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Posts made in August 2018

Opening Ceremony Moves to May 31, 2019

State Games Announces Opening Ceremony Move

Having grown to nearly 6,000 participating athletes since it began 28 years ago, the State Games of Mississippi is moving its spectacular Opening Ceremony to May 31, 2019.

The change in date is a significant move. Since the inception of the games, the Opening Ceremony has always been held mid-June in Meridian in conjunction with the two-day youth soccer tournament, which attracts more than 130 teams, families and friends.

“When we started the games way back in 1991, we only had one weekend of sports and naturally, the Opening Ceremony was on the Friday before everything began,” said Hardy Graham Jr., president of the State Games Board of Directors. “Now we have sporting events in May and June, so it seemed natural to move the Opening Ceremony closer to the beginning of the games.”

The Opening Ceremony move to May 31 also meant rescheduling the popular Youth Soccer Tournament, now set for June 1-2 in Meridian.

“For many families from across Mississippi, the Opening Ceremony and the Youth Soccer Tournament are highlights of the summer. There is nothing so exciting as seeing the teams participate in the Parade of Athletes before they get into competition,” Graham said.

The Olympic-style Opening Ceremony held each year in Meridian is attended by more than 10,000 people and features the Parade of Athletes, the lighting of the State Games cauldron by the Rush Athletes of the Year and is capped off by a breathtaking firework show.

The Youth Soccer Tournament is such a highly anticipated part of the State Games that hotels within a 60-mile radius of Meridian are completely booked.

“We want to remind participants who have already made their reservations in the Meridian area to call their hotel and change the dates to May 31, June 1 and 2,” Graham said. “Area hotels have been informed of the change of date and are ready to move the reservations.”

With nearly 6,000 athletes competing, the State Games of Mississippi is the premier amateur sporting even in Mississippi. Last year the games featured 42 sports held throughout the state.

The State Games of Mississippi keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsors: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Pearl River Resort, Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Paul & Sherry Broadhead Foundation, Structural Steel, WTOK-TV, The Meridian Star and WMDN/WGBC-TV (The Meridian Family of Stations).

For more information on the Games, call 800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at www.stategamesofms.org.

 

2018 Rush Athletes of Year Named

From left: Scott Vincent with Rush, Ray Gildea, Megan Heggie and Kylie Joiner.

 

State Games Names 2018 Athletes of the Year

MERIDIAN, MS — A young swimmer who breaks records, a 65-year-old track and field competitor who has won more than 118 medals and a runner who brings home the gold have captured top honors as 2018 Rush Athletes of the Year for the State Games of Mississippi. Megan Heggie (Meridian), Ray Gildea (Madison) and Kylie Joiner (Decatur) will be recognized at the annual Athlete of the Year celebration this Saturday and will be torchbearers at the 2019 Opening Ceremony.

Based on the national program, the State Games of Mississippi established the annual “Athlete of the Year” award to recognize Mississippi’s amateur athletes. Coaches, officials, athletes, volunteers and spectators nominated one male and one female athlete from each of the 42 sports for the award. The nominated athletes — out of nearly 6,000 who participated in 2018 — personify the ideals of the State Games movement, such as participation, sportsmanship, special attributes, achievements, efforts and positive attitudes.

Megan Heggie — 2018 Youth Athlete of the Year

Fourteen-year-old Megan Heggie has broken or set many team records in her age group, as well as the open age group, having a time better than previous Mississippi Swim Association swimmers that are older. She has a total of 13 new records in the 13-14 girls age group, and has achieved a total of 17 top-five times in all of the different swim strokes.

She received the MSA Coaches’ Award in 2018 and was the first place High Point Winner of the swim season, scoring more than 1,000 points. She also won “Most Improved Female Swimmer,” for the team for the seventh year in a row. This award is given to the swimmer who cuts the most time off during the swim season at any meet.

Not only will she have the honor of running the torch at the 2019 State Games of Mississippi, Megan already had the honor to be a flag bearer for the State Games of America in 2017 at the Opening Ceremony in Grand Rapids, MI.

Ray Gildea— 2018 Male Athlete of the Year

For more than 27 years, Ray Gildea of Madison has been competing in track and field, road racing and marathon running. With more than 118 medals won in the State Games of Mississippi, Gildea has also competed in the Senior Olympics for the past 15 years and run 161 marathons.

“The challenge of sustaining a track season every year while in perpetual marathon training is hard, because of minor injuries,” said the 65-year-old. “In qualifying for the National Senior Games, I pulled a calf muscle and had to compete hurt the rest of the way. Two weeks later, I did recover sufficiently to earn two golds, a silver and a bronze in the USATF Southeast Regional Master’s Championships.”

Kylie Joiner — 2018 Female Athlete of the Year

Kylie Joiner of Decatur has participated in the State Games of Mississippi for 20 years, as a competitor for 20 and as a volunteer for 10. She has medaled in four sports — softball (gold), soccer (silver) 5K (gold) and trail run (gold).

A graduate of West Lauderdale High School, Kylie was a two-sport athlete as a youth — soccer (state finalist) and softball (State Champion). She holds a masters degree from Mississippi State University and undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is currently a CPA with the State of Mississippi Auditor’s Department.

State Games of Mississippi

The State Games of Mississippi kicks off with an Olympic-style Opening Ceremony each year in Meridian. All three of the 2018 Athletes of the Year will have the honor of lighting the torch at the 2019 Opening Ceremony. Events for athletes are held throughout the months of May and June in various locations around the state.

The State Games of Mississippi keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsors: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Pearl River Resort, Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Paul & Sherry Broadhead Foundation, Structural Steel, WTOK-TV, The Meridian Star and WMDN/WGBC-TV (The Meridian Family of Stations). For more information on the Games, call 800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at www.stategamesofms.org.