February 25, 2008
Special Thanks, Special People, Special “K”
By Carey Meitzler
Hosting a tournament of the magnitude of a South State takes a lot of work before and during the event.
Picayune did a great job in putting on the tournament last week at Kelly Wise Memorial Gymnasium.
There were lot of specials.
Special thanks go out to everyone who came out and supported the Maroon Tide and gave them a little extra boost. The crowds
were as close to the 2002 South State at Kelly Wise as any I've seen. I hope that many, if not all, of you will be in Jackson next
Monday night. To all the folks that helped with the tickets, the hospitality room (special thanks to Joanne Woods), and other
related support activities, take a bow.
What a wonderful job Pearl River Central Head Coach Alan Lumpkin did in assisting me with the WRJW 1320 AM
broadcasts. Alan volunteered after last week's Region 8-4A tournament that his school hosted. Going back to that event, PRC
did a great job. Alan, Coach Donna Spiers, Athletic Director Doug Smith, Bruce Penton, and a cast of many others are to be
commended for their efforts. Back to Coach Lumpkin; he provided some very intriguing and easy to understand commentary,
insight that not many could provide the way he did, and an A+ job taking over the statistics from me. I hope Alan gets a chance
to coach in one of the venues like a South State in the near future. In the meantime, I hope he can go with me to Jackson next
Monday. If you didn't get to listen, then I suggest you go back and listen to some of the Audio Replays available on this site
and you'll see what I mean. Thanks again Alan.
Over the past seven years, they've worked concessions, swept the court between games, took up dollar bills for half court
shots at halftime, ran to Sam's to get concession supplies more times than you can imagine, filmed games, feed players in their
homes, prepared “meals in a bag', traveled to about five different states covering thousands of miles, and so on. As parents,
their last game at Kelly Wise was a good one with yet another South State championship. The Daly's (Joe and Amy) and
the Fortenberry's (Earl and Mary) are special people. They have been through it with two sets of sons; first Joey and Earl,
Jr, and now Ben and Brandon. They know how much I appreciate what they have done for and given to Picayune basketball
over the past 7 plus years. I have been blessed to call them friends and be on their “team”. We all thank you all for what you
given us and I am so glad to know you and all four of the boys. Special people.
Very seldom do you attend a Picayune basketball game when Dwight and Faye Bond are absent. Home or away, they are
as dependable as parents. Faye also takes great pictures and presents a collection to each player at the end of the season.
Dwight goes through the game like he is still playing. He twists, he turns, he jumps, screams, high fives, right along with
every bounce of the ball on the court. Ernie Lovell and Robert Puyper are two others who you can count on seeing at the
game unless a solid reason exists to be elsewhere. Ernie had his brackets (all classifications) in hand on Wednesday and
was there for every game on Thursday. He didn't miss a dribble from 4:00pm until six plus hours later. Like the Bonds,
they are a part of what is special about Maroon Tide basketball.
Like Ernie, Danny Wise was there at 4:00pm on Thursday as well. Danny's brother Kelly Wise was a special person.
I was too young to know Kelly before his tragic death, but after doing the Name on the Wall story for this web site,
I got to know a lot about him and got a first hand account of the Joe and Shirley Wise family values. Each time I get to
visit with Danny Wise at the gym named after his younger brother, I get reminded of what fine people Joe and Shirley
Wise raised in Henleyfield.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said,
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. ”
Amazingly, she never knew Daniel Kennedy and yet this fits him so well. Coach “K” is a what you see is what you get
kind of person. The way he handles himself on and off the court is the thing that stands out the most, not the wins and
back to back South State titles in his first two years. No scandals, no questions about his integrity, no character issues,
and he never demeans his players in front of a crowd or in private. He handles himself like a seasoned head coach.
He always talks about his players in terms of "heart" and "commitment". He is firm and in command, but never out
of control. I once heard Archie Manning during one of his Archie on Sports radio segments quote someone say
"Leadership can only be present when one's character is stable". Kenneth Blanchard, who has written many
best sellers on Leadership and the qualities it takes to be a leader in today's world put it this way,
"The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority."
Coach K's parents are good, simple, Godly folks who raised him in the same mold. Daniel is great family man with
three young boys and a wife who is so supportive many have mistaken her as one of the assistants. Lacy is probably
knowledgeable enough to coach at this level, but she's busy playing zone trying to watch her own boys.
This past week in the South State, Coach K was at his best despite all the distractions and responsibilities that come
from being the host team. He was exhausted by the time his first game at 8:30pm on Thursday rolled around. Now,
please don't take this the wrong way, but McComb and Port Gibson probably had more raw talent than we did and
Stanislaus had the odds in their favor having lost to us 3 times earlier this season. Unfortunately, for all of three of them,
they faced a team that was more focused, better prepared, made adjustments, and never lost their composure in the
heat of the battle. All of this is a direct reflection of his leadership and passion to be the best you can be.
From now on, he's Special K.