There are other careers in sports besides ‘player’

Published 8:05 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

The early signing period for high school athletes is upon us. Last week, five Warren Central athletes in three sports put pen to paper to accept college scholarship offers. Dozens of others around the state did the same.

On Wednesday, Porter’s Chapel Academy senior Shelby Barwick signed with Hinds Community College and offered a reminder that you don’t always have to excel in a traditional sport to make a future for yourself in the sports world.

Barwick is a pretty good softball player for PCA, but her scholarship is for cheerleading. She has been on PCA’s squad for four years, participated in gymnastics when she was younger, and will now get an opportunity to go to college because of the work she has put in.

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Across the river at Tallulah Academy, Emmy-Lu Marsh is taking a similar path. She began riding horses at a young age and discovered she had a talent for it. She is one of the best young equestrian riders in the country and has committed to compete for Texas A&M. Marsh is only a junior and can’t sign until November 2018.

Even non-athletes can pay for college and make a living in sports. Warren Central graduate Mike Parson has risen through the ranks with the NFL’s Houston Texans to become their director of equipment services. He started learning his trade at WC in the early 1990s and got a scholarship with Mississippi State’s football equipment staff — as have several of his successors — before landing big-time jobs with the Saints and then the Texans.

There are plenty of other careers in sports off the field. There are often openings for support staff like videographers, in ticket sales or marketing, in the front office helping run the business side of things, in sports medicine and athletic training, as an agent or a dozen other careers.

There’s also the glamorous world of sports media.

Bottom line, if you have a passion for sports, think it might be what you want to do for a living, but can’t throw a 95 mph fastball, run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash or dribble a basketball without kicking it out of bounds, don’t worry. You can still find a niche and make it happen.

You do need to make it happen, though. Doors don’t magically open. It takes hard work to become good at a craft. When you put in that work, people further up the ladder start to notice and doors do tend to open. And that is when the magic really happens, regardless of your career path.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

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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