VHS alum Knox takes over as school’s softball coach

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Briana Knox was excited to return to her alma mater, Vicksburg High School, for her first teaching job after college. She was still getting her feet under her when a familiar face suggested she should add another job title — softball coach.

“I didn’t know that Coach (Brian) Ellis had left. He came up to me at the convocation and was like, ‘Hey, there’s a position open,’”Knox said. “It all came down really fast.”

Knox put her name in and, at the August meeting of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees, was hired as Vicksburg High’s next softball coach.

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She’ll replace Brian Ellis, who left in May to take over Warren Central’s program. Knox graduated from VHS in 2015 and played for Ellis. An old team picture from that era hangs above a desk in Vicksburg High’s softball fieldhouse, and Knox said seeing it now stirred some emotions.

“I still get emotional a little bit, because who would’ve thought I’d be back here coaching the softball team that I was on once before? I’m pretty excited about it,” Knox said.

Knox was a centerfielder for the Missy Gators — as well as the senior class president — and went on to play for two years at Mississippi Delta Community College. When her playing career was over in 2017, she moved on to Jackson State to complete her education.

Knox graduated from Jackson State in 2022 and was hired to teach Algebra I at VHS earlier this year. The 26-year-old said she often watched sports with a coach’s eye and thought about trying it.

The search for the Missy Gators’ next coach lasted throughout the summer, which opened the door for Knox to get her shot.

“I did think about it, because you can see the game different being a player vs. being a coach. I can just point out what I need to know in order to tell somebody else what they need to do,” she said.

Taking over at the start of the school year will create some challenges for Knox. She said she’s still getting to know her players and their personalities, and while some players were active during the summer with travel teams the Missy Gators did not play any games.

She’s hoping that their cross training with other sports such as basketball and soccer will help with conditioning, and they can catch up on softball skills during the fall.

“Most of the girls are in other sports right now, and they have been working out with basketball and soccer. I’ve been staying on them making sure they’re getting their conditioning done,” Knox said.

As for her approach, Knox said she’s trying to stick to a successful formula that Ellis laid down. He led the Missy Gators to three consecutive region championships at the end of his tenure.

“I’m not trying to come in and change too much of what they’ve been doing. We still have to be disciplined with ourselves,” Knox said. “That’s going to be my No. 1 word — discipline. As long as you’re disciplined, you can win games.”

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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