Sports column: Stamm, Ebersole are names worth remembering

Published 3:55 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

Oftentimes, we see a name on a building or an event and don’t give it much thought. The person it was named after has faded into history, their connection to the present severed by the winds of time.

Eventually, a generation or two later, we’ll see the name and say, “Huh. Wonder who that guy was?”

That makes it important to occasionally take a minute to educate ourselves on why they were important enough to leave a legacy. This weekend, the Stamm Family Invitational in Memory Alan Ebersole — the Vicksburg Swim Association’s annual club team meet at City Pool — gives us an opportunity to do just that.

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The Stamms are often regarded as the “first family” of Vicksburg swimming. Jack and Laurin Stamm became heavily involved in the local team in the 1960s when their youngest child, Carter, was 6 years old.

They had five children — Carter, Story, Lauri, Craig and Maggie — who were all accomplished swimmers. Several of them went on to coach, and they in turn had children who followed in their wake as swimmers and coaches.
The other half of the meet’s name honors a young man whose life was cut tragically short.

Alan Ebersole was the oldest son of Story (Stamm) and Bruce Ebersole, and not only a great swimmer but a great young man.

Alan won the MHSAA championship in the 100 meter breastroke his senior year at St. Aloysius, was the salutatorian of the Class of 2003, and involved in a number of academic, social and civic organizations. He went on to attend Princeton University and was a member of its swim team. He was one of those young people who seemed on track to be a leader in the community.

Princeton’s swim team was on a trip to Florida on Halloween weekend 2004, a bonding and training trip ahead of the season that started the following week. Several team members went for a late-night swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Alan jumped in, hit his head on a submerged rock, and drowned.

The following week, hundreds of people waited in line for nearly two hours to console the family at Ebersole’s visitation. All of his Princeton teammates attended the services in Vicksburg.

And nearly two decades after his death, Ebersole’s legacy as a beloved friend, teammate and person lives on. Every year, more than a dozen teams come to Princeton’s DeNunzio Pool for the Big Al Invitational, a meet named in his honor.

The Big Al Trophy is also given to a male and female swimmer at the meet who demonstrate superior dedication to the sport of swimming and diving through inspiration to their teammates.

Here in his hometown, in 2005 the Vicksburg Swim Association renamed its River City Classic meet to honor both Ebersole and his family’s contributions. Every year, the first weekend in June gives us a reminder of a family that gave a lot to the city and one of its sons who was lost before he could continue that tradition.

All of their legacies, however, live on. Their names might be unfamiliar to some of the young swimmers competing in this event, but are definitely worth learning and remembering.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of 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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