When the Saint Came Marching In
New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer Fred McAfee ’91 helped raise $170,000 for Mississippi College at the university’s annual athletics dinner. The former Choctaws football standout began by claiming he was not a gifted speaker, but his heartfelt message left the crowd inspired and the future of MC athletics even brighter than the days when McAfee took the field.
McAfee broke school records as a Choctaws football star from 1987-90, then went on to enjoy a successful career in the NFL. He now serves as director of player personnel for the New Orleans Saints. During his 16 years on the NFL field, McAfee played for renowned coaches including Sean Payton, Lovie Smith, and Tony Dungy, yet he said his greatest memories and most valuable lessons came from the MC football staff who coached him nearly three decades ago. McAfee concluded by saying he is as much “on fire for the blue and gold” as he was during his playing days for the Choctaws. McAfee expressed excitement about MC’s move back to NCAA Division II and return to the Gulf South Conference, adding, “I’ll help in any way I can.”
McAfee predicts a future filled with thrilling wins under the leadership of Coach John Bland, noting that, “Hard work trumps everything.”
MC’s Cheng Li Captures the 2014 USA Collegiate Table Tennis Singles Title
MC student Cheng Li of China defeated all challengers at the 2014 Collegiate Table Tennis Championships held near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last April, bringing home the Men’s Singles Title. Cheng Li knocked off several outstanding opponents before defeating his MC teammate, tournament runner-up Yichi Zhang, to win the championship.
The coach and captain of the MC table tennis team, Cheng Li is determined to see the entire squad take the 2015 championship at the national tournament in Wisconsin April 10-12. MC’s table tennis team has finished No. 2 nationwide the past three seasons in a row, earning a higher ranking than teams from Princeton, Southern California, UCLA, Ohio State, Penn State, Harvard, Duke, and Columbia.
Bullseye Mississippi College
Last fall, MC students fired the shot needed to launch Mississippi’s first collegiate archery team.
Waldo Cleland, the 1995 world archery champion and four-time national archery champion, serves as the new team’s coach. The MC archers will take aim in the U.S. Collegiate Archery Association’s Southern Division, competing against teams from Texas A&M, the University of Florida, and Georgia Southern.
Following MC’s lead, Mississippi State University has formed the second collegiate archery team in Mississippi. Archery is also catching on at Mississippi high schools, with more than 53,000 students in 426 high schools participating.
Archery is the latest MC sport to fall under the direction of Jim Turcotte, vice presidentforenrollmentservices and dean of students. Turcotte also oversees the MC equestrian team, bass fishing, and clay shooting squads.
“I grew up in an outdoors family that enjoyed archery and bow hunting,” said MC archery team member Parker Battista of Talmadge, Ohio. “It’s always been a part of my life and I’m happy to continue to hit the bullseye at Mississippi College.”
Men’s Soccer Team Closes Out Super 2014 Season
The 2014 men’s soccer team closed out a superb 2014 season with a trip to Florida to compete in the national championships.
The Mid-East champions of the National Christian College Athletic Association, Mississippi College was the No. 1 seed heading into the December 3 championship. The Choctaws were making the transition back into NCAA Division II and were not eligible to compete in post-season NCAA play, but shined in NCCAA games. After holding onto a tie score against Palm Beach Atlantic for the first 43 minutes of the game, the Choctaws lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to the Sailfishes. MC finished with a strong 12-6-2 record to wrap up its initial season back in the potent Gulf South Conference.
Individual players were also recognized. Senior Brian Vasquez of Houston, Texas, was named an NCCAA Division I All-American. Over his four-year career with the Choctaws, Vasquez set an MC school record with 40 assists, and recorded 17 helpers during his senior year. MC soccer standout Francisco DeAnda of El Paso, Texas, was named an Honorable Mention All-American, while Josh Barrera was a third team selection.
The stellar season left Mississippi College in good shape for recruiting, with Coach Kevin Johns hearing from interested student-athletes across the United States and abroad.