Morgan “Little Deer Foot” Tynes Strengthens Mississippi College Family Legacy
April 4, 2012
Morgan Tynes proudly wears the blue and gold as a fourth generation Mississippi College Choctaw.
A 19-year-old from Waynesboro, Tynes is a cheerleader, cross country runner and track hurdler who’s living the dream as an MC student-athlete with family roots at the Christian university.
Passionate about running and breaking records along the way, Morgan is equally on fire to excel in the classroom. Her MC education degree will open doors for her to become a classroom teacher and coach.
“It is something I want to do for the rest of my life. That’s where the Lord can use me,” the Mississippi College sophomore says. Whether it’s teaching science or mathematics and coaching sports like track and basketball, Morgan hopes to make a difference in the lives of young people.
Known as “Little Deer Foot” for her speed and determination on the MC track and cross country scene the past two years, the Wayne Academy graduate is following in the footsteps of her great grandfather Lomer “Deer Foot” Cliburn.
Rated as the second best female hurdler in MC women’s track history, Morgan has proven she’s got “achiever” in her DNA. When running on the Choctaws’ track, she often thinks of the path that Cliburn blazed as an extraordinary student-athlete on the Clinton campus in the 1920s.
Coming from tiny McDonald, Mississippi, Cliburn stepped off the train in Clinton one summer and soon found a job laying bricks at the Baptist school’s Alumni Hall to earn enough money to pay for college.
A 1928 MC graduate as the nation endured tough times in the Great Depression, Cliburn thrived on the Clinton campus as a talented cross country runner, team captain and student body president. Elected to the MC Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, Cliburn joined former Choctaws head football coach Bernard Blackwell to help raise funds to build the university’s A.E. Wood Coliseum. During his career, Cliburn was a successful Mississippi high school coach and teacher. His nephew was the world famous pianist Van Cliburn.
Assistant Choctaws track coach Mike McMillan sees similarities between the “Deer Foot” of Mississippi College, circa 1920s, and the “Little Deer Foot” of the early 21st Century. “Her great grandfather had no love for running, but he developed a love for it,” says the 1966 MC graduate. “That’s just like Morgan.”
In the 1980s, Morgan’s father, Scott Tynes of Heidelberg, Miss., also was a big achiever on campus as an MC cheerleader and student body president before graduating in 1984. Morgan’s “Papaw,” Rev. Jamie Tynes worked as a Mississippi preacher after receiving his bachelor’s at the Christian university in 1953. The pastor’s wife also was an MC graduate.
Morgan is trying to keep all of the MC family records, and photographs in one place as she logs outstanding performances of her own. Earlier this spring, Tynes turned in strong showings during track meets in Hattiesburg and Mobile, Alabama. Morgan finished second in the 400 meter hurdles at the University of South Alabama Invitational, but she noted it wasn’t her best time. Ranking No. 2 in MC women’s track hurdles history (it dates back to 1928) behind last year’s track standout Liz Laubenberg, however, is an awesome accomplishment, McMillan says,
Running is something that Morgan Tynes enjoys when sprinting along the Choctaw Trails or reading about the sport in the Bible. “In the Bible, the Lord talks about running,” she said. “We depend on the Lord for his strength.”
A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Morgan attends Calvary Baptist Church in Waynesboro and has been a singer in the choir.
“I love how FCA is a whole group that encourages glorifying the Lord with how we play the game. Whether it is the game of life in our school work or job, or the games we play with our teammates. I’ve learned so much through sports and through FCA. It’s helped me in my walk through life and my walk with the Lord.”
Friends and coaches are quick to praise Morgan, who’s seldom without a smile on her face. Her determination to do her very best is just as impressive, they say.
“When Morgan Tynes steps on the track, whether it’s a race or practice, you know that you are about to see somebody giving it everything,” said MC senior long distance runner Will Clingon, 23, of Biloxi. “She’s one of the hardest working people I have ever seen on and off the track.”
Emily Bordenanve, a track team graduate assistant, says “Morgan is an amazing young lady who is always a joy to be around. She’s determined and works hard at whatever task she is given.”
The same holds true for Morgan’s cheerleading skills, says coach Sandy Wren. “She is truly a joy to work with, an excellent role model and Christian example to her peers.”
Tynes juggles three sports, is a solid student, is involved with a social tribe and duties as an MC Scout or student recruiter. “Morgan can do it all, and she does it very well,” Wren says.
While she relishes all the family stories about life at MC, Morgan never got the chance to meet her great grandfather, “Deer Foot” Cliburn. She was just two days old when the Mississippi College sports legend died on May 25, 1992. But someone snapped a Polaroid picture of the family’s new baby, and her father, Scott Tynes, slipped Morgan’s photo into the casket. That moment, Morgan Tynes said, served as a reminder that the Lord gives and He takes away.
Photo: MC track team member Morgan Tynes of Waynesboro and assistant coaches Mike McMillan and Camille Ross