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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.

2018 Games Registration Opens April 23

Get Ready for the 2018 Games!

ALERT TO ALL OF YOU ARCHERS! Registration for the Mississippi Youth Archery Championship is NOW OPEN! Click here to register.

With more sports than ever (including new offerings Arm Wrestling and Firefighter Challenge) the 2018 State Games of Mississippi looks to be the biggest year yet. Registration opens APRIL 23 for most sports. Youth Soccer registration opens May 1.

Last year’s games saw more than 6,000+ athletes in top competition. This year, along with Adult Soccer and Firefighter Challenger, Youth Baseball (non-sanctioned) will allow the best rec teams to compete. Want to read more? Click here.

Mark your calendars for April 23 when registration opens. And don’t forget to attend the 2018 Opening Ceremonies June 15, 2018, in Meridian, MS.

State Games Names 2017 Athletes of Year

State Games Names 2017 Athletes of the Year

MERIDIAN, MS — A young tennis player who beat cancer, a determined pickleball player and a sharp shooter have captured top honors as 2017 AT&T Athletes of the Year for the State Games of Mississippi. Sunny Logan (Steens), Ken Hall Barnett (Jackson) and Valerie Smith (Collinsville) will be recognized at the annual Athlete of the Year celebration this Saturday and will be torchbearers at the 2018 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 40 sports for the award. The nominated athletes — out of more than 6,000 who participated in 2017 — personify the ideals of the State Games movement, such as participation, sportsmanship, special attributes, achievements, efforts and positive attitudes.

Sunny Logan — 2017 Youth Athlete of the Year

Thirteen-year-old Sunny Logan was undefeated in the 2017 State Games — an attitude she brought to her battle with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymph nodes. Diagnosed at the age of 10, Sunny faced the disease head-on at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where breakthrough medicine has pushed survival rates to 90 percent for the type of cancer Logan suffered from. In 2017, Sunny was the G14 Sweet 16 Champion, and the G12/G14 Candy Classic Champion in both 2017 and 2017. Also in 2017, Sunny was the Girl Singles 4-A Champion.

She was featured on the Today Show for her courageous battle with cancer. On the show, she talked about meeting Maria Sharapova. “We had been talking about her all day,” Sunny told Matt Lauer live on Today. “I was hitting some serves and I turn around, and there she is — I was just speechless. I did not know what to do!”

Ken Hall Barnett — 2017 Male Athlete of the Year

Financial consultant Ken Hall Barnett is a big fan of pickleball, which was a new sport at the State Games this year. “”I played in the Mid-South Regional at the University of Louisiana and won a silver medal in the Men’s Doubles for 60+. My doubles partner and I spearheaded the effort to bring pickleball to the Country Club of Jackson — and we now have more than 50 members of our club playing.”

Ken Hall entered the 60 & Over Men’s Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles at this year’s State Games, and won in all events. “I played tennis for a long time,” he said, “and now really enjoy pickleball.” Ken Hall has been in the investment industry for 35 years, and is married to Cherri Barnett, a long-time teacher and director of Ballet MS.

Valerie Smith — 2017 Female Athlete of the Year

Valerie Smith is handy with guns — in fact, she entered .22 Precision Long Rifle, 3 Gun Challenge and Pistol events and was the overall top shooter and High Lady in all events. Valerie has been in the sport for nine years and began shooting to spend more time with her husband. And now shooting is her passion. “It is important for beginners to learn the heart of the sport,” she said. She mentors younger shooters at Battlefield Shooting Range in Collinsville. A Registered Nurse, Valerie volunteers with Relay for Life with East Mississippi State Hospital.

In a male-dominated sport, she really stands out, because she is always looking to top her last score. She was the 2017 Mississippi 3 Gun Nation State Champion High Lady. Valerie is also a firearm instructor for concealed carry courses and to receive enhanced carry endorsement.

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 2017 Athletes of the Year will have the honor of lighting the torch at the 2018 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: AT&T, BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Pearl River Resort, Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, 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.

 

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Large Turnout for 2017 Pumpkin Run

The 2017 Pumpkin Run sponsored by State Games of Mississippi and Structural Steel Services had a large turnout on a perfect day for running. More than 75 participants gathered at Bonita Lakes for the event, many in costumes.

The Male Overall Winner was Ezekiel Hutchinson, age 16, with a time of 20:14 and the Female Overall Winner was Emily Martelli, age 32, with a time of 22:31.6. For a full list of winners, go to the Pumpkin Run page on this website and click “results.”

Pumpkin Run Children’s Costume Contest winners from left: Ginner Rigdon, Olivia Shirley and Taylor Ivey.

Pumpkin Run Adult Costume Contest winners, from left: Karen Pierce, Katy Nofire, Shawn Strait, Trisha Niswander and Ahna Niswander.

1M Pumpkin Run Male medalists, gold, silver and bronze from left: Preston Perret, Grey Snowden and Josh Wells.

1M Pumpkin Run Female medalists, gold, silver and bronze from left: Elizabeth Shirley, Olivia Shirley and Olivia Hayes.

 

 

 

Senate Honors 2016 AT&T Athletes of Year

 

AT SENATE — The Mississippi Senate issued proclamations for the 2016 State Games of Mississippi AT&T Athletes of the Year at the Capitol. From left are: C.D.Smith, AT&T; Megan Heggie, Meridian; Terry C. Burton, Senate President Pro Tempore; Evelyn Watkins, Meridian; and Krilecia Gianakos, Marketing Director for the State Games of Mississippi.

Senate Honors AT&T Athletes

Mississippi’s premier athletes were honored recently in Jackson with a presentation of State Senate resolutions commending their prowess and excellence in sports.

Honored were Megan Heggie, 12, of Meridian, the 2016 State Games of Mississippi AT&T Youth Athlete of the Year, who has participated in the State Games of Mississippi since 2012 and has won 17 gold medals in individual events and five in relay events. During the 2016 State Games, Heggie competed in the largest age group at the meet and placed in the top eight in all of her events. She also broke eight team records during the Games.

Runner and trainer Evelyn Watkins, 36, of Meridian, overcame surgeries on her feet to run marathons, triathlons and more and was named the 2016  Female Athlete of the Year. Watkins was first in her age group at the 2016 Games in the 5K Run, second overall in the female division and seventh overall in the event.

Brian Fleming, of Shubuta, 2016 State Games of Mississippi AT&T Male Athlete of the Year, hit 93 of 100 targets in his most recent outing at the 2016 State Games and won the gold medal. Sporting clays is a form of clay pigeon shooting, often described as “golf with a shotgun” because a typical course includes from 10-15 different shooting stations laid out over natural terrain. Fleming has been the Mississippi sporting clays champion four times and a Zone 6 champion, which encompasses Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. He won silver medals in the 2014 and 2015 State Games.

The 2016 Athletes of the Year visited the Capitol in Jackson. They will also have the honor of lighting the torch at the 2017 State Games of Mississippi opening ceremonies in Meridian June 16.

 

 

Be a Volunteer!

Be a Volunteer!

With more than 40 sports and 5,000 athletes, the State Games of Mississippi needs a lot of volunteers to keep things running smoothly.

Volunteers receive a FREE Volunteer T-Shirt, make fast friends and are honored at a banquet each year.

Do you have what it takes to be a State Game of Mississippi volunteer? If so, download the volunteer form and get it back to us. We look forward to working with YOU!

2017 VOLUNTEER FORM

New Sport – Pickleball – Makes 2017 Debut

State Games of Mississippi Adds Pickelball to Sport Lineup

BILOXI, MS — In a first for the State Games of Mississippi, pickleball — a sport that combines elemnts of badminton, tennis and table tennis — will make its debut May 5-6 in Biloxi at the A.J. Holloway Sports Complex.

Now in its 26th year, the State Games of Mississippi is a statewide sports fest featuring 40 sports for amateur athletes throughout the months of May and June. Pickleball, for two, three or four players, uses solid paddles to hit a ball similar to a whiffle ball over a net, with rules similar to those in tennis.

“We are excited to offer this sport to the State Games of Mississippi,” said Carolyn Smith, Executive Director. “We have a very enthusiastic pickelball comissioner, Ron Eaton, who persuaded us to add this very popular sport.”

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his friend Bill Bell. When faced one night with families who had “nothing to do,” the pair went to play badminton, but could not find rackets. With great improvising, they used ping-pong paddles, lowered the badminton net and used a whiffle ball. By 1967, the first pickleball court was built and by 1976, the sport was recognized in Tennis magazine as “America’s newest racquet sport.”

In the May competition this year, pickleball will feature divisions for all ages, including juniors, and will award gold, silver and bronze medals in each division. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles events will be offered. Registration is open now at www.stategamesofms.org and the entry fee of $30 includes a t-shirt and lunch.

The State Games of Mississippi celebrates each year with an Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies in Meridian. The Opening Ceremonies will be held Friday, June 16, complete with a parade of athletes, the lighting of the State Games torch and fireworks.

The State Games keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsor: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: AT&T, the City of Meridian, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Pearl River Resort, Visit Meridian/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Structural Steel Services Inc., The Meridian Star, WTOK-TV and WMDN/WGBC-TV. For more information on the Games, call 800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at www.stategamesofms.org.