Del Negro broke out for 172 points – a 34.4 points per game average – and never looked back.
During his freshman season in 1958-59, Del Negro helped lead the Tiger basketball team to the North Half Tournament and a 9-3 mark during North Division play before becoming an unanimous selection for the All-State Team.
In his first six games with the Tigers, Del Negro dropped 32, 32, 32, 34, 39 and 42 points – the latter two coming in a 109-85 win over Memphis State and a 96-95 decision over East Mississippi in Scooba.
During the 1959-60 season, Northeast made an improvement on its 12-12 record of Del Negro’s freshman campaign with a 15-12 mark that included wins over Freed-Hardeman and nationally ranked Vincennes (Ind.) 62-61.
In the one-point win over Vincennes, Del Negro let fellow Tiger captain Bobby McCarley knock down the last shot – a 23-foot jumper – but the 6-5 center had the final say, when Del Negro pulled down the game-ending rebound to seal the victory.
While scoring just 16 points against Freed-Hardeman in their first meeting, Del Negro made up for lost time with a 45-point effort against Freed-Hardeman in an 83-69 win and turned the trick once again with a 45-point night against East Mississippi in a 100-74 showing.
Del Negro’s biggest night came in a 46-point effort against Sunflower.
Del Negro was also popular with the student population as evident from him being voted Most Athletic on the Northeast campus during his sophomore year.
McCarley and Del Negro were also selected to play in the national all-star game together in Coffeyville, Kansas at the culmination of his sophomore season.
During his second season in Booneville, Del Negro led the nation with a 33.4 points per game average while racking up 1,022 points and was named a first-team All-American.
Del Negro helped lead Northeast to the North Half championship his sophomore season as the Tigers finished as runner-ups in the state.
Del Negro was an all-around athlete. During regular season play, the 6-5 center average 33.024 points per game, in North Half play 34 points per game and in the State Tournament 31.5 points per game.
In his two seasons at Northeast, Del Negro average 32.6 points per game as a freshman and 33.4 points per game as a sophomore.
Following his time in Booneville, Del Negro played for legendary coach Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky after signing a grant-in-aid scholarship with the program following his appearance in the national all-star game.
Sherry Slayton Holland (Lady Tiger Basketball 1985-86, 1986-87)
Sherry Slayton Holland made an immediate impact on the Northeast basketball scene when she joined Ricky Ford’s Lady Tigers during the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons.
Alongside Phyllis Stafford for two years and Kunshinge Sorrell Howard her first year, Slayton helped guide the Lady Tigers to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament in both her years in Booneville.
During her freshman season, Slayton and the Lady Tigers dropped only one game all season and posted a 31-0 record heading into the national championship game against Odessa, Texas in 1986.
Slayton bested her freshman year one season later when the Lady Tigers went undefeated -- 34-0 -- en route to the 1987 national championship.
During her two years at Northeast, Slayton amassed a 65-1 record on the hardwood and was named to the MACJC All-State and NJCAA Region XXIII teams both years at Northeast.
Northeast swept through the regular season during Slayton’s sophomore year undefeated and knocked off Northwest Mississippi Community College 80-78 for the MACJC State Championship and then swept through the Region XXIII tournament before heading to Senatobia for the NJCAA National Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Northeast made good on its return trip as the Lady Tigers won four straight games in the Division I women's national tournament -- including the national championship game when Northeast upended St. Gregory's in the national championship game 68-64.
It was during the 1986-87 National Tournament that Slayton made a name for herself on the hardwood and was named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
During her sophomore season, Slayton led the Lady Tigers in steals per game and assists per game with 3.8 and 6.6 per game, respectively. Northeast’s undefeated season also saw Slayton piece together a 14.2 points per game average.
In her two years at Northeast, Northeast captured two North Division championships, two state championships, two Region XXIII championships, back-to-back Tyler, Texas Invitational Championships, a national runner-up finish and a national championship.
Following her sophomore season, Slayton was named an NJCAA All-American alongside Lady Tiger Phyllis Stafford.
Following her time at Northeast, Slayton took her talents to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) where she was joined by a pair of former Lady Tigers – Phyllis Stafford and Jackie Martin.
Ricky Ford (Lady Tiger Basketball 1981-2011, Athletic Director 2006-Present)
Former Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball coach Ricky Ford left his "built Ford tough" mark on many Lady Tiger teams since coming to Northeast in 1981.
On March 7, 2011 Ford announced he was stepping down as women's basketball coach at Northeast.
Ford ended his career at Northeast with an overall record of 588-226.
During his 30-year coaching career, Ford only had four sub-.500 seasons and the first of those did not come until his 2002-03 Lady Tigers finished 11-12 but even it finished as the North Division runner-up.
Within five years since taking over the Lady Tiger program in 1981, Ford had transformed the Lady Tigers into national title contenders that included a national runner-up finish in 1986 and a national championship in 1987.
During Ford's illustrious career, the Lady Tiger basketball coach led his team to 15 North Division titles, nine MACJC State Championships with 6 (six) of those state championships being consecutive and three Region XXIII crowns while leading the Lady Tigers to the National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) national basketball tournament on three separate occasions.
Ford went to the national tournament a final time in 2005-06 as the Lady Tigers captured the North Division, MACJC State and Region XXIII titles and finished the season as the nation's No. 21-ranked team after appearing in the national event in Salina, Kan.
Following his final national tournament appearance, Ford was honored as the Division I, District O, Region XXIII Coach of the Year - an award that is given to the head coach of each of the 16 regional championship teams.
One year after his national tournament appearance, Ford continued his success in the MACJC as the veteran mentor led the Lady tigers back to the Region XXIII tournament for a twenty-fifth straight year as the Lady Tigers once again captured the North Division - their fourth straight division title - and successfully defended their 2006 MACJC State Title.
While Ford may hung up his coaching whistle, the veteran coach still has plans to carry that same passion he showed on the basketball court into the academic life.
Ford was appointed Dean of Student Services at the beginning of the 2011 spring semester following the retirement of Kenneth Pounders, and is currently in his sixth year as athletic director for the college.
His responsibilities as athletic director has Ford overseeing the day-to-day operations of an athletic department that features eight varsity sports, an all-female cheerleading squad and also coordinates the annual MACJC All- Star Football Classic game that is held each year in December.
Prior to coming to Northeast, Ford built successful basketball programs at Booneville High School coaching the Lady Blue Devils for four years and the Blue Devils for a pair of seasons.
Ford's overall career record stands at 676-253 and carries a winning percentage of 72.7 percent into retirement.
Before putting on the coaching whistle, Ford also played basketball under Northeast Sports Hall of Fame coach/basketball player Kenneth Lindsey.
Mike Grier (Tiger Football 1968, 1969; Tiger Baseball 1969, 1970)
• Grier was a multi-sport athlete for the Tigers clocking time on the gridiron in 1968 and 1969 before flipping over to the baseball diamond in 1969 and 1970.
While on the gridiron for the Tigers, Grier led the Tigers and the North Division in interceptions by picking off eight passes and was named to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ (MACJC) All-State Team in 1969. During that year, Grier finished second on the team in total tackles.
During his first year at Northeast, Grier was a first-team member of the All-North Half team in 1968.
After starring on the gridiron of two year, Grier turned his attention to baseball where the Selmer, Tenn., native continued his success leading the Tiger baseball team in home runs in both years.
Grier’s final year with the Tigers saw him led the Tigers to a runner-up finish in the MACJC State Tournament as part of the team. Following his time at Northeast, Grier headed to Eastern Illinois University from 1970-72 and set a then-school record for career interceptions with 14. Grier’s senior season with Eastern Illinois turned out to be his best when the defensive back was named to the first team all-conference defensive team and was named a first-team All-American for small colleges in 1972.
Grier’s 1972 season continues to be in the record books for Eastern Illinois as he finished second in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with 11 interceptions -- and set a season record at Eastern Illinois, which stands today. Grier’s 11 interceptions in a season are four more than any other Eastern Illinois player has been able to record in a season.
Jack Martin (Tiger Basketball, 1950-51 1953-54)
• Martin’s career at Northeast was broken by his obligation to the war effort but Martin did not let a 13-month tour in the Republic of South Korea stop his athletic accomplishments.
During both his years at Northeast, Martin carried the Northeast Tiger basketball team to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Basketball Tournament.
Martin, who was known for his defensive prowess on the hardwood, ended up guarding the opposing team’s best player. During his first year at Northeast, Martin teamed with Charles ‘Doodle’ Floyd -- who is a charter member of the Northeast Sports Hall of Fame -- and carried the Tiger basketball team to a runner-up finish in the national tournament.
In 1950-51, Martin led the Tigers to Hutchinson, Kan., before Northeast dropped the championship game to Los Angeles College of California 67-63.
Martin’s charisma followed him back to Northeast following his break from the academic environment for the war effort. Martin was selected at Mr. Northeast Mississippi Junior College for 1953-54 even after missing the previous year as part of the United States Army.
Following his time at Northeast, Martin joined up with The Whiskered Wizards, a semi-professional traveling basketball team, that traversed the southern United States playing against other independent basketball teams.
Kunshinge Sorrell Howard (Lady Tiger Basketball, 1984-85, 1985-86)
• Sorrell made a name for herself on the hardwood in Bonner Arnold Coliseum from 1984-86 and carried the Lady Tigers’ basketball team to the national championship game in 1986.
During her time under Northeast women’s basketball coach Ricky Ford, Sorrell was named to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State teams in both seasons with the Lady Tigers and pulled off the rare double by being named to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Region XXIII team in both years at Northeast as well.
During her sophomore season, Sorrell helped lead the Lady Tiger basketball team to the national basketball tournament and collected first-team All-American honors for her final season with the Lady Tigers.
During the 1985-86 season, Sorrell and the Lady Tigers dropped only one game all season and scorched the record books for a 31-0 season before facing off against Odessa, Texas in the national championship game.
Following her time at Northeast, Sorrell took her talents to Mississippi State University where she was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team both years -- 1987-88 and 1988-89.
Sorrell’s final year with the Lady Bulldogs saw the former Northeast Lady Tiger lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 20.7 points per game with 662 points in 32 games.
Despite only playing two seasons for the Lady Bulldogs, Sorrell amassed 1,292 points (20.8 points per game) -- good enough for eight all-time on the Lady Bulldog scoring charts. All seven Lady Bulldogs ahead of Sorrell on the list played for four seasons at Mississippi State.
Sorrell was also only one of two two-year players at Mississippi State to break the 1,000-point plateau. Mary Boatwright, a Lady Bulldog from 1979-81, amassed 1,177 points during her career.
Phyllis Stafford Dilworth (Lady Tiger Basketball 1985-86, 1986-87)
• Stafford joined the Northeast Lady Tiger basketball team in Kunshinge Sorrell’s final year with the Lady Tigers but the duo made an impact on the basketball world.
Stafford, who was a member of the Lady Tiger basketball team from 1985-87, helped lead Northeast to the national tournament in both her years in Booneville.
During her freshman season, Stafford and the Lady Tigers dropped only one game all season and posted a 31-0 record heading into the national championship game against Odessa, Texas in 1986.
Stafford bested her freshman year one season later when the Lady Tigers went undefeated -- 34-0 -- en route to the 1987 national championship. Stafford made sure of the return trip to the national tournament when the forward broke out for 31 points and 14 rebounds in the Region XXIII championship game in Clinton against Utica (Hinds) in earning the return trip to the national tournament.
During her two years at Northeast, Stafford amassed a 65-1 record on the hardwood and was named to the MACJC All-State and NJCAA Region XXIII teams both years at Northeast. Stafford’s sophomore season at Northeast saw her selected as a first-team All-American by the NJCAA.
Northeast swept through the regular season during Stafford’s sophomore year undefeated and knocked off Northwest Mississippi Community College 80-78 for the MACJC State Championship and then swept through the Region XXIII tournament before heading to Senatobia for the NJCAA National Basketball Tournament.
Northeast made good on its return trip as the Lady Tigers won four straight games in the Division I women’s national tournament -- including the national championship game when Northeast upended St. Gregory’s in the national championship game 68-64.
Following her time at Northeast, Stafford took her talents to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) where she was named to the coaches’ All-Southeastern Conference second team in 1989.
David Carnell (Tiger Football Coach 1972-1996; Lady Tiger Softball Coach 1993-2005, Athletic Director 1996-2005)
• Carnell’s dedication to Northeast Mississippi Community College spans nearly five decades. Carnell originally came to the college in 1972 as a member of the Northeast Mississippi Junior College football coaching staff but the former athletic director left his mark in a totally different sport when guided Northeast’s transition from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball at the turn of the century and had the Lady Tigers in the national tournament within three years.
Carnell’s run on the gridiron at Northeast came after the long-time coach helped found the program at Biggersville High School and served as the high school’s first football coach. Carnell was an assistant football coach for 10 years -- 1972-82 before taking over the reins of the program from W.B. “Bill” Ward in 1983. Carnell won two of his first four games including victories over Holmes (15-7) and Coahoma (45-0) as the Tigers went on to finish the 1983 season as the North Division runner-ups.
After three years at the helm, Carnell gave up the head-coaching role and returned to be an assistant coach for the Tiger football team until 1996 when he dedicated his focus to softball.
Carnell resurrected the Northeast softball program in 1993 after an almost 10-year hiatus away from competition and posted a 17-16 record during the Northeast’s first year back in slow-pitch competition and started a run to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA)
Region XXIII Tournament that would stretch through the transition to fast-pitch competition and until his retirement in 2005.
During Carnell’s years, Northeast was the only school in Mississippi to boast a 13-year run in the Region XXIII Tournament – covering both slow- and fast-pitch softball – 1994-2006.
Carnell replaced Ward once again in 1996 when the veteran coach took over the role of athletic director for Northeast Mississippi Community College and held the position while coaching softball until his retirement in 2005-06.
During his time on the slow-pitch diamond, Carnell led the Northeast Lady Tiger softball team to four straight North Division runner-up finishes -- 1994-98 -- before finally breaking through as the North Division champion in 1999. Carnell led the Lady Tigers to seven straight Region XXIII tournaments before the college switched to fast-pitch competition in 2001.
Carnell and the Lady Tigers did not miss a note with the switch staking a 28-12 record during their first year in fast-pitch competition, were co-North Division champions, and placed third in the state/region tournament. During the 2000-01 season, Northeast was ranked as high as fifth in the nation twice.
Carnell continued to fine-tune the Northeast fast-pitch softball team with five straight North Division championships --2001-05 -- and saw his team finish as the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ state runners-up three straight years from 2003-05.
Northeast’s crowning moment came in 2003 when the Lady Tigers qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Softball Championship after winning the Region XXIII championship.
Northeast came close to a return trip to the national tournament in Carnell’s final years at the helm finishing as the Region XXIII runner-up in 2004 and 2005. Carnell not only pushed his athletes on the diamond but demanded excellence in the classroom as well and was awarded as the NJCAA’s Academic Team of the year in 2000 -- Northeast’s first year of fast-pitch competition -- and was among the top academic teams in the country in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Carnell was named the Region XXIII Coach of the Year in 2003 and was honored as the MACJC Coach of the Year in 2005 and given the NJCAA’s Loyalty Award in 2005.
After retiring, Carnell returned as a part-time assistant coach to the softball program from 2006-08 before finally hanging up his cleats.
In total, Carnell recorded 301 wins against 223 losses during his time as head football and slow- and fast-pitch coach.
Gerald Caveness (Tiger Basketball 1950-51, 1953-54)
Caveness helped lead the Tiger basketball team to a pair of national tournaments during his time on the hardwood for Northeast. Caveness was part of the Tigers’ national runner-up squad in 1951 with Northeast Sport Hall of Fame inductees Kenneth Lindsey and Clyde Jones along with coach Bonner Arnold and a pair of seasons away from the hardwood, Caveness turned the trick with the Tigers again in 1954. During the 1951 season, the Tiger basketball team turned in a 50- 9-1 record.
Clyde Jones (Tiger Basketball 1950-51, 1951-52)
Jones was a standout on the Northeast basketball team from 1950-52 before moving onto Delta State University where he continued his basketball career. During Jones’ time at Northeast, he led the Tiger basketball team a runner-up finish in the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. Jones also helped the Tigers capture the state tournament title as well as the Region VII tournament title in Shreveport, La., en route to the national tournament appearance. During the 1951 season, the Tiger basketball team turned in a 50-9-1 record.
Evelyn Thompson (Lady Tiger Basketball 1986-87, 1987-88)
Thompson made an impact on the Lady Tiger basketball program during her first year at Northeast. Thompson, who appeared on the court for Northeast from 1986-88, helped the Lady Tigers capture the national championship in her initial year with the program. During the Lady Tigers’ run to the national championship, Thompson earned Kodak All-American honors as well as All-Region, All-State and All-Conference awards. Following her career at Northeast, Thompson carried her game to Auburn University where she led the Lady Tigers to a pair of national runner-up finishes.
Larry Parker (Tiger Football 1976, 1977)
Parker, a native of Lauderdale County, carried the load for the Tiger football team during the 1976 and 1977 football seasons. Parker toted the ball an average of 23.5 times during his tenure at Northeast averaging over 100 yards a game for the Tigers. Parker carried the ball 469 times during his two years at Northeast, accumulated 2,232 yards, and registered 16 touchdowns during the 1976 and 1977 seasons. During both his years at Northeast, Parker was named the Tigers’ best offensive back and the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1977. During his sophomore season, Parker was selected to play in the annual all-star football classic and was named to the All-State team as well as being named an honorable mention All-American. Northeast’s sportsmanship award is named after Parker.
Harvey Childers (Tiger Basketball Coach 1985-1992)
During his seven seasons at the Northeast helm, Childers guided the Tigers to a 192-34 record including five North Division titles, one Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges title and three Region XXIII championships. Childers parlayed those three Region XXIII championships into three National Tournament appearances taking the Tigers to the NJCAA National Championship game in 1988-89 with a 23-3 record. Childers guided Northeast to its first Region XXIII championship since 1950 when his Tigers picked up the regional crown in 1986-87.
The Tiger mentor capped his career in 1991-92 when the Tigers went 30-5, won the region and advanced to the National Tournament. Childers had the Tigers ranked as high as No. 3 during his final season.
During its inaugural Sports Hall of Fame class, Northeast inducted ten former coaches, players and supporters of Northeast Mississippi Community College athletics. Harold T. White, W.B. ‘Bill’ Ward, Ken Lindsey, Chuck ‘Doddle’ Floyd, Gene Garret, Adrian Smith, Kenneth ‘Cat’ Robbins, David ‘Nub’ Strickland, Earline ‘Woodsie’ Woods and Bonner Arnold were all honored as members of the college’s first class.
Bonner Arnold (Tiger Basketball Coach, Athletic Director 1948-1974)
Bonner Arnold was head basketball coach, athletic director and physical education instructor at Northeast from 1948-1974. Arnold and legendary Kentucky Wildcat men’s basketball coach Adolph Rupp were friends. As a result of this friendship and the success of the Kentucky basketball program, Arnold wanted the school’s athletic teams to sport a similar nickname. “Fighting Tiger” was adopted. Later, the school’s athletic program grew to include men’s and women’s varsity sports. “Fighting” was dropped and the teams became known as the “Tigers” and “Lady Tigers”. Northeast’s gymnasium, named Bonner Arnold Coliseum after the late coach, opened its doors in 1951. Arnold was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the MACJC (Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges) Sports Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Chuck “Doodle” Floyd (Tiger Basketball 1952-53, 1953-54)
Chuck “Doodle” Floyd was a star and leader of the legendary 1951-52 Cuba High School (Ky.) state runner-up and championship teams. In terms of Color, come-from-behind wins, and popular fan support, the Cuba team of 1952 is considered by many to have no equal in basketball history in Kentucky. Floyd was voted to the Lexington Herald All-State team in 1951 and 1952 and was chosen to participate in Chuck Taylor’s North/South All American Game in 1952. “Doodle” was a Northeast Tiger from 1953-54 where he led the nation in scoring during both years, was voted a Junior College All-American, and made the National Junior College All Tournament Team in 1953 and 1954. Later staring at Mississippi Southern, Floyd scored 66 points in a game versus the University of Alabama in 1955. Floyd has since participated in the Senior Olympics during 2004- 06, qualifying for nationals in 2007.
Gene Garrett (Tiger Basketball 1948-49, 1949-50)
Gene Garrett moved to Booneville during his senior year of high school and later attended Northeast from 1948-50. Garrett shined as a member of the Northeast Tigers basketball team during those years and was named to the All-State Tournament team, All-Region Tournament team, and All-National Tournament team during both his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 1950, Garrett led Northeast to a runner-up finish in the Junior College National Tournament, and for his efforts was named an All-American. Following his Northeast career, Garrett attended Murray State University in Kentucky for one year and was a member of the Racers’ ninth ranked basketball team before being drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps. During the 1951-52 season Garrett led the California Naval District in scoring. He later returned to Murray State where he finished his education.
Ken Lindsey (Tiger Basketball 1950-51, 1951-52; Assistant Basketball Coach)
Ken Lindsey was a two-time All-State selection as a basketball star at Booneville High School during his three-sport career in 1945-1949. Lindsey starred as a basketball player at Northeast from 1950-51 where he was selected as an All-American following both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Lindsey’s 1950 team won 50 games and lost ten. One year later Lindsey, then a sophomore, led the Tigers to a record of 51-1-1. Lindsey later became an assistant coach at Northeast on the 1955-56 state championship team. The Booneville native followed a stellar playing and coaching career with a ten year stint at Vice President of Northwest Community College in Senatobia, Miss., from 1980-1990, where he was responsible for luring the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) women’s national basketball tournament to be hosted by NWCC for three years.
Kenneth “Cat” Robbins (Tiger Basketball Coach, Lady Tiger Basketball Coach 1966-1968)
Kenneth (Cat) Robbins’ coaching career began at Jumpertown High School in 1953, and then to Union County from 1954-65 where he coached both the boys and girls teams at Ingomar High School. Robbins’ 1958 Ingomar girls’ team won the Grand Slam Championship in 1958 with a record of 54 wins and 0 losses. 1962 was another banner year for Robbins at Ingomar as he coached the Ingomar girls to a 53-1 record and a State Championship, while leading the Ingomar boys to a runner-up finish during the same season. Robbins also coached baseball at Ingomar. During his stint at IHS, Cat’s overall girls basketball record was 401 wins and 85 losses, while his boys teams were 328-85. His success there led Robbins to Northeast where he coached both men and women on the basketball court from 1966-68. Under Robbins the 1968 the Northeast Tigers went 28-1 en route to a state title. His coaching career later led him to the University of Mississippi (1969-75) where Robbins was assistant men’s basketball coach, head recruiter, and was instrumental in initiating Ole Miss’ basketball camps. In 1976 Robbins coached the West Union High School boys basketball team to a State Championship with a 52-2 record. Then it was back to the junior college ranks for 13 years as head men’s basketball coach at Northwest Mississippi Junior College from 1977-94. Robbins retired from coaching in 1997 after a two year stint at North Pontotoc High School. All totaled, Robbins coached basketball in high school, college, and the Armed Services for 45 years.
Adrian “Odie” Smith (Tiger Basketball 1954-55, 1955-56)
Adrian Smith of Cincinnati, Ohio, an All-American guard on Northeast’s men’s basketball teams from 1954-1956, averaged approximately 22 points per game during his career. He was named All-American in 1956 and signed with the University of Kentucky. After two years at Kentucky, Smith joined the Army and played on the Pan-American team. He was a member of the undefeated U.S. men’s basketball team that won the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. Smith was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals with the first pick in the fifteenth round of the 1958 draft. He joined the team in 1961. His career also included stops with the San Francisco Warriors and the Virginia Squires of the ABA. During his time the Warriors, legendary Celtic coach Red Aurbach picked him to play in the 1966 All-Star game. Smith was selected Most Valuable Player of the game that year. According to Wikipedia, Smith averaged 11.8 points per game during his professional career. He led the league in free throw shooting percentage during the 1966-67 season, with a success percentage of .903.
David “Nub” Strickland (Tiger Football 1950, 1953)
David “Nub” Strickland was a captain on the 1950, and 1953 Northeast football teams. As twoway player at offensive and defensive end, “Nub” was twice named the All-State at Northeast. After stepping away from his football career in order to fill his obligations with the U.S. Marine Corp, Strickland attended Memphis State University from 1957-58 where he starred on the gridiron, enough so to garner offers to play professional football. Strickland spent time in the CFL with the Ontario Golden Bears for two years, before finishing his pro career with the Denver Broncos. Strickland’s number 88 jersey has been retired by Northeast.
W.B. “Bill” Ward (Tiger Football, Tiger Football Coach, Athletic Director 1948-1949; 1968-1996)
W.B. “Bill” Ward, longtime football coach and athletic director at Northeast, coached his last football game at NEMJC in 1982 and retired as the school’s athletic director in 1996. Ward’s career coaching record stands at 152-118-8. He was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1988 and received a 40-year-service award from that association in 1994. In 1995 the NJCAA honored Coach Ward with the Loyalty Award. The street in Booneville which runs from Second Street to Third Street in front of the south end of Keenum Stadium was named “Coach Billy Ward Drive” in 2004.
Harold T. White (President)
Harold T. White was a member of the 1942 state championship football team at Perkinston Junior College. After the first semester, he entered the United States Army Air Corps and served until the end of World War II. After the war, White returned to Perkinston and graduated in 1947. In 1951 White was hired as assistant football coach at Perkinston and the following year he was named head coach, a position which he held for five years. In 1953 his Bulldogs tied Co-Lin in the Laurel Lions Bowl. White also served as women’s basketball coach and his 1953 team won the South Division championship. He was the college’s athletic director from January 1957 to June 1961. In 1965 Harold White resigned from Perkinston to become President at Northeast Mississippi Junior College. At Northeast White led the resurgence of the dormant Tiger football program by hiring a legendary area high school coach, Bill Ward. He was a staunch supporter of Northeast Tiger athletics and made numerous improvements to the athletic programs of the college.
Earline “Woodsie” Woods (Sports Supporter)
Earline “Woodsie” Woods has been an avid supporter of Northeast athletics since her days as a student. Woodsie was employed at Northeast from 1954-1995 as bookkeeper then as fiscal officer of the college. She has supporter the college’s athletics with both her attendance and her gifts during those 40+ years and continues to do so. She currently supports a variety of the athletic fundraisers of the Development Foundation. A more loyal Tiger fan cannot be found than “Woodsie”. Her name has become synonymous with Northeast through the years. Without a doubt, she has given great time and energy to support the Tigers during the history of the college.