‘I want JDC to become a brand’

Published 11:02 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

Over 70 Jefferson Davis County business owners and community leaders gathered Thursday for  a meet and greet at the Academic Success Building in Carson.

Jefferson Davis County High School Athletic Director Lance Mancuso organized the meeting with the help of the JDC Chamber Parnership so community members and business owners would have a chance to meet the new coaches and ask questions about the upcoming school year.

A welcome was given by Superintendent Will Russell followed by a prayer given by Rev. Jessie Holloway.

“I did not take this job to satisfy or appease anyone, or for popularity. I am blessed and honored to serve as superintendent. I made a promise to improve student achievement in the Jefferson Davis County school district and that is still my promise. One of the hardest things in this position is to make decisions.

“Every decision has to be made in the best interest of the children. I respect the history and tradition in this process. There is no disrespect at all. But we are dealing with a totally different day, generation and budget,”  said Russell.

“This is part of the process we are having here today, so you can meet some of those that will be on the ground in the trenches as we come together. I am going to officially announce on June 22 at 11:48, that the Jefferson Davis County School District is now one.

“We are going to press forward. I pray that you will support the effort. And I pray that we can agree to disagree but at the end of the day lets make decisions that will be in the best interest of our children.”

District 1 school board member Bobby Wilson spoke on behalf of the board.

“We ask that you partner with the school board and the community to help us grow and help us make the right decisions moving forward in everything that we do. Everything we do involves everyone of you and every one of the people that live here. We thank you and ask for your support,” said Wilson.

Mancuso introduced the coaches on staff for the new Jefferson Davis County High School.

Coleman Price will be the head track coach and Glenn Gray will deal primarily with the middle school athletics at and assist with varsity football. Gray will also be busy with the day to day operations at the middle school.

Quentin Sullivan will have middle school roles as well as assistant varsity football and assistant varsity basketball.

Abraham Holloway will assist with middle school football and basketball and varsity football.

Jacques Poole will be the JDCHS head varsity baseball coach.

Marcus Luckett from Morton will be the head varsity girls’ basketball coach and cross country coach. “We are very fortunate to have Luckett and he has been working very hard with the varsity girls already this summer,” said Mancuso.

Tony Woody will be the head varsity boys’ basketball coach and the golf coach.

Akimi Rhodes will be the head girls’ volleyball coach.

Ryan Higdon is head of power lifting team and will also assist with varsity football.

Benjamin Merchant  is the new defensive coordinator. He will also bring the sport of  archery into the new school for students to be involved  in.

“We are adding cross country and archery to our athletics department this year. The more active these students are, the better opportunity they have at being successful. Not only in school and academics,  but in life. It builds a comradery within the school itself,” said Mancuso.

Calvin Simms is the head softball coach.

The varsity cheer coach is Kimberly Young.

Melanie Jackson is middle school cheer sponsor at Carver.

Kendra Payne is the middle school cheer sponsor at J.E. Johnson.

Coach Katricia Craig is the assistant girls’ basketball coach.

“We have quite a staff and its growing.  A lot of people need to understand  that our number one goal is academics because without their academics they are not of value for us because they are ineligible.

“When we started really pushing the ACT in our schools, it made our kids so much more marketable to colleges and universities. It is great marketplace when our athletes understand the importance of academics and ACT scores.

“We have about nine or 10 college players right now. Every single one of them are qualifiers. We have never had a child receive an offer from a four-year institution and not be able to go because he was academically ineligible.

According to Mancuso, the past individual booster clubs at each school, will all become one large booster.

“This way the businesses and parents won’t be bombarded every other day. Every sport is umbrellaed under that booster club so that when you make a donation you are making a donation to every student athlete at our high school.

“A percentage will go into what is called the main part and another percentage will go into that individual sport.”

The booster club will be called Jefferson Davis County High School Big Blue Booster.

“We need to market and sell that. We have an opportunity right now to make a difference and be in the forefront of what is going on. I want JDC to become a brand. We want to brand that across the state. We want it to be a household name. We need to sell our school, sell our athletic department and sell who we are. And it needs to be a positive sell throughout the state of Mississippi. I want everyone involved in Big Blue.”

More details on Big Blue, including meeting times, costs, etc., will be published in a later edition of the Headlight, as will the information regarding the new online school store.

“It’s not easy. I’ve had to make a lot of decisions and it has been tough. I’ve prayed a lot,” said Mancuso.

“I just want everyone to know in this community that I am making the best possible decision for these young men and women. The decisions that the Lord has led me to make. I hope that you, as a county and community, can support that. I’m real excited about our future.

“Now let’s go build a name and a brand for ourselves in Jefferson Davis County.”