When Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School did not have an athletic banquet and give out awards for the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens stepped up with a grassroots effort.
Thomas Williams Sr., who graduated from then-Coahoma Agricultural High School and has been a Coahoma Early College High School assistant basketball coach, led the effort with others to raise $1,400 to pay for awards for each athlete.
The awards ceremony presentation was held at Nosef Park Saturday afternoon.
At the ceremony, 2005 Clarksdale High School graduate announced he was donating $1,000 to help the Red Panthers basketball team pay for rings after winning the Class 2A state championship. It was their third championship in four seasons.
Todd, a small and power forward, is a 2005 Clarksdale High School graduate and went up against CCHS assistant coach Daryl Moore when he was a player for the Red Panthers. Daryl Moore is the younger brother of head coach Derrick Moore. Todd’s sister Cassie Todd is a 2004 CCHS graduate.
Todd also praised Derrick Moore’s efforts as the head coach of the CCHS boys and girls. The girls finished state runner-up.
“God gives everybody a heart,” Todd said. “I’ve got a good heart. Coach Moore, he did an awesome job with them this year with the boys and girls, but the boys came on top and the girls fell.
“I played against a lot of good guys, Ravern (Johnson). There were a whole lot of them. We played ball. We were young, Junior high and high school, we played with each other. The County has been a good school every year. Basketball is their school. Clarksdale High football, all day. I’m glad for them just to start off giving them their rings. With the pandemic going on, everyone is going through so much. I just wanted to do that from the bottom of my heart to give back to them.”
Derrick Moore expressed his gratitude toward Todd, Williams and everyone who had a hand in organizing the awards ceremony.
“This was truly from the bottom of their hearts,” he said. “It was something that they did. They did not have to do it, yet they did it because they are community people and they love kids.”
Derrick Moore said the $1,000 is just a start toward paying for the championship rings, but he was confident the money would be raised.
“We’ve got some good people heading it,” Derrick Moore said.
Anyone wishing to help pay for the rings may contact Andrea Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-645-7123.
Thomas Williams was pleased with the way the event turned out.
“It started off with a little rain, but it went well,” he said.
“Hopefully, it will give them a strong momentum for next year so they can have it at the end of school.”
District 5 representative of the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors Roosevelt Lee opened the event with a prayer, Clarksdale High School senior Marchellos Scott have the welcome and Clarksdale Bears youth sports coach Kelvin Stacker was the guest speaker.
Scott attended Coahoma County Junior High School and was Derrick Moore’s math student. When Derrick and Daryl Moore received letters of termination, Scott led the charge with a petition to help get them reinstated. They were recently reinstated.
“Give a round of applause to the athletes because they have put in so much work and they deserve the utmost respect,” Scott said. “And also Derrick Moore and also the other coaches, give them a round of applause as well.”
Scott thanked everyone who pitched in for the awards ceremony.
“I really can say everyone deserved this at Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School because you all have been through so much,” he said. “This is your all’s time to turn up, celebrate and just be joyful. Just enjoy each other’s company because together you all are Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School.”
Stacker founded the Clarksdale Bears in 2010 and they became a non-profit organization in 2018. He also praised Derrick Moore and his family.
“He’s a friend. He’s a great guy,” Stacker said. “I have the utmost respect for him, his father, his parents. We’re like family.”
Stacker reflected on the junior high Red Panthers being the Delta Valley Conference runner-up in football, the boys basketball state championship and the girls basketball runner-up finish.
“Sports are a big achievement in our lives,” said Stacker, adding sports provides different challenges.
“Some of us came into sports at a very young age. Some are just God’s gift.
“Some have developed, work hard on and off the field.”
Stacker said coaches, parents and guardians also deserve recognition for helping athletes.
“They participate in regular and community events as well as school,” Stacker said.
Stacker said it has been one of the toughest years for athletes with the coronavirus, but he encouraged everyone to continue working hard.
“Remember to believe in yourself and all that you do because challenges and changes will only help you find your goals that are meant to come true,” Stacker said. “Keep believing in yourself and put God first.”