For a sports fan, there’s nothing like watching his or her team win the ultimate championship.
In 1995, I was one excited fanatic when I watched the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. When it comes to high school and college, fans are extremely passionate and cheer hard for their team to win a state or national title. It’s the ultimate goal every player wants to accomplish and the true delight of every fan to experience.
As fans, we're heartbroken when they don't win it all. We hate to wait till next year. In these recent times, we act like if you don't win it all you've had a losing season., Folks, I'm here to remind you that your team won't win it all every year.
The biggest thing we need to remember is just because a team doesn't win it all, it doesn't mean that the team didn't try. Winning the ultimate prize in any sport is something not everybody gets to do. When our team doesn't bring home the big ring, we have to look at the season as a whole. If those players went out, gave everything they had and put out a competitive team that had a chance to win every game, how can we really be upset?
When I look at a great program, I don’t just think about the times it won the ultimate prize. I think about how well the team does even when it doesn’t win it all. The teams that are striving for excellence year in and year out stay relevant and stay in the hunt. Even during an occasional bad season, that team will compete.
Here are a few examples of high school and college teams in our area that are consistently solid.
DSU women’s basketball team
In women’s basketball, the Delta State University Lady Statesmen have won six national championships with 16 total Gulf South Conference Titles. The Lady Statesmen haven’t won the NCAA Division II Title since 1992 but have remained in the hunt most every year. Over the last 26 years, the Lady Statesmen have gone to the NCAA Tournament 20 times with 12 Gulf South Conference Titles.
This past year, DSU finished 12-15 and was put out in the first round of the GSC Tournament to post its first losing season since the 1982-83 year and just the second losing season overall. With the close games the girls played last year and the players coming back, DSU should be ready for success in the upcoming season. The Lady Statesmen’s record since November of 1992 is 620-179 (.776 winning pct.). The program’s all-time record is 1,145-314-3 (.784 winning pct.).
DSU Baseball team
The Delta State University Statesmen recently completed their 35th consecutive winning season by going 42-11 with another trip to the NCAA Division II Baseball Playoffs. During this 35 year-period, DSU has made 22 trips to the postseason with 12 Gulf South Conference Titles, eight World Series appearances and the school’s only NCAA Division II National Championship in 2004. The Statesmen have finished a season with a .600 winning percentage or better 30 times during this 35-year period. The Statesmen’s record since 1984 is 1,395-521-5 (.727 winning pct.). The program’s all-time record stands at 2,012-963-11 (.676 winning pct.). Mike Kinnison, who has been the head coach of the Statesmen for 22 years, has compiled an overall record of 939-299-2 (.758 winning pct.) at Delta State.
West Bolivar High School football team
The West Bolivar High School Eagles have won five state football championships since the Mississippi High School Activities Association went to the state playoff football format in 1981. Since 1981, the Eagles have won been to the playoffs 33 times with 24 division championships to go with those five state titles. Last season provided some challenges for West Bolivar as issues in the school district left the program without a head coach until the early part of August when Nikita Johnson was hired to lead the program with less than three weeks before the start of the season. It took Johnson a little while but after a 2-5-1 start, the Eagles went 4-1 and to finish the year at 6-6-1 in the second round of the 2A State Playoffs. West Bolivar’s record since 1981 is 354-118-2 (.749 winning pct.).
Bayou girls softball and boys baseball teams
The Bayou Academy Lady Colts are known for their seven state softball championships winning the Class A Title six straight years from 2006-11 and then the AA State Title in 2013, but the Lady Colts have shown they’re in the hunt every year when they don’t win it. In 2017, the Lady Colts went 29-6, captured the North AAA Championship and finished state-runners up. They have won 11 North State Titles in their history and haven't had a losing season since the early years of the program in the mid to late 1990s. The Lady Colts’ record since 1999 is 581-177-1 (.766 winning pct.). Current head coach Lauren LaSuzzo has compiled a 298-77 record (.795 winning pct.) with four state championships in nine total seasons at Bayou.
When the Colts finished their season in the first round of the AAA State Playoffs, it marked the 15th year in a row Bayou had made the playoffs in baseball. The Colts have won two state championships (Class A 2007 and 08) in that time frame with 10 district titles and four North State Titles (Class A 2007-10). The Colts haven’t had a losing season during this 15-year run. The Colts’ record since 2004 is 280-112-1 (.714 winning pct.).
Shaw High School boys basketball team
The Shaw High School Hawks have been a force in the area for many years in boys basketball. The Hawks have won four state championships in their history with their recent state titles coming in 1A in 2014 and 15 when they won it in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1973 and 74 seasons when they won back-to-back BB State Championships. This past year, the did struggle with a 9-17 overall record but still made the Region 3-1A Title game for a seventh straight year and went to the playoffs for an 11th straight year. Over the last 21 years competing in 2A and 1A, the Hawks have been to the playoffs 19 times with 11 region championships and a 1A North Half Championship (2014) to go with those two state titles. The Hawks’ record over the last 21 years is 408-236 (.634 winning pct.). Both state championships, 17 of the 19 playoff appearances and nine of the 11 region titles have come under Anthony Davis who has been the Hawks head coach for the last 19 seasons. Davis’ record at Shaw is 370-204 (.645 winning pct.).