Sports column: A year full of Athletes of the Week

Published 3:50 am Sunday, June 2, 2024

There’s an old picture that pops up in my Facebook feed from time to time, snapped by local photographer Paul Ingram at a football game from 10 or 15 years ago.

In it, I’m sitting cross-legged on a bench with a notebook in my lap, a pen in my right hand and a calculator in my left, obsessively adding up stats at halftime. Behind me, a couple of cheerleaders are making faces and giving me bunny ears.
It makes me look like either a huge dork or a man so dedicated to his craft that he’s able to block out all distractions. I’ve never quite figured out which.

I do know I am a man obsessed with stats, though, which brings us to the point of this rambling intro. Another “season” of The Vicksburg Post’s Athlete of the Week contest has concluded, and the stats show that our readers have once again helped make it a huge success.

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We crowned 32 winners in 34 weeks — Porter’s Chapel Academy’s John Wyatt Massey and St. Aloysius’ Anthony McCloud were both two-time winners — and averaged nearly 2,300 votes per week.

A change in our software after New Year’s allowed people to vote more often — unlimited times, rather than once per hour — and they did. In the 2023 portion of the 2023-24 contest we averaged 1,281 votes per week. During 2024 that number more than doubled to 3,164.

A total of 75,571 votes were cast, nearly triple the roughly 27,500 from last year.

We crowned winners from six high schools — all four in Warren County, as well as Tallulah Academy, Sharkey-Issaquena Academy and the Vicksburg Swim Association — and eight sports.

Football had the most winners, with nine, followed by basketball and soccer with five each. Track and field, tennis and baseball had three winners apiece, while volleyball, swimming and softball all had two.

Massey and McCloud were joined in the two-time winners club by Warren Central’s Maddox Lynch. He won for baseball in April of this year, and for football in September 2022.

When we pick the four nominees to vote on each week, we strive to avoid having the same faces dominate the contest each week and we had a large cast this year. Although 24 athletes received more than one weekly nomination, a total of 100 were nominated at least once.

Porter’s Chapel Academy basketball and track star Jae’la Smith led the way with five nominations. St. Aloysius’ Samantha Edwards had four for her performances during the cross country, soccer and track seasons, and PCA’s Massey (football and baseball) had four as well.

By any statistic, it seems The Athlete of the Week contest has become one of The Vicksburg Post’s more popular features. We’d like to thank you, our readers, for making it that, and to congratulate all of the nominees and winners for their success.

It gets a little difficult to find four local nominees each week when the high school seasons conclude, so the Athlete of the Week contest has gone into a summer slumber for a couple of months. It’ll return in August for Year 3.

We’ll look forward to bringing to you, and to crunching more numbers and stats to recognize the best of Warren County’s best.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

• Aug. 27 – Eric Collins Jr., Warren Central football
• Sept. 3 – Conley Johnston, Porter’s Chapel football
• Sept. 10 – Melissa Herrle, Warren Central volleyball
• Sept. 17 – Cedrick Blackmore, Vicksburg High football
• Sept. 24 – Avery Greer, Warren Central swimming

• Oct. 1 – Tabreia Davis, Warren Central volleyball
• Oct. 8 – Taylor Labarre, Porter’s Chapel football
• Oct. 15 – John Wyatt Massey, Porter’s Chapel football
• Oct. 22 – Thomas Azlin, Porter’s Chapel football
• Oct. 29 – Brayson Morson, Tallulah Academy football

• Nov. 5 – John Wyatt Massey, Porter’s Chapel football
• Nov. 12 – Addison Billings, Vicksburg Swim Association
• Nov. 19 – Gary Jackson, Sharkey-Issaquena Academy football
• Nov. 26 – Jaylin Jackson, Vicksburg High basketball

• Dec. 3 – Caleb Tucker, St. Aloysius soccer
• Dec. 10 – Anthony McCloud, St. Aloysius basketball
• Dec. 17 – Corbin Burroughs, St. Aloysius soccer

• Jan. 14 – Rachel Opperman, Warren Central soccer
• Jan. 21 – Jacob Porter, Warren Central soccer
• Jan. 28 – Anthony McCloud, St. Aloysius basketball

• Feb. 4 – Davian Williams, Vicksburg High basketball
• Feb. 11 – Allie Mason, Warren Central soccer
• Feb. 18 – Kameryn Bailey, Vicksburg High basketball
• Feb. 25 – Jordan Grace, Vicksburg High softball

• March 3 – Braylon Green, Vicksburg High baseball
• March 10 – Lilli Feibelman, Warren Central tennis
• March 17 – Madison Pant, Warren Central softball
• March 24 – Shaniyah Walker, Vicksburg High track
• March 31 – Conner Watkins, Warren Central baseball

• April 7 – Carrie Wood, St. Aloysius tennis
• April 14 – Kennedy Mullins, Vicksburg High tennis
• April 21 – Rodrianna Hall, Vicksburg High track
• April 28 – Maddox Lynch, Warren Central baseball

• May 5 – Megan Theriot, St. Aloysius track

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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