Young’s legacy still strong at Warren Central

Published 12:03 am Saturday, May 26, 2012

Even though she retired in 2010, reminders of Lucy Young’s coaching legacy at Warren Central are everywhere.

The softball field is named after her and she founded the slow-pitch and fast-pitch programs. She started both of the soccer programs.

And now she’s a hall of famer. Young will be inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson June 22, the eighth woman to be inducted. She’ll be the third Warren Central coach to be inducted, following former football coaches Lum Wright and Robert Morgan.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“I’m just so humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor,” Young said. “It’s given me an opportunity to stop and reflect on all of the people, players and games I’ve coached. I felt like I hung the moon when I got here. I like to say when I came to Warren Central, I was happy and thrilled just to get the job and I left the same way.”

Since retirement, Young has been working with Special Olympics, running the softball tournament and helping with the track meet, volleyball and the prom.

Young spent her entire 36-year career at Warren Central and always knew what she wanted to do, even in junior high school.

“My next door neighbor told my mother that she saw how I was organizing the neighborhood kids in a kickball game and even putting dogs in the positions where we were short,” Young said. “She said there was no doubt, I was going to be a teacher.”

But she didn’t know if she was going to be coaching. Despite being a standout athlete, she had her doubts whether she could pull double duty and excel at both.

“My worry was if I could do both,” Young said. “There’s always some give on one or the other. I wanted to be successful at both. But they’re both teaching, really. The field is an extension of the classroom. I know it is what I was destined to do and, so many times, I’ve had things happen that reinforced that it was what I was supposed to be doing.”

She was also quite flexible when it came to learning on the job. In the mid-70s, soccer was a new and exotic sport. She wanted to start a program, but she had to learn how it worked. Her solution? She started refereeing recreational games and pored over the rulebook. She watched a few games on TV.

“Lum Wright called me into his office and said that I knew more about soccer than anybody at the school,” Young said. “I said, ‘sure, I’ll give it a try.’”

She did more than that. She built a team out of a foreign exchange student and “some country boys from Redbone and the county” and the Vikings went undefeated in their first season on the pitch.

The numbers boggle the mind when it comes to describing Young’s career. In slow-pitch, her teams went 462-251 and in fast-pitch, 99-44. As a soccer coach, her boys teams went 258-63-16 and won five division titles and two North State titles. Her girls teams went 84-27-2 and won a Central Mississippi title — awarded before the MHSAA went to its present postseason format — and a division title.

“I never seemed to coach anything inside,” Young said. “It was always either red-hot in slow-pitch or freezing cold in soccer or cold again in the first few games in fast-pitch.”

However, her biggest contribution had nothing to do with numbers. It was her impact on lives.

Warren Central girls soccer coach Trey Banks played for Young when he was a freshman. He remembers how she touched his life with a small gesture.

“I’d started out short and fat and I sprang up from 5-foot-4 to 6-foot-1 in a year,” Banks said. “I was in 10th grade and I remember, I’d set a goal, after running lots of 10-minute miles, to get my time down to six minutes.”

He talked it over with Young, who was no longer coaching the boys program. She gave him some encouragement.

Banks accomplished his feat and Young, who heard about it, visited him in class with a WC soccer jacket.

“She handed it to me and she said, you deserve this, you’ve earned it,” Banks said. “She was always what I called a player’s coach. She always had your best interests at heart.”

Jennie Banks, who played on Young’s first girls soccer team in 1989 and played softball as well, said that the things Young taught her stick with her today.

“She is such an inspiration,” Jennie Banks said. “You wouldn’t believe that you could do something, but she knew you could do it. She taught me to be dedicated and to take my passion and go with it. She pushed you to be better, even when you didn’t think you could. She helped me become self-motivated and dedicated to what I do.”

But it wasn’t just her athletes and students in the classroom who she mentored.

WC softball coach Dana McGivney, who replaced her at the helm of the softball program, was glad to be able to have her as a resource for her first four years at the school.

“She’s just a good coach and a good lady,” McGivney said. “She was a great mentor and that’s something a lot of people don’t get and I was grateful to have.”

The biggest satisfaction for Young is knowing she left a legacy of opportunities for athletes at the school.

The softball field, named for her in 2008, has gone from just a rudimentary field without fences and minimal dugouts to one of the state’s best facilities. The softball, tennis and soccer programs she put on the map are all thriving.

“It was such a good feeling to be on the ground floor, working with the best athletes in the state,” Young said. “Watching these programs grow has been a thrill. I think back to all of the parents and families who were so dedicated to our programs. It was a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people. We had to fight some battles to get things and give kids the opportunities they have now. It was so great to be a witness to all of that.”