Two Golden Eagle legends make HOF
|Jack Duggan, Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -A pair of Southern Miss trailblazers are set to be honored this weekend with their induction as part of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
Willie Heidelburg, the first African-American to play football at the Division I level in the state of Mississippi, and Kay James, who built the Southern Miss women’s basketball program by bringing it to great heights over her long, distinguished career, are two of six individuals being inducted. The other four include College Football Hall of Famers, Ole Miss tight end Wesley Walls and Millsaps defensive lineman Sean Brewer, as well as Jackie Sherrill, the winningest football coach in Mississippi State history, and former Alcorn State and NBA basketball great Larry Smith.
Heidelburg will be presented posthumously during the ceremony.
The 53rd annual BancorpSouth Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Induction takes place at the Jackson Convention Center (105 E. Pascagoula) with the reception starting at 5:30 p.m., and the banquet beginning at 7 p.m. As of Friday morning, a few tickets remain for the event. For more information on purchasing tickets, please call 601-982-8264.
Here are the career highlights of both Heidelburg and James: [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]• Willie Heidelburg: The late Heidelburg, a Lumberton native, is best remembered for his two-touchdown performance in Southern Miss' historic 30-14 victory over Ole Miss in 1970, but his impact on Mississippi college football was much larger. After two years of all-star play for Pearl River Junior College for former Golden Eagle player and assistant coach J.C. Arban, Heidelburg signed with Southern Miss and became the first African-American to play at a Mississippi Division I school. He stood only 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed but 143 pounds, but his quickness and speed made him an effective runner and kick returner. Later, Heidelburg became a long-time coach at both Murrah High and Belhaven. He died in October of 2013 at age 63
.• Kay James: James, who coached for 22 seasons at Southern Miss, is the all-time winningest coach in Lady Eagle history with 403 victories. In 27 seasons overall, James recorded 488 wins against 244 losses. She is one of 46 coaches with 400-plus victories in NCAA Division I history. She also ranks in the top 25 of all-time Division I coaches in victories, seasons coached and games coached. She guided the Lady Eagles to 10 postseason bids and is a member of Southern Miss' exclusive Legends Club. In 2012, James received the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her lifetime of service to women's basketball. Came to Southern Miss after five seasons at Berry College in Rome, Ga., where she posted an 85-30 record.Also at the banquet, former Mississippi Governor William Winter will receive the Rube Award for his lifetime contributions to sports in the state. The award will be given for the fifth time in honor of the late Michael Rubenstein, the long-time Jackson sportscaster and executive director of the MSHOF.