OUR VIEW: Meridian girls basketball success a lesson in effective leadership

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star file photo

Meridian High School girls basketball coach Deneshia Faulkner developed a postive attitude with her players. 

There is a lesson in teamwork, believing in oneself and success to be found on 24th Avenue in Meridian.

Leave City Hall and drive north on 24th Avenue to Wildcat Drive and enter a dimly lit gym at Meridian High School and you will find one of the city’s brightest success stories.

The Meridian girls basketball team is off to a 10-0 start.

There is a can-do attitude established by head coach Deneshia Faulkner that we think could be emulated at City Hall, where innuendo and personal attacks commonly darken its space.

The success at Meridian High School followed Faulkner’s arrival in 2017 and the team was coming off a 7-22 season. Faulkner quickly corrected the attitude and direction by educating the players that they needed to care about themselves, as Sports Editor Drew Kerekes reported Thursday in The Meridian Star.

After a 13-14 season in Faulkner's first year, the Lady Wildcats won 22 games and the MHSAA Region 5-6A championship in 2018-2019.

“…There was a point in time when (Faulkner) first came where we were used to losing and not being recognized, and you could tell by our work ethic that we didn’t care about winning or losing. Now that’s changed because we’re used to winning a lot, and our work ethic has to be 100 times harder than it was the last time,” senior guard Ti’Ian Boler told Kerekes.

Having found success, both coaches and players agree they have to stick to the discipline and focus that earned it.

Back at City Hall, on Tuesday, Ward 5 Councilman Weston Lindemann made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the salary of the Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister, based on concerns about an audio recording that was posted and shared online last weekend.

The recording appeared to be of McAlister threatening violence against Lindemann and discussing photos related to the death of Christian Andreacchio. Also on Tuesday, the parents of Andreacchio filed a lawsuit in Lauderdale County Circuit Court accusing McAlister of improperly sharing their son’s autopsy photos.

“I barely even knew how to respond today because it’s just so unfathomable anybody would act that way in a position of leadership,” Lindemann said to reporter Erin Kelly on Tuesday.

Lindemann and McAlister have argued frequently and Lindemann also tried to eliminate McAlister’s salary in April before Mayor Percy Bland vetoed the Council’s 3-2 vote in favor of the pay cut.

The councilman has filled a useful role in raising serious questions about city spending and administration actions, but he also has had difficulty limiting his focus.

Lack of communication between the administration and council and last minute agenda changes have helped incubate that mistrust.

Mayor Bland, meanwhile, said Tuesday he hadn’t listened to the leaked recording in full.

If he wishes to lead the city, he needs to do that if he hasn't already.

Then he needs to determine how he can sharpen focus from his team’s lineup. If the recording is indeed McAlister and is accurate, discipline is in order. Locker-room type threats and inappropriately sharing sensitive information are not acceptable. Instill discipline in the current team or change the lineup.

Waiting on the sidelines are city residents and businesses – and prospective city businesses – that would like to believe in Meridian and its leaders.

Good leadership can make that happen, as evident with the Meridian girls basketball team.

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