“Bear with me.”
Tyrone Shorter hasn’t had to use those words too often in his coaching career.
The veteran coach commands a sideline and burns intensity, whether it is in practice or on a game field. Shorter demands excellence, so he is a stickler for details and discipline and doing things the right way.
Wednesday was no different. As the new football coach at Louisville High School, Shorter very easily could have handed off the responsibility of organizing a signing day for 10 of his seniors at Noxubee County High to someone else. It would have been understandable considering some probably don’t know why a man who has spent his last 20 years at Noxubee County High would leave to take over the football program at one of the school’s biggest rivals.
But Shorter made the right decision to play a key role in the ceremony that celebrated the signings of Kyziah Pruitt, Maliek Stallings, Kaiyus Lewis, Ja’Quaris Jamison, Rodney Williams, Verdell Clemons, Jaelen Harmon, Ja’Qualyn Smith, Ervin Gray, Chaokang Brooks, and former Tiger Keymarcus Jackson. After leading the Tigers to four state titles in his nine seasons as head coach, there is no one else who could have orchestrated a first-class event like the one that transpired in the school’s library.
“It was difficult,” Shorter said. “I didn’t want to miss anybody. I didn’t want to leave anybody out because when you’re running a program, you have to have a lot of people on your team. That is what it’s all about.
“I tell people it’s not about me, it’s about this program. It’s about developing relationships and getting so many people who want to be a part of your program.”
Shorter made sure to thank all of his coaches, the parents, the teachers, the cafeteria workers, the custodians, the bus drivers, and everybody who played a role in his 20 years as a coach at the school. He did it all in a speech that last 10 minutes, 30 seconds. He didn’t have to do it. He didn’t have to take care to thank members of the media for their coverage through the years. But Shorter is real. He loves his kids. He loves Noxubee County High. In fact, he said he always will be a Tiger, even if he already has started leading a group of Wildcats.
In time, Shorter will have plenty of ceremonies at Louisville High like the ones he led at Noxubee County High. The people in Louisville already know it, but they’re getting a first-class man who is going to help keep their program on a short list of the state’s best.
On Wednesday, all of the love was for Noxubee County. Here even were a few tears, as Pruitt, who is going to attend Mississippi State, showed emotion when he thanked Shorter for helping him become the man he is today.
That emotion spilled over to Shorter’s speech. The last few minutes were hard because there were so many memories going through his mind. He recalled joining a downtrodden program and joining M.C. Miller and working hard to transform it into one of the state’s best.
“I said to myself I wasn’t going to tear up, but Kyziah started it, so it kind of went from there,” Shorter said. “But everything I said came from the heart. I just wrote it down and I made sure I didn’t miss anybody.”
Shorter saved his wife, Candy, for last and credited her for being with him every step in the last 20 years. He thanked her for believing in him and for all of her help in building a program.
Shorter won’t have to build a program at Louisville. He inherits a team that won the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State title in 2018, so the expectations for 2019 will be the same as what he would have faced at Noxubee County. It’s uncertain who will take Shorter’s place at Noxubee County, but it will be just as tough to find someone to succeed him as it was for him to write his final speech.
“I wish everybody the best in what they do. They make their own decisions,” Pruitt said. “Louisville being a rival of ours, I kind of looked at it funny, but I understood where he was coming from. Not saying that Noxubee County football or Noxubee County as a whole is on the downfall, but there is a lot of speculation about what is going on. You have to have some things finished that you know are going to happen because as of now we don’t know if we are going to be able to go into the playoffs, so as a man who wanted to further his career I understand where he was coming from. I wish him the best.”
Adam Minichino is the former sports editor of The Dispatch. You can reach him by email at
aminichino @cdispatch.com. Follow him on
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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