‘Tis the season to be thankful! Sure, Christmas is around the corner, and we’re all equally excited for the lights, music and watching Will Ferrell’s “Elf” three times a week. But before moving on to all that jazz, we have to remember that giving thanks for the things we have is good for the soul. Without further ado, here are five things Southern Miss sports fans should remember to be grateful for while stuffing their faces with turkey and dressing.
5. The dynamic duo of Kylie Grandy and Sarah Bell
The two seniors were sought out from afar — one from San Antonio, Texas, and one from Rolesville, North Carolina — to lead the Southern Miss volleyball team with highly accomplished collegiate careers. As seniors, Grandy led the team with a remarkable total of 530 kills while Bell racked up 1,328 assists and became the program’s all-time record holder in that category this season.
The duo helped lead the Golden Eagles to their first victory over Western Kentucky since 1988 and a trip to the semifinals C-USA Tournament. Their commitment and service to the Southern Miss volleyball program created many terrific memories for fans of the team and raised the bar even higher for those who will succeed them.
4. The recent success of Southern Miss basketball.
The Southern Miss men’s basketball team is off to a tremendous start to the 2018 season with a 4-1 overall record, including the first road victory over SMU by a non-conference opponent in four years. The team is being led by elite guard play from Oklahoma State transfer Tyree Griffin and Cortez Edwards, who recently surpassed the 1,000 career points mark. The program is also inching closer to the end of an NCAA-imposed probation period that was implemented in 2016. This season, Doc Sadler and his team are showing signs of revival and look to be ready for a competitive season. Thank goodness for perseverance and good times ahead for fans at Reed Green Coliseum.
3. New heights for Southern Miss soccer.
The 2018 Southern Miss women’s soccer team had its most successful season in program history this fall, posting a 13-6-1 record. The Golden Eagles also reached the postseason for the first time since 2007 and shocked everyone by making a run all the way to the conference title game, where they lost 2-1 to North Texas in double overtime.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kendell Mindnich also made history in 2018, as she posted seven shutout performances during the season, breaking the previous school record set by Anna Snyder way back in 2003. The success that head coach Mohammed El-Zare and his team achieved this season is one of many examples of Southern Miss athletic programs that have soared well beyond any and all expectations this year.
2. An experienced, young core on the football team.
Entering September, lack of veteran experience was a major area of concern for head coach Jay Hopson and the Southern Miss football team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. underclassmen were relied on early and often to play significant snaps and make large impacts in games. Three months later, those young guns look poised to be big-time playmakers in years to come. With redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham, redshirt sophomore receiver Quez Watkins, freshman running back Trivenskey Mosley and redshirt freshman Steven Anderson all set to return in 2019, the future of Southern Miss football looks bright.
1. Scott Berry
Ask nearly any Southern Miss sports fan what the best thing to happen to the athletics department in recent memory has been, and the majority of them will not hesitate to claim it is the promotion of Scott Berry to head coach of the baseball team in 2010. With an astounding record of 343-190-1, Berry has been named C-USA Coach of the Year three times, including each of the last two seasons.
In addition to winning that award, Berry has led the team to four regular-season conference titles and three conference tournament championships in just nine years at the helm. All Southern Miss fans should be thankful for Berry and his program’s consistently high level of performance year in and year out. The inevitable return of baseball season gives us all the confidence needed to endure any hardships or disappointments that may or may not occur during the fall.