Mississippi College Inducts 2009 Sports Hall of Fame
April 29, 2009Bobby Waterbury teaches girls fast-pitch softball at his Clinton business, Paul Meyerchick once played pro football in the NFL, and Tesa Townsend Duckworth runs physical therapy programs at a Mendenhall hospital.
They are three of the eight newest members inducted into the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame on April 25 during a banquet on the Clinton campus.
"It's the culmination of an athletic career. It is hard to come up with words about how important that is," Waterbury said Wednesday. "For your peers to vote you into the Hall of Fame is quite an honor. It was a big day to say the least."
President Lee Royce, Athletic Director Mike Jones, and former Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale of Clinton were among those on hand to heap praise upon the newest inductees. "MC has inducted some very good athletes from days past," said Dale, a former MC trustee and alumnus who works at a Jackson law firm.
Waterbury is well-known in alumni circles and around his native Mississippi. Since 2006, he's served as the owner of Waterbury's Fast Pitch in Clinton's Industrial Park, just a stone's throw off I-20. The 1976 MC graduate and his team of sports instructors help about 150 girls from all over the Magnolia State. They focus on pitching and batting tips, but branch out by teaching girls how to toss the shot put or throw the discus. He's volunteered to help the MC softball team at his alma mater.
Fast pitch, Waterbury says, is definitely growing in popularity nationwide with 357,000 girls playing the game in USA high schools last year.
A Gulfport native, Waterbury was named MC's Most Outstanding Track Man in 1974 and served as president of the MC Track Alumni Association from 1976 to 1986. He and his wife, Lynne Martin Waterbury, have been married 32 years after the couple first met on the Clinton campus. They have two married daughters, including Katie, a 2004 MC graduate who was a fastpitch star as a Lady Choctaw softball player.
A specialist in the shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throws, Bobby Waterbury was MC's track MVP in 1975. The 55-year-old Clintonian recalls seeing fellow Hall of Fame inductees during their playing days at Mississippi College. "I used to see Tom Payne hit home runs, and Buck French was one of the school's best basketball players. Terry Blalock was a teammate."
The latest crop of Sports Hall of Fame members were all superb athletes at the Baptist-affiliated college. Today, they're making big contributions to their communities, churches and professions.
- Paul Meyerchick, a Gulfport High graduate and 1985 MC alumnus. A former All-Gulf South Conference First Team member, he was an MC punter and defensive back. Meyerchick played as a free safety with the Minnesota Vikings in 1984 and signed with the Houston Oilers as a punter in 1985. He was president of the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association from 1998 until 2002. He's served as an educator and coach at Varnado High in Louisiana since 2003.
- Tesa Townsend Duckworth, who played basketball at Florence High, lettered with the Lady Choctaws from 1974 until 1978. She played in the Women's Professional Basketball League in Chicago and New Orleans from 1978-80. The director of physical therapy at Simpson General Hospital in Mendenhall, she's helped with Upward Basketball at First Baptist Church in Magee.
- Terry Blalock, a 1972 Forest Hill High graduate in Jackson, was a track and football star at MC. At Forest Hill, he was the 1972 state champion in the high jump. At MC, Terry said he always played "high in spirit, sportsmanship and the intense desire to make something happen." He was named MC's scholar-athlete of the year in 1977.
- Ernest "Benny" Hughes, a 1981 Lumberton High graduate who played middle linebacker at MC where he was All Gulf South Conference. He earned a bachelor's in business administration in 1986. Today, he works as an insurance adjuster with State Farm in the Jackson area.
- John Thomas Payne, a 1972 MC graduate, who excelled on the baseball field for the Choctaws. On the day of the banquet, the MC Choctaws baseball team won at Frierson Field as the Choctaws advanced in the American Southwest Conference Tournament. He was a "tremendous hitter and pitcher" at MC, Dale said. "Tom" Payne works in the building supplies business in the Jackson area.
- Buck French, Jr, MC Class of 1974, who was a 1969 Pearl High graduate where he was captain of the basketball team and honorable mention All-American. A former hoops player at Belhaven College, he served as basketball team captain during his two years at MC. He was named outstanding senior athlete for 1973-74 with the honor coming from the M Club. A former Pearl teacher, he spent 25 years with Yellow Freight Systems. He now works with Averitt Express in a management position.
- Tracey Anne Brewer-Walker, a 1990 MC graduate who was a star player for the Lady Choctaws softball team. Today, she is a defense attorney in Ripley, Tenn. where she owns her practice.
Following Saturday's ceremonies at the B.C. Rogers Student Center, there are about 80 inductees in the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame.