Lady GreenJays Finish Another Successful Basketball Season Under the Leadership of Coach Kelvin Lester

The Lady GreenJays basketball team finished another successful season with Coach Kelvin Lester being named the Coach of the Year for the West Division by the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA). Makayla Transou was named to the 1st Team All TCCAA, and Kamille Clark was named to the 2nd Team All TCCAA.

The Lady GreenJays also were crowned TCCAA West Division Champions for the regular season for the first time since 1989. The team’s record was 12-5 in a season shortened by the COVID pandemic.

When Lester took over as head coach full-time in 2016, the woman’s program was struggling. The team had won only 31 games in the previous six seasons.

In his first season as full-time head coach, Lester led Jackson State to its first winning season since 1996. In another accomplishment, the team began the 2019-2020 season with a 13-2 record – winning the first nine games.

Since Lester became head coach, the Lady GreenJays has compiled a 69-51 record. The regular-season wins were the most wins since the 1980s. Not counting members of the 2021 class, 14 players have signed scholarships to play at universities. In the past six years, 12 players have been named to All-TCCAA teams, 13 players have been named to the All-TCCAA Academic teams, and three players have been named National Junior College Athletic Association All-Academic Team.

Lester began his career at Jackson State in 2013 as an assistant to both men’s and women’s basketball programs. He remained the men’s assistant coach through the 2017-2018 season while becoming the women’s basketball head coach in 2016. Lester also was the head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs during the 2018-2019 season.

Besides his coaching duties, Coach Lester serves on multiple committees on campus. He is also an adjunct Psychology and College to Career Navigation professor.

Coach Marvin Williams Inducted into TCCAA Hall of Fame

Basketball Coach Marvin Williams, one of the most successful coaches in the history of Jackson State Community College, was inducted into the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame on March 20.

“It is always an honor to be chosen for a Hall of Fame,” Williams said when he was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame four years ago.

During his six years of coaching women’s basketball at Jackson State from 1979 to 1985, Williams led the Lady Generals to a 103-20 record, as they won 83.7 percent of their games.

Under Williams, the women’s basketball team was undefeated in the Tennessee Junior College Athletic Association in the 1980-81 season. The next year, the team won every game against opponents in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi and finished third in the National Junior College tournament.

“We should have won the 1981 national championship,” Williams said. “We had the best team there, but we had to play four nights in a row.”

Williams completed his college coaching career at Austin Peay State University, where he helped lead the Governors to a conference championship in his first year.

A native of Hardeman County, Williams earned degrees from Bethel University and Freed Hardeman University. During his 21 years of coaching high school and 11 years at the college level, his teams won more than 900 games.

Among his many accomplishments, Coach Williams was a nominee for National Coach of the Year in 1978 and won two Tennessee Junior College Championships. Besides the TCCAA Hall of Fame, he was inducted into four other Halls of Fame: Bethel University in 1981, Freed-Hardeman University in 1989, Bolivar Central High School in 2006, and TSSAA in 2017

Jackson State Athletics provides update on start of basketball season and suspension of men’s basketball season

The Green Jays women’s basketball season began on Wednesday, January 27, with a 76-72 win at home against the Columbia State Chargers. While the women had a strong showing at the season opener, the men’s basketball team was absent from the usual two-game lineup.

The Jackson State athletics department notified teams within the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) that the men’s basketball season has been suspended due to the available number of students available to participate. According to Steve Cornelison, JSCC Director of Athletics, the suspension is due to several factors related to the pandemic. “Some student-athletes have opted not to play due to health concerns,” stated Cornelison. “While we take every precaution, we also understand the concerns.”

The JSCC athletic program follows health screening protocols defined by the NCAA tier model. This model requires basketball student-athletes to be tested for the coronavirus two times per week in addition to pre-game screening protocols.

Cornelison states that he is proud of the basketball teams’ accomplishments and looks forward to a time when participation in and attendance at games can return to normal. While spectators are currently not allowed at sporting events, games are being live-streamed on the women’s basketball Facebook page at @JSCCWomensBasketball. He encourages fans to support the women’s team by tuning in to the live-streamed games and sharing their efforts through social media.

For the 2019-2020 season, the men’s basketball program finished the season 21-5 overall, with a 14-4 regular-season record and a second-place finish in the TCCAA. The Green Jays also finished as TCCAA and NJCAA Region VII Tournament Runners-up. Kavion Hancock and Radarious Washington were voted First-Team All-TCCAA. Hancock was also honored as NJCAA First-Team All-American, TCCAA Player of the Year, and TCCAA Offensive Player of the Year. Coach Deron Hines was voted TCCAA Co-Coach of the Year.

Six JSCC athletes named NJCAA Academic All-Americans

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) recently announced student athletes who were ranked as NJCAA Academic All-Americans. Among the 143 students from the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) receiving this designation are 6 Jackson State Community College athletes.

The designations for the NJCAA All-Academic Awards are ranked by the following criteria:
NJCAA All-American First Team – 4.0 GPA
NJCAA All-American Second Team – 3.80-3.99 GPA
NJCAA All-American Third Team – 3.60-3.79 GPA

Congratulations to Jackson State Community College Green Jay NJCAA Academic All-Americans:

Grant Crihfield, Baseball, First Team
Taylor Sharpe, Basketball (W), Third Team
Megan Bates, Softball, Third Team
Caroline Lane, Softball, Third Team
Shayla Phillips, Softball, Third Team

Gracie Osbron Lives Her JuCo Dream

by Caroline Lane
(Caroline Lane is a mass communication major and a 2020 graduate of JSCC. She played softball with the Jackson State Green Jays and will continue her softball and collegiate careers in West Virginia.)

Gracie Osbron did not always see herself playing at a junior college. However, now she would not have it any other way.

When Osbron was 15 she committed to play softball at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, one of the most elite and successful softball programs in history. “I had always dreamt of going to play Division I softball,” she said.

However, after spending a year in Knoxville, Osbron started to have doubts about what she truly wanted. After this past fall semester, she transferred to Jackson State Community College.

“After the Super Regional against Florida is when it really hit me…I was way too happy to be done with the season,” Osbron said.

Tennessee softball lost the series in the final game two to one. Osbron was not regretful at the end of the season because she had performed well on the field. According to the National College Athletic Association, as a pure freshman, Osbron started in 37 out of the 44 games she played. Her batting average was .202 and she had a .969 fielding percentage.

Even with these numbers, something still did not sit right with Osbron. “I would not get out of bed, go to class, hang with friends, and my grades started to slip.” Osbron said. After taking some time and talking to people she trusted, she made up her mind that it was time to leave. Osbron entered the transfer portal. So, what made her pick a junior college?

Before her first year in Knoxville, Osbron suffered a gruesome leg injury. It gave her problems throughout the season. Since being at Jackson State she feels like she gets more time to recover. “I feel so much better physically and mentally on the field,” Osbron said. Getting more time to recover has given her the chance to heal in all aspects of her life.

One of the main reasons Osbron decided to transfer to a smaller school was because she felt like she already had the “big school” experience. Spending time with her family, friends and having time for herself are just a few of the things Osbron gets to enjoy more since moving to Jackson. “I have really seen a change in myself. I feel 100 times better and happier with myself. The growth I have seen from myself in such a short period of time is amazing,” Osbron said. It was not on the field, but when she was eating in her apartment with her friends, that it really hit her how happy she was with her new life.

Being a Division 1 transfer can bring a lot of talk in the softball community. When word got around about Gracie Osbron transferring to a junior college, many people thought it was because she got in trouble in Knoxville. That was not the case, though. She felt that Jackson was her best option.

“People are always going to talk, but I knew I had to put my head down and focus on this season,” Osbron said. If you ask Jackson State softball head coach, Taylor Moore, that is exactly what Osbron did. “Gracie is a relentless player with lots of passion for the game,” Moore said. Osbron came out hot for Jackson and helped the team out tremendously. Coming from a DI school, “she brought a tempo, leadership and attitude that was needed this season to give us that edge,” Moore said. Before the season was cut short, the National Junior College Athletic Association showed Osbron hitting .400, and she was second in the nation with six triples.

Relationships are a major priority to Osbron, so the connection she has with her teammates is extremely important to her. Since playing for Jackson, Osbron has quickly developed a strong relationship with her team. “The biggest difference for me has been that I felt more trusted on the field by my coach and teammates,” Osbron said. While she said she loved her teammates in Knoxville, she felt an instant connection with every player at Jackson and never felt like the “new kid” or left out.

Lights, cameras, sold-out crowds, and autographs are something every young athlete dreams about. While only some get to live out that dream, others may find joy in something a little less flashy. Dreams come in different shapes and sizes. Gracie Osbron’s came in the form of a junior college while falling back in love with the game of softball.

Osbron gets ready to take third base in the Green Jays’ home opener against Cleveland State

With the season being taken away by the coronavirus, Osbron has decided to come back and play at Jackson State for one more year. “Division I all the way to a junior college. It does not matter. We all have the same love, passion and desire for the game, and I can say that from experience. At the end of the day it does not matter as long as you love what you are doing,” Osbron said.

NJCAA cancels spring athletics competitions

According to a message from NJCAA president and CEO Dr. Christopher Park, all upcoming basketball championships and spring competitions have been canceled beginning immediately.

The decision was made following the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The move is an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Park stated that the NJCAA had “exhausted all possible avenues” to postpone competitions but the need to cancel had become eminent.

Park went on to say that no student-athlete in spring sports at a member institution would be charged a year of participation and would remain eligible for next year. The NJCAA Eligibility Committee will meet Thursday, March 19 to review the possibility of expanding letters of intent for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Jackson State Names Michael Winders as Head Baseball Coach

Jackson State’s own Michael Winders has been named as the new head baseball coach of the Green Jays for the 2019-2020 season. Winders, a former Jackson State baseball team member, served as the baseball team catching coach from 2005-2008, and has been the head softball coach since 2008, adding women’s basketball coach to his resume from 2011 to 2016.

Winders has won over 200 games in his career and set the single-season wins record in 2016 at 41 wins. As catching coach in 2005, he notably worked with Luis Martinez, who would later be drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2007.

“We are very excited that Coach Winders will be leading our baseball program,” says Jackson State athletic director Steve Cornelison. “He excelled as a player and as our softball coach, and he will bring the same level of intensity and dedication in his new role.”

Winders graduated from Hamilton High School in 2000 after winning the Mississippi 1A state Championships in 1997 and 1999. He began his collegiate playing career from 2001 to 2002 at Jackson State and was selected to the All TCCAA Team his first year. Winders later played baseball at Lambuth University from 2003 to 2004. He currently lives in Jackson with his wife and two sons.

Cornelison says the search for a new head softball coach will begin immediately.

Green Jays Head Baseball Coach to Leave Jackson State

Jackson State’s athletic department announced this week that head baseball coach, Tyson Malik, will be leaving the college ahead of next season to pursue a career opportunity near his hometown of Orlando, Florida. Malik served as head coach for the last seven seasons and as an assistant coach for four seasons before that.

“Coach Malik has done a great job with our baseball program and while we hate to lose him, we are excited for what the future holds for him and his family,” said Jackson State athletic director Steve Cornelison. “Regardless of where he is, Tyson will always be a part of the Green Jays family.”

During his tenure at Jackson State, Malik had a career record of 224-146 (.605 winning percentage). He coached 67 players who signed with four-year colleges and universities to continue their college careers, including 2013 alum Wes Parsons, who made his major league debut as a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves in 2018. During his final season with Jackson State, Malik led the Green Jays to a 33-22 record and a runner-up finish in the NJCAA Region VII tournament.

“I have been very fortunate to work with a great staff in this department and have made some lifelong friends in my years here,” said Malik, who expressed gratitude for his colleagues and the players he coached, crediting them for the evolution of his career. “It is hard to put into words how much this place and the people I have met mean to me. I wish Jackson State the best of luck in the future.”

Four Green Jays earn Academic All-American honor

Four Jackson State student-athletes have earned the Academic All-American honors by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for their outstanding work in the classroom. The following Jackson State Green Jays were named third-team awards:

  • Gracie Emerson – softball team – 3.68 GPA
  • Jacob Langham – baseball team – 3.75 GPA
  • Macy Muirhead – softball team – 3.73 GPA
  • Marissa Turrentine – softball team – 3.75 GPA

Congratulations to all! Go Green Jays!

Fuller, TCCAA Hall of Fame inductee, honored on home court

Paula Fuller, who played basketball at Jackson State from 1979 to 1981 and later coached the Lady Generals, was elected to the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Fuller was honored at a ceremony in the Jackson State Gymnasium on Feb. 23. The event was between the women’s and men’s basketball games.

“It was a total surprise,” Fuller said of learning about her election to the hall of fame. “It’s an awesome honor. You play ball all your life that you’re able to, and you do it because you have a love of the game. But you don’t think about your accomplishments, and being noticed for your play; it’s a tremendous honor.”

Fuller led the Lady Generals to a national third-place finish in 1981. She went on to Memphis State University and helped the Lady Tigers reach the Sweet 16 in the 1982 NCAA women’s basketball tournament. In 1983, Fuller and the Lady Tigers finished runner-up in the National Women’s Invitational Tournament.

As a player, she said she enjoyed traveling and experiencing different cultures. She also enjoyed the camaraderie with her teammates.

“The experience was extremely valuable, and the relationships that were established were ones that were lifelong,” she said.

After her playing days, she eventually returned to Jackson State and coached the Lady Generals. It was a different experience being on the other side of the ball she said, and she enjoyed coaching the players and watching as they matured into college student-athletes.

“Helping them understand what it means to be a team and seeing them exemplify the same attitude on and off the court was always rewarding,” she said.