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Olympic-Themed Choctaw Sports Night Gives MC Student-Athletes Moment of Reflection, Celebration

Avery Hederman, the 2022 Gulf South Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year, and Cole Benoit, an all-GSC distance runner, will headline Choctaw Sports Night April 17.
Avery Hederman, the 2022 Gulf South Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year, and Cole Benoit, an all-GSC distance runner, will headline Choctaw Sports Night April 17.

Two of the most highly regarded student-athletes at Mississippi College are scheduled to speak at an exclusive event that celebrates members of all 18 varsity sports, cheerleaders, and others for their hard work in the classroom and on the field of play.

MC graduates Avery Hederman, the 2022 Gulf South Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year who helped lead the MC women’s soccer team to its first GSC championship that season, and Cole Benoit, an all-GSC distance runner named to the conference’s spring and winter all-academic teams, will keynote the third-annual Choctaw Sports Night, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, in Anderson Hall in the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

Sponsored by MC Athletics, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and the M Club, the banquet pays homage to the student-athletes, coaches, and administrators who have contributed to the Choctaw legacy this year.

“Choctaw Sports Night is a time when we can unite as one department and recognize our accomplishments throughout the academic year, during which we represented Mississippi College well in collegiate sports,” said Emily Berry, a senior pre-physical therapy major from Tyler, Texas, who runs cross country and track at MC. “Athletes and coaches look forward to the event because it celebrates everything they have accomplished this year.

“It gives them an opportunity to dress up, enjoy some good food, and relive their athletic highlights.”

There have been plenty of moments to savor this year. In Gulf South Conference All-Sports Trophy competition, MC ranked second among the 13-member universities in men, women, and overall standings through the winter term.

Student-athletes aren’t the only ones who enjoy Choctaw Sports Night. SAAC cosponsors Leigh Streetman, pitching coach of MC’s highly touted softball team, and Miguel Black, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for the football squad, are anticipating a lively turnout from all athletic corners.

“Our SAAC members have been working diligently to make this a special night for all student-athletes, coaches, and administrative staff to recognize and honor their success,” Streetman said. “With the busy schedules everyone has, this is a special time for our entire athletic department – administrators, coaches, and student-athletes – to come together and fellowship.”

Black said the guest speakers were specially selected as exemplary representatives of Mississippi College Athletics.

“Avery and Cole are both Mississippi natives and All-Americans who have represented this University with pride,” he said. “These are two outstanding graduates who have both excelled at their sports and in the classroom.”

“They each have enjoyed successful collegiate sports careers that fully encapsulate the heart of MC Athletics,” Berry said. “They can sympathize with the emotions of every athlete or coach in the audience.”

In addition to the guest presentations, Streetman said the event will include live voting, the awarding of individual and team honors, and a special presentation to the family of the program’s Make-a-Wish champion. The 2024 graduating class of student-athletes will receive special recognition.

The theme for Choctaw Sports Night this year will focus on the Olympics and honor its ideals of striving for excellence, demonstrating respect, and celebrating friendship. These mirror MC Athletics’ mission to promote the spiritual, social, emotional, and physical development of its student-athletes while embracing the Division II model for a balanced program of learning and development.

“I would like the attendees of Choctaw Sports Night to feel like MC Athletics is celebrating all the hard work they have put in over the course of the year,” said Elena Roberts, SAAC vice-president, who directs the event. “It is a fine recognition of the achievements of MC student-athletes.”

Berry said her favorite part about the student-led event is seeing her friends and fellow athletes dressed up and excited as they walk into the beautifully decorated banquet hall.

“Everyone has a smile on their face that tends to stay for the entirety of the evening,” she said. “I want attendees to experience the moment with their teammates and put into perspective their accomplishments. It’s a time for them to celebrate and have a moment away from the stressful schedules of being student-athletes.

“I speak for myself and every MC athlete when I say we are beyond grateful to all who support us and make this evening and our seasons possible.”