Hassell did it all on way to HOF

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Given his bloodlines, Barry Hassell might have been an oddity in his family if he hadn’t turned out to be a great athlete.

His father, Doug, played quarterback at the University of Richmond. He had three uncles who played college baseball. His younger sister was an outstanding tennis player in high school.

Hassell more than fit into that family tree. He won three boys singles tennis championships at Vicksburg High and then helped Ole Miss win two Southeastern Conference team titles. He played basketball for VHS. After his college career ended, he took up golf as a “hobby,” won several club championships and contended for the Mississippi Golf Association’s State Amateur title.

Barry Hassell

Barry Hassell

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On Thursday, Hassell will be enshrined as one of Warren County’s all-time great athletes when he’s part of the inaugural class of the Vicksburg Warren School District’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He’ll join Vicksburg High basketball great Cynthia Hall and Warren Central football players Tony Smith, Sean Brewer and Carl Blue in the Hall.

“I’m really excited about it. It’s really cool I know a few of the people going in, and I can rattle off people more deserving than myself,” Hassell said.

The hall of fame induction ceremony will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. at Roca Restaurant and Bar. Tickets are $20, and the event is open to the public. The 2016 class will also be honored at Friday’s Warren Central vs. Vicksburg football game at Memorial Stadium.

Hassell, who graduated from Vicksburg High in 1995, was part of a decade-long golden age in Warren County high school sports. Hall graduated two years later and helped VHS reach the Class 5A girls’ basketball championship game, as well as winning two North State championships in 1996 and 1997.

Smith and Brewer played in the late 1980s. Smith went on to star at Southern Miss and is the only Warren County player ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Brewer led Warren Central to the 1988 Class 5A championship, then became an All-American defensive lineman at Millsaps. In the past year he has been inducted to the National College Football and Mississippi Sports halls of fame.

A number of other teams and athletes won championships or starred on an individual level as well. Vicksburg had two future NFL defensive linemen, Mark Smith and Michael Myers, come through a couple of years ahead of Hassell, and Warren Central’s 1994 state championship football team had a dozen future college players on the roster.

Hassell, though, more than held his own in that pantheon. He won the Class 5A boys singles tennis championship in 1992, ’93 and ’95, and only lost one match in four years at the high school level. In college, he helped Ole Miss reach the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament in 1996, and the final four the following year.

After graduating law school and settling in Ridgeland, he became an avid golfer. He once made the finals of the Mississippi Golf Association’s state four-ball tournament, won the Vicksburg Country Club championship four times and the Annandale club championship once.

“Golf is my hobby now,” he said.

Now he’s headed to the hall of fame in his hometown, a bit of a do-everything oddity among football and basketball legends but more than holding his own on the stage.

“It’s extremely humbling, quite frankly,” Hassell said of his selection. “You had some of the best athletes in Warren County during that time that I grew up. Just to know the pedigree of athletes in Warren County, these are phenomenal athletes.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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