Sports column: We have built it, and now they are coming

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, April 14, 2024

Over the past decade, major investments were made in Warren County to upgrade the area’s sports facilities.

A sports complex, Sports Force Parks, was finally constructed after years of stops and starts. Tennis courts and pickleball courts were built or expanded at Halls Ferry Park. A bond issue helped renovate gyms and fields in the Vicksburg Warren School District.

All of those investments were made with the idea of Vicksburg becoming a hub for big events, and throughout the month of April that vision is becoming a reality.

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

Sports Force Parks stays busy during the spring with not only its weekend travel baseball and softball tournaments, but as the site of about two dozen Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association baseball games a week.

The Miss Mississippi Corporation hosted a pickleball tournament last weekend at Halls Ferry Park that had more than 60 players from all over the state. It’ll host a tennis tournament this weekend that’s expected to pull in about 50 more.

Halls Ferry’s tennis courts are about to be the center of the high school tennis world. St. Aloysius, Vicksburg and Warren Central all played their district tournaments there this past week. Next week, the MAIS will play its Class 5A South State tournament there on Tuesday. Porter’s Chapel Academy’s district tournament is there on Wednesday.

The week after that, the Mississippi High School Activities Association moves in to play its Class 4A, 6A and 7A individual state tournaments April 22-24. Then the MAIS comes back on May 1 for its Class 2A state tournament.

Halls Ferry Park has become one of Mississippi’s top tennis venues, and it shows in the number of events that come there throughout the year — both at the high school and USTA levels. The City of Vicksburg’s tennis director, Rick Shields, has done an outstanding job of making it not just a great local asset but a statewide attraction.

The VWSD is also getting in on the action. Vicksburg High’s Memorial Stadium will host three track meets this week. VHS and Warren Central will compete in the MHSAA Region 2-6A meet on Thursday and turn the place over to Porter’s Chapel Academy for a couple of days.

PCA will hold its MAIS District 4-3A junior high meet there on Tuesday, and its varsity district meet on Friday.
PCA does not have its own home track, so it’s always nice to see cooperation between our local public and private schools. It’s also a nice showcase for our city as a whole.

Getting some of these facilities built or renovated has not been an easy process. Sports Force Parks took a couple of decades to finally become a reality. The high school tracks were part of a school bond issue that has seen plenty of complications and delays in getting work done.

But we built it, and they are coming. That was what this was all about. When we see the steady stream of buses coming in and out of the city on I-20, or visitors around town here for one of these big events, we should take some pride in being a destination for them.

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.

email author More by Ernest