South Panola Championships

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 11, 2007

Championships part of bigger picture at SP

It takes commitment.

When the South Panola School District decided in 2006 to build a couple of ball fields for “diamond sports,” the district showed its commitment to improving those sports programs.

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When the district then hired a young but well-known coach with championship experience, Ashleigh Hicks, that commitment took several steps forward. Now it offered the fastpitch program an opportunity to excel beyond everyone’s expectations — and to excel earlier than anyone thought possible.

Success breeds success, but it also involves a commitment that success is the ultimate goal. Talent is also an ingredient in success. But young talent must be channeled in the right direction.

Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said after last Saturday’s successful championship game, “Willis Wright taught me the value of hiring a good coach,” referring to the legendary football coach who began South Panola’s dynasty in the early 1990s.

“Ashleigh Hicks,” Musgrove added, “is a good coach.”

A commitment to success was also displayed this week when South Panola High held a breakfast for its “Club 21” students, a growing group of young people who have scored at least a 21 on the all-important ACT.

“We place high standards – very high standards – on academics here,” assistant principal Ruth Ball told the parents who had gathered for the event.

In recent years, the South Panola School District has shown a renewed commitment to both sports and academics. Its signals of success, such as the Class 5A softball title and Club 21, have not happened simply by happenstance or time but through strong leadership, clear vision and concrete goals.

Therefore, people who are paying attention to South Panola realize the Club 21 breakfast was no more about orange juice and fruit than the Lady Tigers’ state title is about bunting.

Success breeds success, whether on a pitcher’s mound or in an AP class.

We can’t help but believe that students who are surrounded with success will desire to be more successful themselves, moving away from the “soft bigotry of low expectations” to achieve goals bigger than themselves.