November 3, 2008 Rotogram

EDUCATION EXCELLENCE

Outstanding students and teachers from Sudduth, Overstreet, Starkville Academy, and East Oktibbeha elementary schools will be recognized today.

A VETERAN’S DAY OBSERVANCE

Next week’s guest speaker will be local author Mark Gordon Hazard. The WW II veteran and retired West Point veterinarian is author of”World War II As I Remember.”

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge: Omis Avant

Attendance: There were 117 members (36 exempt) present, and 83 (19 exempt, 9 honorary) absent.
Guests and visitors: Members’ guests included Gordon Eastman and Les Potts of Brian Portera, Jeremy Brown of Ron Brown and Jon Maynard of Larry Mullins Guests of the Club were Taka Sato, Youth Exchange Student, and Jarrod Reneau, Ambassadorial Cultural Scholar.

Makeups reported: Brent Fountain at the RYE committee meeting, and Melanie Mitchell and Janette Self  at the board of directors meeting.

Club notes: President Chip informed the Club that past president Ed Clynch’s wife Barbara was being treated in Tupelo for a heart attack.

Chip led the Club in a standing ovation for MSU’s new interim president, Rotarian Roy Ruby. From the crowd came the cry, “His football record is 1-0!”

Martin Jue, attendance committee chair, recognized 28 members for 100 percent attendance in the first quarter of the program year.

Rotary Minute:  Joe Fratesi, community service chair, explained that any members who have not served on the Christmas parade committee are expected to help prepare our entry. This year’s parade is Dec. 8 in downtown Starkville. Our tradition is for new members to prepare Santa’s float.

Another holiday season service project is bell-ringing for the Salvation Army. Watch for our scheduled date and time to tend the kettle at WalMart.

Literacy effort:   Staff training at the childcare centers that we are sponsoring in Between the Lions literacy program began on Oct. 27. David and Sherry Vanlandingham, and Warren and Judy Housley went to Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson for train-the-trainer training week-before-last. Pre-tests will be given and an evaluation will be completed after the program is conducted.

ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE, 2009-2010

Our club will sponsor two Starkville High School sophomores for next year’s Rotary Youth Exchange. The Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation of the Youth Exchange committee to sponsor Laura Bridges and Anna Catherine Follett for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Laura is the daughter of David and Diana Bridges. Her dad is on the MSU aerospace engineering faculty, her mother is a volunteer consultant with international students. She hopes to go to one of the British Isles countries or France.

Anna is the daughter of Randy and Melissa Follett. Her father an electrical and computer engineer at the university and her mother works at T.E. Lott. The Folletts were host parents for Negrita Caicedo, last year’s exchange student from Ecuador. Anna wants to go to Italy.

Both girls are 4-point students at Starkville High School, are involved in a number of activities, and have outgoing personalities that will make them excellent ambassadors.

SEC WEST HOOPS CHAMPS HAVE PROMISING RECRUITS

Mississippi State basketball fans are excited after getting their first look at the 2008-2009 Bulldogs in the public scrimmage at “The Hump” Saturday, October 25. The coaches are excited, too, according to Assistant Coach Marcus Grant.

“Last year, we won the SEC western division but lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Memphis. The bad news is that we lost two of the players (Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon) who got us there,” he said.

However, Rick Stansbury and his staff anticipated the pair’s departure and had what appears to be a highly successful recruiting run, bringing in a trio of  talented freshmen and two top junior transfers to fill out a roster of experienced returning players.

Coach Grant gave Rotarians a quick summary of the players and schedule, then spent the final 10 minutes answering questions.

Replacing Gordon starting at the point will be true freshman Dee Bost, who Grant described as “a real deal.” Bost more than lived up to the coaches’ expectations in the scrimmage, scoring 34 points and distributing the ball skillfully. Backing him up will be another freshman guard, 6’5″ Twany Beckham.

Jarvis Varnado, last season’s national defensive player of the year who led the nation in blocked shots, worked hard in the off season to hone his skills at the low post. The junior center “really picked up his offensive game,” according to Grant. Backing up Varnardo at the post will be sophomore Elgin Bailey (6’8″), who saw considerable action as a freshman.

Another starter from last year is junior Barry Stewart, the popular shooting guard and co-captain (with Varnado) of this year’s squad. Grant said Stewart has fully recovered from an off-season foot injury. “He’ll lead by example.”

Fans watching the scrimmage games were awed by the performance of Romero Osby, a 6’8″ freshman from Meridian, who made all four of his three-point shots and proved to be a strong rebounder.

Dominating that first scrimmage was Raven Johnson, 6’7″ sophomore, who saw action last season and then played over the summer in the Dominican Republic. “He has great athleticism but only weighs 180 pounds. We’ve put him on special diets and encouraged him to eat fast foods, but he’s one of those who just doesn’t gain weight. He needs about 20 more pounds to make the NBA,” Grant said.

The only senior on the team is Brian Johnson, who is coming along well with rehabilitating a leg injury. Grant said he’ll see a lot of playing time at either the four or five position.

Riley Benot didn’t suit up for the scrimmage game, but is expected to see plenty of action this season. The 6’4″ guard was injured in practice. “He tried to run through an Elgin Bailey screen – I thought he was smarter than that! He’ll be okay and ready to play.,” Grant said.

Also returning from last year are Phil Turner and Kodi Augustus, both sophomores who Grant expects to see plenty of playing time.

When questioned about Jacquiese Holcombe, Grant said the JUCO All-American transfer is nursing a stress fracture in his leg, but described him as “a good defender on the wing.”

This year’s schedule features 18 home games, including exhibition games Nov. 1 and Nov. 8, then opening the season at home against Centenary Nov. 15.

“We’ve got a lot of good players so we can throw a lot of defensive looks at our opponents.”

When asked about this year’s SEC teams, Grant said there continues to be a lot of parity. Tennessee is probably the top team in the league with Alabama ranked tops in the west. “They have us fourth in the west – we’ll surprise a lot of people.”

In response to other questions, Grant said Jamont Gordon is playing in Italy and Charles Rhodes was recently released from the Dallas Mavericks and probably will play overseas.

The new academic building is beautiful and will help our guys and will help in recruiting.
“Maybe they’ll get excited about study hall,” he quipped.

Dave Boles introduced Coach Grant, who was among the Bulldog’s most popular players and 3-year starter, a member of the 1995 Sweet Sixteen team that included All-American’s Erick Dampier and Darryl Wilson. This will be his sixth season on the Bulldog basketball staff after playing basketball in Europe for 8 years.

PROPOSED NEW MEMBERS

The Classification Committee recommended to the Board of Directors that the club admit as new members Charles Guest with a classification of Education/Legal proposed by Jack Forbus, Les Potts with a classification of Education/Finance proposed by Brian Portera, and Jon Maynard with a classification of Economic Development proposed by Larry Mullins.

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