Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Sports Hall of Fame continues to grow.
Northeast enshrined its third class of former athletes and coaches during Homecoming 2010 activities on Saturday, October 16 at the Booneville-based college.
Joining the ranks of the Hall of Fame include former Tiger football and baseball player Mike Grier, former Tiger basketball player Jack Martin, former Lady Tiger basketball players Kunshinge Sorrell Howard and Phyllis Stafford Dilworth and former football and softball coach and athletic director David Carnell.
This year’s five inductees push the number of former athletes, coaches and contributors to 20 since the Northeast Sports Hall of Fame was founded three years ago.
• Grier was a multi-sport athlete for the Tigers clocking time on the gridiron in 1968 and 1969 before flipping over to the baseball diamond in 1969 and 1970.
While on the gridiron for the Tigers, Grier led the Tigers and the North Division in interceptions by picking off eight passes and was named to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ (MACJC) All-State Team in 1969. During that year, Grier finished second on the team in total tackles.
During his first year at Northeast, Grier was a first-team member of the All-North Half team in 1968.
After starring on the gridiron of two year, Grier turned his attention to baseball where the Selmer, Tenn., native continued his success leading the Tiger baseball team in home runs in both years.
Grier’s final year with the Tigers saw him led the Tigers to a runner-up finish in the MACJC State Tournament as part of the team. Following his time at Northeast, Grier headed to Eastern Illinois University from 1970-72 and set a then-school record for career interceptions with 14. Grier’s senior season with Eastern Illinois turned out to be his best when the defensive back was named to the first team all-conference defensive team and was named a first-team All-American for small colleges in 1972.
Grier’s 1972 season continues to be in the record books for Eastern Illinois as he finished second in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with 11 interceptions — and set a season record at Eastern Illinois, which stands today. Grier’s 11 interceptions in a season are four more than any other Eastern Illinois player has been able to record in a season.
• Martin’s career at Northeast was broken by his obligation to the war effort but Martin did not let a 13-month tour in the Republic of South Korea stop his athletic accomplishments.
During both his years at Northeast, Martin carried the Northeast Tiger basketball team to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Basketball Tournament.
Martin, who was known for his defensive prowess on the hardwood, ended up guarding the opposing team’s best player. During his first year at Northeast, Martin teamed with Charles ‘Doodle’ Floyd — who is a charter member of the Northeast Sports Hall of Fame — and carried the Tiger basketball team to a runner-up finish in the national tournament.
In 1950-51, Martin led the Tigers to Hutchinson, Kan., before Northeast dropped the championship game to Los Angeles College of California 67-63.
Martin’s charisma followed him back to Northeast following his break from the academic environment for the war effort. Martin was selected at Mr. Northeast Mississippi Junior College for 1953-54 even after missing the previous year as part of the United States Army.
Following his time at Northeast, Martin joined up with The Whiskered Wizards, a semi-professional traveling basketball team, that traversed the southern United States playing against other independent basketball teams.
• Sorrell made a name for herself on the hardwood in Bonner Arnold Coliseum from 1984-86 and carried the Lady Tigers’ basketball team to the national championship game in 1986.
During her time under Northeast women’s basketball coach Ricky Ford, Sorrell was named to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State teams in both seasons with the Lady Tigers and pulled off the rare double by being named to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Region XXIII team in both years at Northeast as well.
During her sophomore season, Sorrell helped lead the Lady Tiger basketball team to the national basketball tournament and collected first-team All-American honors for her final season with the Lady Tigers.
During the 1985-86 season, Sorrell and the Lady Tigers dropped only one game all season and scorched the record books for a 31-0 season before facing off against Odessa, Texas in the national championship game.
Following her time at Northeast, Sorrell took her talents to Mississippi State University where she was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team both years — 1987-88 and 1988-89.
Sorrell’s final year with the Lady Bulldogs saw the former Northeast Lady Tiger lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 20.7 points per game with 662 points in 32 games.
Despite only playing two seasons for the Lady Bulldogs, Sorrell amassed 1,292 points (20.8 points per game) — good enough for eight all-time on the Lady Bulldog scoring charts. All seven Lady Bulldogs ahead of Sorrell on the list played for four seasons at Mississippi State.
Sorrell was also only one of two two-year players at Mississippi State to break the 1,000-point plateau. Mary Boatwright, a Lady Bulldog from 1979-81, amassed 1,177 points during her career.
• Stafford joined the Northeast Lady Tiger basketball team in Kunshinge Sorrell’s final year with the Lady Tigers but the duo made an impact on the basketball world.
Stafford, who was a member of the Lady Tiger basketball team from 1985-87, helped lead Northeast to the national tournament in both her years in Booneville.
During her freshman season, Stafford and the Lady Tigers dropped only one game all season and posted a 31-0 record heading into the national championship game against Odessa, Texas in 1986.
Stafford bested her freshman year one season later when the Lady Tigers went undefeated — 34-0 — en route to the 1987 national championship. Stafford made sure of the return trip to the national tournament when the forward broke out for 31 points and 14 rebounds in the Region XXIII championship game in Clinton against Utica (Hinds) in earning the return trip to the national tournament.
During her two years at Northeast, Stafford amassed a 65-1 record on the hardwood and was named to the MACJC All-State and NJCAA Region XXIII teams both years at Northeast. Stafford’s sophomore season at Northeast saw her selected as a first-team All-American by the NJCAA.
Northeast swept through the regular season during Stafford’s sophomore year undefeated and knocked off Northwest Mississippi Community College 80-78 for the MACJC State Championship and then swept through the Region XXIII tournament before heading to Senatobia for the NJCAA National Basketball Tournament.
Northeast made good on its return trip as the Lady Tigers won four straight games in the Division I women’s national tournament — including the national championship game when Northeast upended St. Gregory’s in the national championship game 68-64.
Following her time at Northeast, Stafford took her talents to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) where she was named to the coaches’ All-Southeastern Conference second team in 1989.
• Carnell’s dedication to Northeast Mississippi Community College spans nearly five decades. Carnell originally came to the college in 1972 as a member of the Northeast Mississippi Junior College football coaching staff but the former athletic director left his mark in a totally different sport when guided Northeast’s transition from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball at the turn of the century and had the Lady Tigers in the national tournament within three years.
Carnell’s run on the gridiron at Northeast came after the long-time coach helped found the program at Biggersville High School and served as the high school’s first football coach. Carnell was an assistant football coach for 10 years — 1972-82 before taking over the reins of the program from W.B. “Bill” Ward in 1983. Carnell won two of his first four games including victories over Holmes (15-7) and Coahoma (45-0) as the Tigers went on to finish the 1983 season as the North Division runner-ups.
After three years at the helm, Carnell gave up the head-coaching role and returned to be an assistant coach for the Tiger football team until 1996 when he dedicated his focus to softball.
Carnell resurrected the Northeast softball program in 1993 after an almost 10-year hiatus away from competition and posted a 17-16 record during the Northeast’s first year back in slow-pitch competition and started a run to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA)
Region XXIII Tournament that would stretch through the transition to fast-pitch competition and until his retirement in 2005.
During Carnell’s years, Northeast was the only school in Mississippi to boast a 13-year run in the Region XXIII Tournament – covering both slow- and fast-pitch softball – 1994-2006.
Carnell replaced Ward once again in 1996 when the veteran coach took over the role of athletic director for Northeast Mississippi Community College and held the position while coaching softball until his retirement in 2005-06.
During his time on the slow-pitch diamond, Carnell led the Northeast Lady Tiger softball team to four straight North Division runner-up finishes — 1994-98 — before finally breaking through as the North Division champion in 1999. Carnell led the Lady Tigers to seven straight Region XXIII tournaments before the college switched to fast-pitch competition in 2001.
Carnell and the Lady Tigers did not miss a note with the switch staking a 28-12 record during their first year in fast-pitch competition, were co-North Division champions, and placed third in the state/region tournament. During the 2000-01 season, Northeast was ranked as high as fifth in the nation twice.
Carnell continued to fine-tune the Northeast fast-pitch softball team with five straight North Division championships –2001-05 — and saw his team finish as the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ state runners-up three straight years from 2003-05.
Northeast’s crowning moment came in 2003 when the Lady Tigers qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Softball Championship after winning the Region XXIII championship.
Northeast came close to a return trip to the national tournament in Carnell’s final years at the helm finishing as the Region XXIII runner-up in 2004 and 2005. Carnell not only pushed his athletes on the diamond but demanded excellence in the classroom as well and was awarded as the NJCAA’s Academic Team of the year in 2000 — Northeast’s first year of fast-pitch competition — and was among the top academic teams in the country in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Carnell was named the Region XXIII Coach of the Year in 2003 and was honored as the MACJC Coach of the Year in 2005 and given the NJCAA’s Loyalty Award in 2005.
After retiring, Carnell returned as a part-time assistant coach to the softball program from 2006-08 before finally hanging up his cleats.
In total, Carnell recorded 301 wins against 223 losses during his time as head football and slow- and fast-pitch coach.
Northeast enshrines four into Sports Hall of Fame
Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Sports Hall of Fame continues to grow.
About Chris Elkins
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