Cleveland East Side
The 2013 schedule starts off with a bang with the defending MAIS AAA Champion Jackson Prep school. Next is the team that put Oxford out last year and went on to become the 5A Champions, now as a member of 6A in Starkville. Next, Oxford will play traditonal 3A power Cleveland East Side, then not to be forgotten about the Crosstown Classic matchup against Lafayette. Things do not get easier as defending 1-5A Champion and North Half runner-up West Point comes in to start off region play. Oxford will be battle tested early and often. Come see your Chargers play in 2013!
* - Region 1-5A Game
^ - Crosstown Classic
@ - Homecoming
$ - Senior Night
All game times will be at 7:00 PM
The following is the 2014 JV Football Schedule:
Key: Date - Opponent - Place.
All Games will start at 6:30 PM
August 26 - Lafayette - Home
September 3 - Pontotoc - Home
September 16 - Center Hill - Away
September 23 - Clarksdale - Away
September 30 - Lafayette - Away
October 7 - Clarksdale - Home
October 21 - Tupelo - Away
October 28 - Holly Springs - Home
The following is the 2014 9th Grade Schedule, all games will start at 5:30 PM
August 26 - Lafayette - Home
September 3 - Pontotoc - Home
September 16 - Center Hill - Away
September 23 - Clarksdale - Away
September 30 - Lafayette - Away
October 7 - Clarksdale - Home
October 14 - North Panola - Home
October 21 - Tupelo - Away
Not often do you see a student-athlete do two sports concurrently.
But that is what tri-sport athlete Mary Kathtryn Pearson has done in the past having done Cross Country and Track and Field along with Volleyball. The concurrent sports I mentioned is that she does Cross Country & Volleyball being that those sports' seasons are both in the Fall.
It is rare for anyone to actually pull that off since that kind of thing is frowned upon usually, but since competition dates for Cross Country is on the weekends (Saturdays to be exact) and Volleyball is usually played on Tuesdays and Fridays during district play, this works out well. Volleyball ends at the end of September (and starts very soon) and Cross Country's main meets (District, North Half, State) do not really start until October.
In Track, one would easily guess that since Pearson does Cross Country she is a distance runner. You would be correct. A solid distance runner for the Lady Chargers in both Cross Country and Track that finished in the Top 35 in last year's state Cross Country Meet. She is the lone Senior on the Cross Country team, expect her to be a leader if they want to take down defending State Champion Saltillo this year if not improve on their 4th place finish from last year.
In Volleyball, unlike Anna Kathryn Kessinger's position I mentioned in her post, she is a defender along the back line of the court. Instead of trying to score kills, she is looking to get "digs" on the stat sheet - a "dig" is saving a ball that was hard-hit by the opposing team before it touches the court inbounds. Pearson's job also includes making a good pass for the hitters along the frontline to make a solid hit to the opposite side of the court and score a point - a "setter" if you will.
I made the mistake of not putting her sister Jessica on this list last season, I won't do it this time with this one. I really encourage people to watch the Volleyball team this season. It is pretty fun to watch.
*Editor's Note: No picture could be found for this Senior.
Here is the schedule for the Oxford Lady Chargers in Volleyball. First time listed is for JV, second is for Varsity.
Key: Date - Time - Opponent/Tournament - Location
August 16/17 - TBA - Classic Games - Jackson (Both JV and Varsity will participate)
August 20 - 5:30/6:30 - Senatobia - Away
August 22 - 5:30/6:30 - Ripley - Home
August 24 - 11AM/12PM - Pontotoc - Home
August 27 - 5:30/6:30 - Lewisburg* - Away
September 3 - 5:30/6:30 - Lewisburg* - Home
September 5 - 4PM/5PM - Lafayette - Home
September 7 - TBA - Southaven Tournament - Southaven
September 10 - 5:30/6:30 - Lake Cormorant* - Home
September 12 - 5:30/6:30 - Center Hill* - Away
September 17 - 5:30/6:30 - Clarksdale* - Away
September 19 - 5:00/6:00 - Ridgeland - Home
September 21 - TBA - Ripley - TBD (either @ Ripley or Corinth)
September 21 - TBA - Corinth - TBD (either @ Ripley or Corinth)
September 24 - 5:30/6:30 - Corinth - Away
September 26 - 5:30/6:30 - Pontotoc - Away
October 1 - 5:30/6:30 - Lake Cormorant* - Away
October 3 - 5:30/6:30 - Clarksdale* - Home
October 8 - 5:30/6:30 - Center Hill* - Home
October 10 - 4PM/5PM - Lafayette - Away
October 15 - 5:30/6:30 - Senatobia - Home
October 17 - 5:30/6:30 - Olive Branch - Away
* - Class II - Region 1 Match
For the past 10 days (between July 10th and July 19th), the University of Alabama played host to the Region III Boys ODP Camp. ODP stands for Olympic Developmental Program - in the sport of Soccer. The first 5 days were for the players of the birth years of 1997, '98, and '99. The last 5 days were for '96 and 2000. Holdovers from the '97-'99 ages were also there for the first 3 of those last 5 days. These camps are designed to help grab the best youth players from around the country to eventually find the best players to join the professional ranks when they reach that far and eventually form a National Team for that age group to participate in international competition. It is also a common area for college coaches to come out and scout these soccer players and may offer them scholarships. The Girls ODP camp held about 50 miles SE of Tuscaloosa does the exact same thing.
Region III consists of players that come from the States of Oklahoma, Texas (which is further divided to North and South Texas), Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, host state Alabama, and of course Mississippi. There is also a Region I (New England States), II (Midwest), and IV (West + Alaska and Hawaii)
Region III ODP Camp (for both Boys and Girls) is unique as it is the only Regional Camps that pulls USSF referees from the said states and referee the games they play that helps the coaches decide on which players to bring to the National ODP (which will be held in November). The referees are not paid to do the games at this camp (but are paid travel expenses and these games do count as far as upgrading as a referee is concerned) and are there to learn from the top referees this country has (and I had the honor and privilege of being looked at and assessed for the last 5 days by Chris Penso - 1 of just 7 FIFA Referees the United States has). All other regions pull local referees and are paid to do the games at those camps - and are typically not as well trained and are not taught at what they did incorrectly.
The players themselves are assessed in their abilities for Technique, Tactics, Fitness, Athletic ability, and their Psychological Components (i.e. attitude). Two players from Oxford did participate in this year's ODP Camp (OHS Boys Soccer players Connell Yoste and Brookes Kevin participated with their age groups) representing Mississippi.
ODP is a program that started 35+ years ago and has really progressed as the years went on. For those that may have missed it, the first step of the ODP tryouts was right here in Oxford - one of 3 this state had in terms of local tryouts. The state tryouts were held later on in the South part of the state. The Regional tryouts just happened these past two weeks.
At the Region III ODP, players learn how to play tactically. The coaches there teach them the 4-3-3 formation (4 defensive backs, 3 midfielders, and 3 forwards/strikers) and Goalkeepers are taught to communicate with the players and basically "quarterback" their team defensively. The Keepers are also taught not to punt it the moment they get their hands on the ball (but not prohibited from doing so) and to play the ball short to one of their defenders and work their way out from the back on offense. They are also taught to play the simple pass instead of forcing a pass 30 yards or so away.
The experience the players AND the referees gain from this camp is invaluable. Referees within this region get better from the older and much more experienced referees who are teaching them what they are doing wrong so that they are better when they go back to their own state. The players can take their experience back and teach their teammates about what they learned over at ODP and somewhat implement their experiences back to their team - I do hope Yoste and Kevin do that with the OHS Soccer Team and are successful in doing so.
I do hope more Oxford players (next year, it will be people born from 1997-2001) participate in ODP tryouts and I get to see more of the Chargers at Tuscaloosa next year. I'm not leaving the Lady Chargers out, I hope I get to hear that several Lady Chargers get to Montevallo, AL for their ODP because they are being taught nearly the exact same thing - and there is always talent in Oxford.
I've been through ODP Camps for 15 days over the past two years. I have seen great soccer and I know from those camps I have improved as a referee. I've seen a lot of VERY good players in those 15 days - several have even faced the Mexican team that always comes for games. The referees and players all have a good time and make some new friends along the way.
Pittman Phillips celebrates a big putout vs Starkville.
Here is Brooks Krouse's partner in crime - on the school bus to baseball games anyway.
Pittman Phillips has taken on many different roles in the past year - which he saw himself transition from Second Base to Shortstop in the middle of the season, put on 20+ pounds of muscle in the offseason in the weight room, and improved on the mound - has put himself in at #5 on Oxford's Dandy Dozen. While he still has fun off the field, he has certainly matured on the field in the big games that matter.
Phillips without hardly much question is the best defensive starting player Oxford is returning next season. He has become a solid player at Shortstop when Coach Chris Baughman seemingly could not find anybody to take the position early in the year and not make several mistakes during the game. On the mound, outside of Jason Barber exploding on the scene, he had to be the most improved pitcher of anyone on the staff from the 2012 year to this past season.
Phillips led the team in ERA with a flat 1.00 last season - that includes any pitcher Oxford had last season that pitched at all. His brightest moment on the mound last season was on the road against Saltillo where starter Steven Whitfield had trouble with his command and was pulled in the second inning in favor of Phillips. He delivered putting up 5 straight 0's on the scoreboard and allowed Oxford's offense to come back to win that game. It was his longest outing in his high school career having to go 5.2 innings to win that game.
At Shortstop, Phillips did make the occasional error while adjusting to the position having to throw a farther distance than he was used to throwing having played solely at Second Base prior to the move. Once he was used to the position, he hardly made an error - when he throws it to first base.
(There's an inside joke related to that)
While Phillips made the lineup because of his defensive presence he brings - his bat still needs to be worked on. Phillips was the only player on the team that regularly bats to finish below .200 on the year at the plate. The one pro he has at the plate is being able to lay down the sacrifice bunt - he led the team in that department with 4 such takes.
If Oxford is going to be successful next baseball season, his defense and pitching is going to play a key role - it is not every year you can find a reliable shortstop and a guy that can come in from the pen if needed all in one person.
Brooks Krouse (9) attempting to score in Game 3 vs. Starkville
Brooks Krouse can quit his nagging now, he made the list.
His hard work in the weight room and on the field allowed him to be in the starting lineup a couple games into last Baseball Season and allowed him to be in this year's Dandy Dozen at #6.
Krouse made his way all the way to routinely batting 2nd in the lineup after being left off entirely at the start of the year that included Michael Bianco and William Elliott being off the lineup due to Basketball and an injury respectively.
Among all that regularly batted last season, Krouse was second the team in Contact % - which is calculated from if Krouse made contact with the ball at any point during the at bat divided by the number of plate appearances - at .850 (85%). He led the team (along with Hunter Roth) in putting the ball in play, doing so 89 times, but did so in 8 fewer plate appearances than Roth.
Putting the ball in play makes the defense field the ball to get him out - usually it happens, but sometimes it doesn't. Krouse led the team in reaching base because of a defensive error by the other team, because he puts the ball in play and makes the defense put him out on the base paths instead of the pitcher at the plate. Krouse was also second on the team in sacrifice bunts - which is necessary for a two-hole hitter to do when the leadoff hitter gets on base so that the 3-hole and 4-hole hitters can score him with a base hit.
All this is because he likes to swing the bat - which has its disadvantages. He was dead last on the team in walks issued (with just 4 in the whole season). He was pegged 11 times to reach first base which was third on the team, an amazing number given that Krouse saw 20 less pitches throughout the season than Alabama signee William Elliott who missed a dozen games this past season due to the previously mentioned injury and a facial injury he suffered during the year. Krouse only missed two games (early in the year due to the coach's decision to not play him).
This past year he played Left Field the majority of the time and played Second Base when the lineup allowed it. With two outfielders leaving due to graduation, he will return with the most experience in the outfield.
If Krouse continues to do the hard work in the offseason in the weight room and on the field - like this past summer in the games I saw, he went 7-for-14 - he will be much more effective come February.
How Did the Boys Soccer Program Go From on Top of the State to a Crazy Mess Leaving People in the Dark?
I wish I could actually answer that question myself.
But I believe I can provide some insight.
I've already pointed out I was out of town the last time I wrote on the matter when the resign/firing of Jamie Perkins took place. (It is officially a "resign" from the position but it takes more of a "firing" perspective).
Over the past month, I have seen tweets from the soccer player's accounts, and most of them just want to get started with summer practice.
The one problem: Summer is within a month from ending. Of that month, the High School Sports "Dead Week" is next week. Most of the other area soccer teams are done with their scrimmage games against other high schools. The defending 5A State Champions are already finding themselves behind the 8-ball - and they all know it, and they know it will be another two weeks until they can get anything started.
Now, I have received word that a new Boys Soccer Coach has been found. The problem is it won't be publicly announced until July 22nd, when the Oxford School Board meets again to approve of the change. The 22nd would occur after the dead week period so it is likely the Boys soccer team will hardly have done any practice (that is IF there is practice) by the end of the summer break. The Boys Soccer Chargers are tired of waiting (let alone waiting to hear WHY Perkins was fired/had resigned) while the Girls Team can have a full summer with their coach of practices, workouts and games.
Now while "clinics" have been organized for the remaining soccer players from last year's team, this is nothing like the practice and games other schools got. It is a crime to what this team accomplished last year.
When the resign/firing was made, an e-mail sent days later to the parents of the OHS Boys Soccer team from the Oxford Booster Club president:
There are a few red flags with this e-mail.
First: WHAT FACTS is Mayo talking about? Never once did Mayo describe the so-called "facts" that led to the termination process that Superintendent Brian Harvey came to. Harvey is not allowed by law to explain those facts because the resign reason was a "personal matter". If "facts" are going to be brought up, actually explain those "facts." Because all you are bringing up is questions and controversy than what this email is intended to do - give answers and reassurance. I'm sure they are not "R" or "NC-17" rated facts that will give us a heart attack and die from them.
Second: WHY was it the right decision? WHAT reasons were there? Neither of those were answered in this email either. I am SO sure that we should just take his word for it. (Note the heavy degree of sarcasm used here) People that are involved in Boys Soccer (especially the athletes) deserve to know why, either tell the team EXACTLY what happened in private or give us the facts publicly this email eluded to but did not explain.
The underlined part almost screams controversy, not in how Perkins was terminated, but this explains how sports politics where involved and led a domino effect in causing the coaching change.
During the first tryouts, seven unbiased independent coaches were involved in selecting the OHS Boys Soccer team, exactly a format used by the Cheerleading Team in selecting the OHS Cheerleaders year in and year out where they must do a routine in tryouts in front of several unbiased independent judges. The opponents of this coaching change move rightfully have their own questions to this: HOW was the first tryout "unfair" to everyone? What questions exist in the integrity of the tryouts? Last I checked this wasn't a popularity contest, that is not how Oxford won that State Championship everyone forgot about 5 months ago. The bolded sentence was not necessary to type - because it just asks many more questions as to how a tryout process was "tainted". None of these questions have been answered oh by the way.
Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Oxford win a State Championship under Perkins' direction 5 months ago using kids he chose to run a style of soccer he used that was successful in winning that Championship?
And this coaching change could not come at a worse time besides the oblivious reason of coming off a State Championship. It came in the summer and having a parent at another school who is a coach to go off of on a daily basis, contracts for teachers have just been signed and are currently running. There are not that many options to find a coach to take this job, let alone come to a school that has seen three coaching changes in the last six years, many times for reasons that were never explained. It also left the Girls Track program in the dust because of this entire mess and had to search for other options, which Oxford was fortunate to find current Cross Country coach Chris Patton to take over the job just a few days ago.
It looks like this entire email is a cover up.
I have mentioned that the Mississippi Flood D1 Soccer program and the Oxford Park Commission have seemingly played a role as well and this tryout issue may not have been the only factor. The following was part of a (long) comment made on the "We're with Coach Perkins" Facebook page.
We've even spoken to city officials that have done their research and acknowledge that this whole predicament was started from personal (note: not personnel) issues involving a competitive soccer program. It's ludicrous to think this is somehow involved...yet all signs point to it. Why did we choose the Flood? We took a chance. We loved when our daughter practiced with your daughters' U10 OPC team. The two coaches worked well together and the girls looked like they were having fun. Our daughter was intimidated by she progressed in only a couple of months. However, I knew she would never catch up and be able to play for that team. While they were OPC backed I knew they were run by two parents with a desire to win and the ability to reach out to those girls. So when we tried out for the OPC U8 team we were worried about the absence of what I just stated above. The parental advisory team I was on had systematically unsold me on the selected Coach [OHS Girls Soccer Coach Laura] (Flynt's) abilities. OPC had stressed to me the commitment level of both the coach and the team manager yet the manager was overheard saying they weren't in fact committed. So that night, while our daughter was trying out, we decided to take a chance. And to further my point and provide the justification for our decision, we watched the OPC U8 program travel to a tournament...with no support other than the coach for the younger group. No Flynt, no team manager, no youth soccer director, no OPC director...I felt bad for those girls and their parents. They were "abandoned". They have bad mouthed and spread rumors about a group of people I call my circle of trust. And to have someone lose their ability to provide for their family because they choose one program over another is...well...it's ludicrous.
The last sentence there is a basic explanation of what I believed happened. Now, do I know for sure? - no, that is why I'm typing this blog post out in the first place - TO GET ANSWERS. Way too much speculation is not what this program (or this school) needs - and its not helping that I'm writing out this post. The people that need to know why they are being left in the dark.
In the past spring soccer season, Perkins had one of his daughters playing in the OPC Recreation league at the U8 level. She was easily the best player on her team and won both games that I happened to be refereeing for those nights.
This is JUST SPECULATING and procrastinating, but I believe he wanted to have his daughter play at the D1 level and in addition asked his players that the club was open to his team for the upcoming tryouts to participate in D1 competition - but if they wanted to play D2 or D3 tournaments that is fine but wanted them to play D1 so that his team could be better ready to defend their title by playing easily much better competition.
For those that do not know, D3 (Division 3) is a recreational league and is basically for soccer players that are not that skilled in the sport. D2 is for skilled players - also known as the "Challenge" league and for those seeking for better competition. OPC offers teams in both D2 and D3.
D1 is the "Select" league - basically for highly-skilled players who are like travel baseball teams - travel around to other rather close areas (Memphis, Tupelo, Clinton, both Jacksons in Tennessee and Mississippi, etc...) and play tournaments to not only hone in their skills, but to also win many tournaments. This is what the Flood provides but not OPC, but the Flood does not do D2 or D3 either.
The parents here that are actively involved with OPC AND the OHS Boys Soccer program did not like that Perkins is supporting his players to play with the Flood program and not with OPC. If you point back to the first sentence of the last quote, it was noted that Oxford City officials have acknowledged that a personal problem was what started all this.
Being a soccer referee and having done Tournaments all over the place, the two coaches mentioned in the last quote used to coach for an OPC D2 Challenge team. It was about 9 months since doing their last friendly match until I saw those two coaches at the President's Cup (the Ultimate D2 Mississippi tournament) and at the time, I had no idea who the Flood were. I was told by those coaches after doing one of their games at the Presidents' Cup that they were basically fired from coaching with OPC because the two coaches were doing stuff they did not like and thus started up the Flood program.
So, finally in putting all the pieces together - my logical breakdown is that the two coaches that run Flood were fired from OPC from coaching, the two of them open up the Flood D1 program, Perkins sees that he likes that program so he asks his kids to participate in it. Upon OPC learning this, they tried to get Perkins to stop doing this last summer because of obvious reasons to OPC and that they were afraid of losing kids to the Flood. Perkins did the same thing this summer and in addition may have taken kids onto his team from tryouts (thus the "tainting, unfair" part described here) because they were involved already with the very same D1 program and not OPC - basically getting caught in a lie and was told to quit coaching after that.
I'm not saying that is it because like most everyone else we have not been told directly exactly why, but I am very sure that is close to 100% accurate. I like many other people involved have been left in the dark.
Going back to some of the Twitter Feeds, I've noticed a few red flags that help prove my point:
No, those are not two random tweets - go back to their Timelines and those two dates are the time between the tweets from both accounts. Coincidence? Maybe. But to not tweet during Basketball and Soccer seasons from two sports accounts is suspicious and made it appear tweets were deleted between the first one and the last one.
And if that was not enough, the controller of this account had the state of mind to post THIS tweet out - while it is appreciated for the OHS Tennis team, where exactly was this support for the soccer program (either for that matter) - a program that OPC has the most participants in? I should point out that the two soccer Twitter accounts OPC runs now did not exist at the time Oxford won the State Championship.
Here is one final quote comment also from the Facebook page from Wain Reily:
I just retired at age 65. 43 years of teaching college and high school. 25 of those years I coached. I got out of coaching when my son graduated and started playing college ball. After coaching I officiated for 15 years. I had more time to go see my son play.
Whoever the new coach is, good luck - you will need it. You it appears will be a puppet in this because you cannot even control what soccer programs you like. Almost like the other three coaches before you. I feel sorry for this soccer program, commonly called "Thug U" among the students and several fans, because I nearly broke into tears after having seen us win a State Championship in Soccer after having seen us over and over and over have very good teams get beaten...and being beaten by one team repeatedly in Pearl.
*Editor's Note: All quotes were edited for grammar, spelling, and proper english purposes only. Comments have been closed off for this article in protection of users using the "Anonymous" name to shield the identity of user attacking comments. If you wish to leave a comment, go to the right sidebar comment box where a name and email is REQUIRED to comment on anything.
Cody Mills (right) attempting a Field Goal vs. Provine
I did the best player for football on defense; I did the best player for football on offense.
Now it is time for the best player on special teams.
This will be Cody Mills' FIFTH year on the Varsity football team. He was first on the football team as an 8th grader since there is no kicking allowed in 7th, 8th and 9th grade games - so instead of waiting until at least his 9th grade year, there was no point in that so he was upped to the Varsity team.
He has been the starting punter since midway through his Sophomore year, taking over for William Elliott when he quit to prevent further football injuries threatening his baseball career. (Suffered a concussion once upon a time) Mills also took over the Kickoff duties.
Some of these stats are great just for high school. Of the 56 KO's last season, 27 went into the end zone for Touchbacks, roughly 50% of the time. He had at least one touchback in every game last season. He averaged close to 40 yards a punt last season - if he wants to get any shot at a scholarship, that needs to go up just a few more yards. About 45 yards has been the normal rate in college punters but no doubt he can go somewhere to help a team out and at least get into a Junior College and improve there.
If there is an area to improve on, it is kicking Field Goals. He was just 12 for 21 last season including missing twice in the Crosstown Classic with a long of 46 yards. His distance is not the problem, his accuracy is. 3 points in high school football is a rare thing, because many schools do not have the kicker that can kick a distance of longer than 30 yards or even kick extra points after touchdowns. When most schools without kickers get to 4th down, they usually go for it. More often than not, they do not convert which proves the consolation 3 points worth it. If Mills is more accurate, coach Johnny Hill can be more confident if they stall in the red zone to put 3 on the board with his foot. Plus if a team is trying to score before half, 3 points usually is a pretty good confidence boost going into the locker room.
They call Mills "Boot" for a reason - I have a feeling that he will boot it even farther this year.
Where do the Baseball & Soccer people go now?
Well, I was at the 1st Oxford Board of Alderman Meeting with the two newly elected Alderman, filming the meeting of course for you guys to watch on local TV when it gets put on a DVD and then played.
One of the things of a laundry list of things on the Agenda was approval of a bid in order to start construction of the expansion of the John Leslie Courts next to the Activity Center (The "Hank Aaron Complex"). The budget for that was at $1.5 Million and put out two things to bid on: One for a expansion to 17 courts and an Alternate of an expansion to 20 courts.
When finding out the low bid for 17 courts was at $1.3 Million(ish), they looked at the alternate (the one for 20 courts) and found a low bid of $1.589+ Million. While short-term economic impact would hurt a bit (being nearly $190K over budget - $100K has already been spent on it), long-term was much better off due to revenue generated from hosting bigger Tennis Tournaments. If the title of this blog did not give it away, they chose the latter to approve. It was noted that grants can be awarded to OPC if inserted of course to help offset the $190K over budget on the construction.
Now with all that said, there is obvious conflicts of interest - for the expansion to be completed, the existing three baseball fields that once held baseball games once upon a time will be torn down. They currently hold practices for baseball and soccer teams unable to use the fields at FNC Park to practice on - due to that only OPC Teams are allowed to practice on those fields.
The other fields that can hold baseball and soccer practices by other teams unable to use the fields at FNC Park or if the fields are full for practices are at Avent Park (1 baseball Field that has had the fences torn down), the Softball/Baseball Field behind Stone Park, Price Hill Park (near Malco Studios - 1 grass-covered Baseball/Softball Field alongside an outdoor basketball court), and the old Soccer/Baseball Complex which is now down to just two old Softball/Baseball fields after the new Animal Shelter that has taken over the old parking lot and another building still under construction taking over the remaining old soccer fields. The is also the 3 recreational utility fields on the Ole Miss campus owned by the university just east of Wal-Mart that are open to the public when they are not used by Ole Miss.
This has been a long-standing complaint by the citizens of Oxford and the students of Ole Miss - there is no where to go to practice or just play a friendly game of baseball or soccer. With the construction of the new building at the old soccer fields, there are no longer any solo-soccer fields that are open to the public. Around this time last year, I had written about how there are not any basketball courts outside of the two in the activity center that are open to the public. It has also gotten harder for the tackle football program Oxford has going to find spots to practice besides the OHS practice field.
There are solutions to this problem: Pat Lamar Park was once a 9-hole golf course is now just a bunch of grass with a few trees that is now simply a walking trail and used to host a few Oxford Cross Country Meets. Why not build a few open public fields right there? It shouldn't cost too much and the upkeep is already paid for (i.e. cutting the grass) just put two goals out there. There is that open area where the Skate-park is near University Ave., just turn it into a practice field - it is a convenient spot.
Now, another solution could be the new sportsplex 8 miles south of Oxford on Highway 7, but that is a privately owned by the Mississippi Flood D1 soccer organization. It is not known if any team can sign up for fields freely by the public.
In regards to the Tennis courts, Oxford has 12 public Tennis courts today (4 at Avent, 8 near the Activity Center). In addition to those, there are another 4 private Tennis courts (in neighborhoods, all of which inhabit Ole Miss students), and Ole Miss owns 26 - 12 are for exclusive Ole Miss use (9 outdoor, 3 indoor) unless an exception is allowed - like when Oxford and Starkville played in the Gillom Sports Center for North Half this past year due to a threat of rain and no other indoor tennis courts within miles of Oxford, 6 are between the Tad Pad and the Turner Center, and another 8 behind right field at Swayze - to my knowledge, those last 14 are open to the public but owned by Ole Miss.
The key is Oxford owns 12 in two different areas of town - 8 near the Activity Center, 4 at Avent Park. If you ever have been by one of those, more often than not people are using the courts whatever it'd be the Ole Miss students or the citizens and are usually full when school is in full force. Also, 12 courts is too small and has prevented Oxford from hosting Tennis Tournaments (especially when those 12 are not in one spot). Oxford AND Lafayette High School has also used those courts for practice - preventing the public to enjoy some Tennis on the public courts. The expansion to double the amount of courts Oxford has is a need Oxford has needed for a while.
The courts are being paid for collectively by the County, the City, and the University but will be run by the City. FNC Inc. has purchased naming rights but will not rename the courts which is in honor of a former mayor of Oxford. Other sponsorships can be made available by purchasing items like benches.
The pros to this expansion: It will be economical - as with FNC Park with Baseball and Soccer, Tournaments on a large scale can now be held in Oxford and the expansion will pay for itself in little time once construction is completed. Tennis players will not have to wait for a Tennis court when the courts are full - a bunch of people who work in the day or have class during the day use Tennis as their extracurricular activity.
The cons: As I mentioned before, this will take up three PUBLIC baseball fields that are used for more than such. Oxford High Baseball has used those fields for its baseball summer camp for the kids. Flag Football has used those fields for scrimmages when the fields at FNC Park are full - same for soccer and for those teams that are unable to use FNC Park to practice. In a town that houses 40,000+ during the school year, there are not many places for the students or the citizens to just go over to a public field and just play ball - where it would be kickball, softball, baseball, soccer, or for any school to come over and just have a field day.
While it is great for the Tennis program that this is happening, this is terrible for just public fields in general - there are not that many remaining in Oxford. The once was Soccer/Softball/Baseball complex is gone of soccer fields, the City was at one point deciding what to do with the Baseball field at Avent Park suggesting a lake should go there, there won't be any fields LEFT besides the private fields.
Oxford needs a couple of flat grass fields suitable for practice for any team in any sport for the public that ranges from soccer to ultimate frisbee to kickball. This will just make the community complain some more for those that cannot find a spot to simply play or have practice for an organized team. It is the reason why areas like the Mississippi Flood is opening a private soccer complex, it is the reason why people like Taylor McGraw petitioned for a couple of outdoor basketball courts. Oxford's nearest park with any kind of room for those kinds of spots is 20 miles north of Oxford at Wall Doxey State Park.
Good job for the Tennis people to speak up - the rest of Oxford: It's your turn.
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