HomeOpinionOPINION: Hawk Nation has plenty to celebrate right now

OPINION: Hawk Nation has plenty to celebrate right now

One of the fun things about covering South Side this past basketball season has been watching the pride well up in the Hawk Nation with every win the Lady Hawks compiled this season.

While South Side is in the largest metropolitan area between Nashville and Memphis, the area south of the South Forked Deer River is able to maintain its sense of hometown pride.

While a lot of the attention the last couple of years in Jackson and Madison County has been a few miles north with the rebirth of Jackson-Central Merry and the movement of Madison Academic a few blocks west to the campus of University of Memphis at Lambuth, everyone on the south end of the city and county have simply gone about their business.

Both basketball teams made it to Murfreesboro a year ago and won a pair of games to come home with a trophy, but there was an admitted disappointment with the color of those trophies even though a pair of silver trophies for the front of the gym lobby is nothing to thumb a nose at.

While there’s been almost a revolving door at the top of Jackson-Madison County Schools for the majority of the existence of the consolidated school district, South Side’s administration has been the image of stability with very few personnel changes – if any – in the nearly decade-long tenure of Lady Hawk alumna Anita Tucker as principal at South Side.

And she followed Jimmy Arnold, who was principal for nearly two decades before he retiring.

The basketball programs under Arnold and Tucker have been stable as well. Lady Hawks head coach Brent McNeal just completed his 12th season in that role, and he’s still considered the newbie in the basketball offices since DaMonn Fuller has been leading South Side more than 20 years.

Both coaches are South Side alumni.

And the South Side alumni base is strong. That was obvious during homecoming in January when every shoutout to the alumni in the Hawks’ Nest that night during breaks in the action were met without fail with loud applause and cheers.

Alumni from past generations with graying hair were just as enthusiastic about their alma mater as the ones who look like they might’ve graduated last year.

South Side can claim a Super Bowl champion (Jabari Greer), a former Harlem Globetrotter (A.J. Merriweather), the Mayor of Jackson (Scott Conger), the Trustee of Madison County (Billy Burkhead), the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at PUMA Group (Michelle Marshall) in Boston, the head baseball coach at Purdue University (Greg Goff), Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Director Kim Tedford, a pair JMCSS Board members (Debbie Gaugh and Ken Newman) and at least two members of JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King’s leadership staff Ricky Catlett and Greg Hammond.

And then, anyone who’s been to a game in the Hawks’ Nest knows a group of fans who could be called the face of South Side alumni or the face of South Side basketball’s fan club.

They’re referred to as the “BTA Crew” by their friends. Basketball officials and some opposing coaches might have something more offensive for them the way they ride some of them over the course of a game.

McNeal said in a post with a group pic with them they’re not shy about giving him and the team criticism when it’s warranted and appreciation when appropriate.

Local media can talk of similar experiences with the group if they don’t agree with the coverage of the Hawks and Lady Hawks.

From Boston to Baton Rouge to Bemis to Beech Bluff, the Hawk Nation should be proud of what they’ve been able to witness in these past few months.

Will it continue next year? That speculation is a column for another day.

But Lady Hawks are flying higher than ever right now.

Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at brandon@jacksonpost.news. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.

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