STARKVILLE -- Elena Lovato didn't realize the impact five words could make.
Early one morning after reading a devotional, Lovato decided to share her positive vibes with the world, so she typed 27 characters and hit send.
The Mississippi State assistant women's basketball coach didn't give her message -- "Blessed to see another day" -- a second thought. It wasn't targeted at anyone. It wasn't designed to attract a following. Lovato merely wanted to get her day off to a good start, and she believed sharing her excitement helped her have a better outlook.
Togetherness is important to Don Whitman.
STEENS -- Robin Cochran is ready to get the word out.
A new set of warriors took to the fields today to find themselves.
Between the shrill of whistles and the bellicose language spouted by coaches, Mississippi Association of Independent Schools member schools officially started football practice for the 2015 season.
MACON -- Sammy Lindsey believes it can happen.
One year after falling short of its goal to play for a state title, Lindsey feels the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team is positioned for a run at a championship.
A strong returning class adds to Lindsey's optimism. The fact that the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools added a fourth classification -- AAAA -- in the offseason in an effort to create a more level playing field based on school enrollment numbers has created a path Lindsey feels his team will be able to navigate, even though it has only one senior, Courtney Gaylord.
A mother, a yeller, and a jester
When you're looking for your seniors to play complementary roles, it's always nice for those players to have a variety of strengths that can help the team.
Gary Harris has watched seniors Kaitlyn Oswalt, Brooklyn Waldrep, and Macy Walters for the past three years, so he knows how each player has matured as a player for the Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball team. This season, he hopes those players will help set the tone for a program that has advanced to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA State tournament two of the past three years.
STARKVILLE -- Don't mess with Shelby Jordan.
Despite the drops of water falling from her face, the intensity in Jordan's eyes speaks to the camera and keeps you glued to the screen for nine seconds.
No, she isn't auditioning for the next big horror movie. Instead, Jordan's acting debut in the HailState Productions video is meant to convey a message that a storm -- the Mississippi State women's soccer team -- is coming in August 2015.
Sharp-shooters aren't made by using conventional methods.
STARKVILLE -- Seven months ago, Teaira McCowan knew she was going to play basketball in college.
STARKVILLE -- Maroon and white. Maroon and gray. Maroon and black.
There are so many color combinations that Jazmine Spears can wear a different piece of Mississippi State women's basketball apparel almost every day.
After waiting two years to get to Starkville, Spears plans to make the most of her next two years and mix and match tops and bottoms to create a lasting impression.
It's easy to detect the passion in Taylor Chisolm's voice.
A few years ago, soccer would have been the topic of conversation. After all, Chisolm set a school record for goals in a season as a senior at Caledonia High School in 2009. His exploits helped lead the Confederates to a school-best 14-5 record and the Class 4A North Half title game.
Since then, though, Chisolm has found a new hobby, or passion, to occupy some of his spare time. Don't think for one second that just because you might not have heard of the sport -- disc golf -- Chisolm isn't as passionate about it as he was about soccer.
In fact, if you know Chisolm, he might be even more consumed with disc golf than he ever was about soccer.
Aaron Gordon is always looking for ways to grow the sport of soccer.
When you're trying to build a successful program in one of the nation's most competitive conference, it's natural to try to find a way to use the momentum from another top team to help you generate enthusiasm.
Gordon and the Mississippi State women's soccer program will try to do that at 6 tonight when they play host to a Women's World Cup watch party for the match between the United States and Japan at Buffalo Wild Wings on Highway 12 in Starkville.
Allison Woolbright can recall being in gymnasiums as far back as her memory allows.
If Woolbright had to guess, that's probably where she developed her love for sports and her competitive spirit.
It also helped that Woolbright's mother, Rachel Prater Meacham, worked as a volleyball coach at Millport (Ala.) and South Lamar high schools, which is where Allison honed her skills as a volleyball and as a basketball player.
STARKVILLE -- Jazzmun "Jazz" Holmes isn't going to let her relative inexperience hold her back.
Going up against speedsters like Morgan William and Roshunda Johnson every day in practice should be just the test Holmes needs to make a quick adjustment to the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
STARKVILLE -- Zion Campbell usually is one of the tallest players on the basketball court.
At 6-foot-3, Campbell has grown accustomed to having her way in the post, whether it has been at Riverdale Baptist School (Md.), St. John's College (Washington, D.C.) High School, or Hilton Head (S.C.) High.
Part of "owning" the paint involves knowing how to throw your weight around and to bang bodies with opponents to get position for rebounds or to set yourself up close to the basket for an easy shot.
It has taken only a few weeks for Campbell to realize she likely will have to try to new way to utilize her size to help her make an impact on the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
WEST POINT -- The stories have blended into each other throughout the years.
"You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful."
-- a tweet by Mississippi State women's basketball transfer Roshunda Johnson on May 27
STARKVILLE -- Roshunda Johnson knows the power of social media.
That knowledge was part of her motivation for the tweet that served as her unofficial welcome announcement to the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
Robert Woodard II has seen a lot of sights and learned plenty of valuable lessons in the past month.
Between traveling to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, to represent the United States in the FIBA Americas Championship, many of those lessons involved basketball.
Each time, the Columbus High School rising sophomore passed his test and played an integral role in helping the USA Basketball Men's U16 National Team win its fourth championship in the biennial tournament that was launched in 2009.
Team USA's 77-60 victory against Canada on Sunday night presented Woodard II and his teammates with a new challenge: Getting their gold medals through airport security.
Jeffrey Bryan Dean was ready for a new challenge two years ago.
Dean's Letcher County Central (Ky.) High School baseball team was coming off a trip to the state tournament and a 29-win season. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which doesn't have size classifications to separate smaller schools from larger ones, it was natural for Dean's success with the Cougars attracted attention and earned him interest from other schools that were looking for a baseball coach.
Don Rowe always knew Leatrice "Lee" Holliday had the "gift for gab."
Whether it was in a 30-second timeout during a basketball game or in a break in the football or baseball action at Aberdeen High School, Rowe witnessed Holliday's ability to take control of a situation with his knack for selling himself.
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