On April 26, the Holmes Community College Alumni Association inducted five former athletes into the 2018 Sports Hall of Fame in Frank Branch Coliseum in Goodman. The inductees included: James William "Bill" Bailey, men's basketball; Ashley Howard, women's basketball; Jacob Peeler, football; Jason Russell, baseball and Terrance Sykes, football.
James William Bailey
Bailey, an Attala County native, is a 1963 Holmes grad whose love of basketball earned him a spot with the Bulldogs under coaches Jim Murrell and Jamie Howell.
"Playing basketball was a great part of my Holmes life," Bailey said.
While playing for the Bulldogs, he averaged 55 rebounds, scored almost 14 points and had a field goal percentage of 45 percent per game. In addition to succeeding in basketball, he was also voted Most Popular.
"I thought Holmes was a great fit for me as I graduated from a very small high school," Bailey said. "The friendships I made at Holmes were the highlight of my years."
Upon graduation, he transferred to the University of Mississippi and completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1975. Bailey continued his education at Georgetown University, earning a Master of Science in 1982.
Bailey has a unique story: During the gap between undergrad and graduate school, he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years and eight months. Serving as a Naval Officer for 25 years, he was awarded two silver stars, two distinguished flying crosses and two purple hearts. He retired as a Commander.
Among his other accomplishments, he served as vice principal of a high school in Anderson, South Carolina, for 17 years. In 2015, Holmes honored Bailey as Distinguished Service Award recipient of the year. Now retired, he lives in Anderson, South Carolina with his wife, Suzanne Bailey of Washington, D.C. They have three children: James, Anne and John.
Ashley Howard had no shortage of success when she played for the Holmes Community College Lady Bulldogs under Coach Chanda Rigby from 2004-2005. She was part of the All-Region Team and the All-State Team in 2004, and went on to be Co-MVP for the MACJC All-Star Game in 2005.
Howard's love of basketball began as a child and grew with each passing year.
"I love basketball because I grew up playing in our backyard with my mother," Howard said.
Prior to attending Holmes, Howard was a basketball star at Durant High School and also at Tuskegee University in Alabama. In high school, she was All-South State, All-District and on the All-Tournament Team from 1999-2003. She was also part of the Clarion Ledger girls' basketball "Dandy Dozen," as chosen by the Clarion Ledger in consultation with coaches and basketball minds around the state.
Upon graduation from Durant H.S., Howard attended Tuskegee in 2003 and was part of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) All-Tournament Team. She decided to transfer to Holmes, however, because her father was in the military and she wanted to be close to her family when he was home.
Playing basketball at Holmes was a great experience for her. Working hard on and off the court allowed Howard to continue on to the University of Memphis in 2005. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UofM in 2007 followed by a Master of Science in Bioinformatics from Mississippi Valley State University in 2009.
Basketball for Howard is still a family activity; she plays today with her three girls.
"Basketball brings out the more confident me as it is what I know," Howard said.
Howard resides in her hometown of Durant with her four children: Hailey, 9; Harmoni, 7; Harley, 2 and Coi, 6 months. She has also returned to Holmes as a student and is enrolled in the Practical Nursing (PN) program at the Holmes Attala Center in Kosciusko.
Peeler, a graduate of Kosciusko High School, played football at Holmes under Coach Hugh Shurden for two seasons in 2002 and 2003.
Peeler played center and was on the 2002 State Championship team. He received other accolades, as well, including NJCAA All-American, NJCAA Academic All-American and JC Gridwire All-American.
Peeler said one of his favorite memories at Holmes was winning the State Championship as a freshman.
"We defeated Pearl River and Jones to win it all," he said.
Outside of football, Peeler was involved with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was a Holmes Ambassador.
Upon graduation from Holmes, he continued to play football at Louisiana Tech. He was on the starting lineup at Louisiana Tech, and earned his bachelor's in education in 2007. Peeler continued his studies at Mississippi State University, adding a master's in kinesiology to his resume.
Peeler and his wife, Tori, live in Oxford, where he is the wide receiver coach at the University of Mississippi. Prior to returning to his home state, he served as WR coach at the University of California.
Russell took a unique path to get to Holmes Community College: He graduated from Madison Ridgeland Academy in 2001 and was red shirted at Ole Miss to play baseball. After a year and half in Oxford, he decided to transfer to Holmes so he could go ahead and start playing.
Russell was a Holmes "Dirtbag" for Coach Kenny Dupont from 2003-2004. During his time at as a Bulldog, he played first base and was a DH. He has some hitting records that still stand today.
"Coach would make the team do anything it took to be able to play baseball," Russell said.
Russell recalls a rainy spring day and the field was soaked, since this was before the days of tarps.
"Coach Dupont gave everyone on the team a cup and the team scooped the water off of the field one cup full at a time until the field was dry enough to play ball," Russell said.
One of the most memorable games at Holmes for Russell was beating Meridian Community College in the State Championship tournament. After Holmes, Russell continued to play baseball at Delta State University for two more seasons.
"Baseball at Holmes allowed me to establish some lifelong friendships, many of which I keep up with today," Russell said.
Russell now works for his family business Russell Paving in Madison. While at Holmes Russell met his wife Amy Moore Russell, from Vaughan. They live in Madison and have two kids, Coleman and Charlie.
Sykes graduated from Grenada High School and headed to Goodman, excited to play football for the Holmes Community College Bulldogs. He played under Coach Hugh Shurden for the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
"Playing at Holmes was mostly a family thing as we did everything together," Sykes said.
During Sykes' time at Holmes, he played on the offensive line under Coach Andy Wood. He was part of two All-State teams.
"The work ethic I learned at Holmes helped me reach for the next level by focusing on techniques and fundamentals," Sykes said.
One of Sykes' fondest memories at Holmes was the football spring boot camp. The two-week workout session started each day with a 3 a.m. wakeup.
"The boot camp helped me prepare for each season both mentally and physically," Sykes said.
After Holmes, Sykes continued on to Louisiana Tech University where he excelled on the field and earned a B.A. in sociology. He received the Louisiana Tech University James Wayne Smith Award in 2000, which is awarded to the most valuable offensive lineman.
Continuing to follow his love of the game, Sykes played with the Cleveland Brown's practice squad from 2001-2002 then the Oakland Raider's practice squad from 2002-2003.
Sykes and his wife, Felicia Washington Sykes, reside in Shreveport, Louisiana, and have four children: Xavier, Haley, Jordan and London.
Prior to the 6 p.m. banquet and awards program, inductees enjoyed an informal welcoming reception at the president's home. Athletics Director Andy Wood presented each inductee with a framed sports photo from his or her days as a Bulldog. Afterward, inductees and their families enjoyed tours of campus and a musical performances by Connection! show choir until time for the banquet.
The new inductees have not only achieved athletic success, but prosperity in their careers, as well. Most importantly, they have served as esteemed ambassadors for the college, and Holmes is grateful to each inductee for that.
For more information about Holmes alumni events and the alumni association, contact Coordinator of Alumni Affairs Katherine Ellard at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (662) 472-9134.