Jessie Kennedy

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

West Lauderdale coach Jessie Kennedy led the Lady Knights for three years. Kennedy resigned from her position at the end of the 2019 season.

A FROWN FOR THE SHORTAGE OF FEMALE COACHES among East Mississippi High School sports teams.

During discussions about potential candidates for our Premier Preps coaches of the year last month, the realization was striking. The number of female coaches of area high school team sports could be counted on one’s hands.

That led sports writer Elton Hayes to pursue the specific number and the causes behind the shortage. The results can be found in a report this weekend in The Meridian Star. Only eight female head coaches could be identified among the 14 public schools’ three major girls sports teams – or 22 percent of the available positions.

Many of the female coaches recall only men coaching them in their playing days.

Steps are being taken to improve the situation at some schools, such as Clarkdale consciously seeking out female candidates when positions open and Meridian girls basketball coach Deneshia Faulkner creating a mentorship program.

More progress needs to be made, however, to provide leadership opportunities for women and role models for the girls they coach.

We don’t discount the dedication and leadership of many devoted men who are coaching girls. Gender shouldn’t be the lone qualification. But there are assets that can be provided by women who can share both from their experience as athletes and life issues they’ve experienced as girls and women.

CROWNS FOR D-DAY VETERAN Joe Johnson and fellow World War II veteran Bob Hammond.

Mr. Johnson, now 98 and living in Marion, spent some time with News Editor Bill Graham this week to recount his role as a U.S. Army solider in the D-Day invasion of France 75 years ago on June 6, 1944.

He was one of four brothers who grew up in Newton County and served during World War II. Brother Henry, the youngest, was killed in action in November 1944 near Nancy, France.

We can never thank Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hamond and men and women like them who made the greatest individual sacrifices for their country.

Mr. Hammond, a Marine Corps veteran, who served in the Pacific Theater including the battle of Midway, turned 100 on Friday and celebrated his life with family and friends at Aldersgate. He gets 100 candles along with his crown.

Thank you both.

A CROWN TO THE DONORS AND SPONSORS who funded repairs that will enable the opening of the Velma Young pool in July.

The city of Meridian previously planned to keep the pool closed this summer due to costly needed repairs.

The donations and change of plans are refreshing, especially with the taste of unbearable heat we’ve already experienced this spring.

A FROWN FOR THE LOSS OF LIFE on Kemper County highways this week.

Eight people died before dawn Monday on Highway 16 in a collision between a box truck and a passenger van. Another three people died Wednesday in a four-vehicle collision on Highway 45.

Our hearts go out to the victims’ families, the survivors and to the first responders who were called to the scenes of horrific violent crashes.

The causes are still being investigated, but please follow all safety precautions when you’re behind the wheel. Slow down, keep your eyes on the road, make sure all your passengers are wearing seat belts and beware that other drivers may not be as conscientious as you.

A CROWN FOR STATE GAMES OF MISSISSIPPI organizers, athletes and supporters. The event got off to a great start, with opening ceremonies last Friday.

We welcome our guests to the area and hope you return now that you’ve seen Meridian and Lauderdale County’s many positive qualities.

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