Hall of Fame Advisory Committee Seeks Nominations for Current Crop of MC Sports Immortals
Even 40 years later, Dr. Jim Turcotte vividly remembers the first time he encountered a Mississippi College Athletics Hall of Famer.
A placekicker on the Choctaws football team in the early 1980s, Turcotte and his teammates were preparing to take the field before a regular season home contest when legendary World War I-era quarterback Edwin “Goat” Hale, a 1976 MC Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, addressed the squad.
“The only thing I knew about Goat Hale at the time was that he had been a student at Mississippi College and he was an outstanding football player,” said Turcotte, vice president and executive director of the Alumni Association at MC. “Our head coach, John Williams, invited him into the locker room, and he got our attention.
“He gave a motivational speech, and it made a big impression on the team at the time.”
Hale’s message that day may be lost to antiquity, but the inspiration it evoked has lived for decades in Turcotte’s memory. Outstanding athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators like Hale, Williams – a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee – and more than 250 other men and women who have been selected for the prestigious honor have made a lasting impact on the Christian University.
The MC Athletics Hall of Fame was established to recognize their valuable contributions. From the first quartet of honorees in 1973 – Harry “Wildfire” Craft, a four-sport letterman at MC who helped the Cincinnati Reds win the 1940 World Series; James Edwards, a southpaw who spent the majority of the 1920s pitching for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox; Hal B. “Sheriff” Lee, captain of MC’s football and baseball teams who played left field for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves in the 1930s; and Stanley L. Robinson, longtime head coach of the MC football team who guided the Choctaws to a tie for the 1940 Dixie Conference championship – to the most recent crop of inductees in 2019, the list of Hall of Famers reads like a “Who’s Who” of Mississippi College athletics.
“It’s a relatively small group compared to the total number of athletes who have come through the institution,” Turcotte said. “And it’s apparent that the individuals who have been selected in previous years have contributed significantly to the college in various ways.”
One such honorary is Kim Thurman, a women’s basketball and softball standout at MC who is an environmental division director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
“It is a tremendous honor to have been inducted into the MC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008,” said Thurman, a 2011 Young Alumna of the Year honoree at her alma mater. “The opportunity to play college athletics not only fulfilled a childhood dream, but provided many life lessons that have benefited my family and work life throughout the years.
“It has provided a foundation for work ethic, time management, and dealing with adversity – just to name a few.”
The elite group of the most cherished athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators Mississippi College has ever produced will expand this spring. After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as part of the 50th anniversary of the MC Athletics Hall of Fame, members of the Advisory Board are seeking nominations for an expanded 2023 class of distinguished honorees who will have their names forever etched in Blue-and-Gold lore.
“Having an Athletics Hall of Fame is very important to MC as it allows the opportunity to formally recognize former athletes for their accomplishments during their time at MC,” said Thurman, who will chair the board’s selection committee. “It provides a sense of tradition that future generations can build upon. And it allows current athletes to connect with former athletes.”
MC President Blake Thompson, university administrators, advisory board members, and current and former athletes will honor the Class of 2023 selections during the MC Athletics Hall of Fame induction dinner April 29 in Anderson Hall.
Kenny Bizot, MC athletic director and 2008 MC Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, also will present awards to the top senior athletes on each of MC’s varsity teams during the banquet.
“It was such an honor for me to be included in the Hall of Fame because of my love for Mississippi College and all it represents,” said Bizot, an outstanding basketball player who earned the Choctaws’ “Mr. Hustle” award in each of his four seasons as an MC hoopster. “It was humbling because of all the great players I was around and that had come before me.
“It is important for today’s athletes to be recognized by their peers. The banquet brings people back to the college, and it offers an opportunity for our athletic department to build relationships with our former players and their families.”
During the banquet, each member of the MC Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will receive a commemorative plaque to display in their home or office. The public is invited. Individual tickets or sponsor tables will be available for purchase online.
“This is a significant event that defines who we are as an institution,” Turcotte said. “The individuals who have received this honor are among our best and brightest. There’s no guarantee that the MC Athletics Hall of Fame will last in perpetuity, but it has certainly been valued at our University since 1973 and will be for many years to come.”
Being selected for the Hall of Fame wasn’t the only benefit Thurman derived from her playing career.
“The greatest impact from MC Athletics was meeting my husband, Chris, who was a member of the men’s basketball team during our time at MC,” she said. “The MC family and fan base can submit nominations as MC recommences the Athletics Hall of Fame post-pandemic. Who would know better than those who followed the former MC athletes so deserving of this honor?
“It is a very exciting time to be a Choctaw, and the Class of 2023 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees will only add to that excitement.”