Thomas D. Lee - Forest
His voice could be heard under the glare of Friday night lights in the fall, calling out the football plays of his beloved Bearcats. It is one of the many community services that Thomas D. (Tommy) Lee has provided.
Known affectionately by many people as Tommy Lee, he has kept the fans at Forest High School football games informed of the details to what they were witnessing on the playing field.
In 2019, Lee celebrated 50 years of calling the action from the press box which now bears his name.
“I love being a part of the school life and seeing the kids play, mature into young men and eventually grown men,” Lee said.
Lee has seen the Bearcats in state championship games and Battles for The Golden Chicken. He has also seen numerous players go on to college and professional football.
For his service, Lee is being honored with a lifetime achievement award with his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Upon the death of previous announcer Jim Moore in 1969, then-coach Ken Bramlett asked Lee to take the microphone.
“I had never announced before. L.O. Atkins introduced me as the announcer and in the 40-plus years, I have only missed three games. I just settled in and rolled with it,” Lee said in an interview in 2014.
“Since I am a former Bearcat, it has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life,” Lee said. His wife, Gail, would often sit in the press box with him.
In addition to his law practice, Lee serves as the legal counsel for the Forest Municipal School District, a post he has held since 1972.
Lee is the oldest of five children to the late Roy Noble Lee, Sr., and the late Sue Epting Lee. The family moved to Forest where they built a home in 1947.
Lee, an Eagle Scout, graduated from Forest High School and earned his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi College. He completed his law degree in 1968 at the University of Mississippi School of Law, followed by service with the Army National Guard.
He began practicing law in his family’s firm in June 1968 and this year will celebrate 52 years as an attorney. In addition to the school district, Lee has provided legal counsel to the City of Forest and has served as a Scott County prosecutor. He has held positions in multiple professional associations.
He has served as president of Ott and Lee Funeral Homes which have operations in Scott and Rankin counties.
In addition to sports, the law, and family, Lee has enjoyed the company of numerous dogs, loves fishing, and collecting Civil War antiques.
Rodney Stowers - Forest
In his 20 years, Rodney Sandrell Stowers led a happy and productive life, influencing and touching the lives of all whom he met. He excelled on the playing field of sports and of life through success in many activities.
Born on Sept. 16, 1971, in Jackson, he started his education as a first-grade honor student at Sebastopol Attendance Center before moving to Scott Central Attendance Center where he stayed from second grade through eighth grade.
However, it was at Forest High School where Stowers showed his skills on the football field in the ninth grade where he played offensive and defensive tackle and handled placekicking duties under Coach Jack French. Stowers helped to lead the Bearcats to a district championship and was named the team’s most valuable lineman and an all-district honoree.
His athletic skills were noticed across Central Mississippi as Stowers was selected to the Meridian Star All-West Offensive Team and he was a starter for the South Squad as defensive tackle in the 1987 Mississippi High School All-Star game.
Stowers also held school record at FHS in weightlifting in the Super Heavyweight Division in power clean. He was also a Central Mississippi Hall of Fame Athletic Scholar.
Stowers was also skilled in the classroom as a member of the WINGS program, a prestigious class for academically gifted students. He won sixth place in the state in individual future problem solving and his team placed in the top 10 in the state. He won the Presidential Academic Fitness Award and the U.S. Army Scholar Athlete Award. He was a member of the FHS band and Beta Club.
Stowers graduated from FHS at the age of 16 his junior year and received a football scholarship at Mississippi State University where he majored in general business administration. He was a member of the Bulldog football program for three years, playing at the nose tackle position and later moving to defensive end.
Stowers played in 26 games for the Bulldogs and was named to the freshman all-star teams chosen by The Sporting News and the Knoxville News-Sentinel in 1989. After playing in the Bulldogs’ upset win over 13th ranked Texas, Stowers was selected as the National Defensive Player of the Week by The Sporting News.
Stowers accepted Christ at an early age and joined the Midway M.B. Church where he was active in Sunday School and served on the Usher Board.
Stowers’ career was tragically cut short on Sept. 28, 1991, during a football game between Miss. State and the University of Florida in Orlando where he was playing at the defensive end/tackle position. Stowers died several days later from injuries sustained in the game.
Sandra Wade Freeman - Forest
Athletics has been a part of Sandra Wade Freeman’s life since she was old enough to play sports and she parlayed her skills and passion into great contributions in playing and education as well as mixing a strong Christian faith into her athletics.
Freeman was born in New Orleans but her family made their home in Forest where she played basketball for five years and participated on the track team for four years for the Bearcats. In junior high school, she traveled and played with the high school team as a seventh grader and as an eight grader. She played in an overall state game as an eighth grader in 1960.
In high school basketball, she continued as a starting pivot forward and lettered all five years. She helped Forest to win the 1964 state championship, finishing with a perfect 44-0 record. She scored 44 points in her final high school hoops game.
Freeman advanced to play for the Mississippi State College for Women (now known as Mississippi University for Women) where she made significant contributions, particularly for women in sports.
The school’s basketball program was not functioning upon her arrival but, with the help of a few friends, she helped to get intercollegiate basketball reinstated at the W starting with the 1965-66 season. She also served as an instructor at the Gwen White Basketball Camp for girls.
While in college, Freeman was instrumental in starting the first women’s college charter club of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for Women in America. She was named Captain of the first FCA Club for Women in America. She also served as chairman of the Women’s International Festival on campus in 1967.
Freeman also played three years of volleyball and became a nationally rated volleyball official.
She finished college with a degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1968.
Freeman organized the first gymnastics classes for the YMCA in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1969. She served as pre-school director at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton through much of the 1970s. In 1978, she helped organize the Clinton Gymnastics Association.
Through life developments, Freeman found her way away from Mississippi where, in Columbus, Georgia, she served on the advisory board for founding the Ronald McDonald House in 1994. She continues to serve as a volunteer where she has done so for 26 years at the House.
Freeman has also served as a pre-school director of Sunday School and church at Calvary Baptist Church, 1994-2001. She then moved to Berean Covenant Church where she stayed until 2008 as the pre-school director.
She served as the physical fitness instructor at Curves Exercise Programs for Women from 2002 to 2010. She was awarded the Tri-Community Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012 which covers Columbus and Ft. Benning In Georgia and Phenix City in Alabama.
Since 2014, Freeman has continued serving as co-director of the Berean Homekeepers while teaching young women about physical and relationship skills.
Freeman, whose brother Chuck Wade is a Scott County Sports Hall of Fame member, now resides in Ellerslie, Ga.
Ken Bramlett - Forest
Ken Bramlett served six educational institutions in Mississippi where he achieved success as a coach and athletic director leading programs to high standards of excellence.
Bramlett was well known to Bearcats after he came to Forest High School in 1957 where he coached until 1961. He returned in 1966, leading the Bearcat athletic programs until 1970. During his two stints as head football coach combined with service as athletic director, Bramlett guided his teams to two Little Dixie Conference titles in 1959 and 1969.
Bramlett was a 1952 graduate of Jefferson High School in Jefferson, Texas, where he played football, baseball, and basketball. He earned an Associate’s degree at Perkinston Junior College, now known as Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he played football and baseball.
Bramlett earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi College in 1956, where he also played football and baseball. He stayed at Mississippi College to earn a Master of Education in 1959. He completed post-graduate studies in 1976 in higher education at the University of Mississippi.
Bramlett started his coaching career at Clinton High School where he worked from 1956-57 teaching and coaching football. Then, after his first coaching stop in Forest, Bramlett took positions as head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Mississippi College. He returned to the high school ranks at Prentiss High School in 1963 as a teacher and head football coach before returning to Forest for his second stop.
Bramlett’s final tour of duty as a coach came at Northwest Mississippi Community College where, from 1970-76, he served as athletic director, head football coach, and dean of student personnel.
After working as a real estate broker and builder in Brandon from 1976-81, Bramlett returned to the education profession working for the Rankin County School District in two different stints of employment. His positions included assistant superintendent supervising athletics, transportation, maintenance, food service, 16th Section matters, finance and other support services. During his second time with Rankin’s school district, Bramlett served as a consultant for construction and renovation of bond issue affairs, which he continued to do later for a local architect firm. He also served as a consultant for the Mississippi Department of Education.
Overall, Bramlett led his high school and junior college teams to a record of 92 wins, 69 losses, and four ties. He was a two-time Little Dixie Conference Coach of the Year and served as president of the conference and as a member of the Mississippi Association of Coaches Board of Directors.
A past member of the Jackson Touchdown Club, Bramlett was a lifetime supporter of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2019 into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Mississippi College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
In addition to other honors and professional memberships, Bramlett’s community involvement included membership as a Mason and a Rotarian. He was a Deacon Emeritus at the Brandon Presbyterian Church and a past Deacon at the Prentiss Baptist Church and Fannin Baptist Church.
Bramlett died on March 22, 2021, leaving his wife, Nancy Elizabeth Stringer Bramlett, whom he married in 1954; a daughter and a son; and six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Truman Moore - Sebastopol
Coach Truman Moore took boys’ and girls’ athletics to new heights in basketball and softball in Scott County with most of his career spent at Sebastopol and Scott Central.
A 1959 graduate of Walnut Grove High School, Moore earned an Associate’s degree at East Central Community College in 1962 and received a Bachelor of Science in Education at Delta State University in 1964. He attended college on baseball and basketball scholarships.
He started his career in coaching in 1964 at George County High School in Lucedale where he served as a head coach six years before returning to his hometown in 1970 to coach at South Leake High School. In Walnut Grove, Moore served as assistant basketball coach four years before becoming head coach for the following six years.
Moore entered the Scott County School District at Scott Central where he served as an assistant football and head basketball coach for four years. Moore then moved up Highway 21 to take a head coaching position at Sebastopol High School where he finished his career in 2004.
In boys’ basketball, Moore’s teams won conference and tournament championships in 1965 and 1968 before his arrival in Scott County. Since that arrival, Moore’s teams won conference and tournament titles in 1980, 1983, 1988, 1990, and 1993. Also in 1990, Moore’s teams won a district championship and finished as runners-up at South State. In 1993, Moore’s teams at Sebastopol won a district championship and finished second in South State.
Overall, in 453 games, Moore’s teams posted a 242-211 record with a 53 percent winning rate.
In girls basketball at Sebastopol, Moore’s teams won the following championships in 1986 including Sebastopol Invitational Tournament, Scott County Tournament, Cherokee Conference, district championship, and finished in second place in Class 1A state.
In 1987, Sebastopol won their own tournament and district championships and in 1988 won a conference and district championship under Moore.
In 1991, Moore coached girls’ track to fifth place in Class 1A at state.
In girls’ slow-pitch softball at Sebatopol, the Lady Bobcats won their own tournament in 1996 and 1997, district championships in 1988 and 2003, fourth place in Class 1A at state in 1998, South State runners-up in 2003 and third place at South State in 2004.
In Moore’s coaching in football, teams he guided won 24 and lost 19 with two ties for a 53 percent winning margin.
In addition to membership in the Mississippi Association of Coaches, Moore was named All-Star Coach in girls’ basketball by the Mississippi High School Activities Association in 1990. In the same sport in the Cherokee Conference, he was named Coach of the Year three times and once for boys’ basketball.
Moore served as an instructor for summer basketball camps at East Central Community College and served as director of Sebastopol Parks and Recreation, 1996-2001. He has also been president and vice-president of the Jaycees Club in Walnut Grove, board of directors for the Leake County Country Club, and chairman of the Board of Deacons at New Hope Baptist Church.
He has been married 46 years to Gary Ann Sistruck Moore, a retired instructor at ECCC. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
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McKinley Kincaid - Morton
In Scott County, most don’t realize where the love of wearing the number 24 comes from in basketball. Not only is it synonymous with being a shooting guard but it is also synonymous with McKinley Kincaid. He was the most prolific and successful basketball player and coach who has ever hailed from Scott County.
A native of Morton, Kincaid began wearing number 24 in his high school basketball playing days from 1965-1967. His high school graduation picture of 1967 can still be seen in the halls of Bettye Mae Jack Middle School. He was the class vice-president and returned to coach at Bettye Mae Jack when there were several offers for him to have a coaching career in other multiple states after college.
At Jackson State College, now known as Jackson State University, Kincaid wore the same number as he would become known for it throughout his ball-playing days. The Tigers were co-champions of the S.W.A.C. in 1967-1968 with a season record of 24-3.
Coach Kincaid continued to play during the 1969-1970 school year where they won the SWAC championship and playing across the country.
In 1971, Kincaid put up several points during their wins over Grambling and Dillard. Kincaid was also known for his 25-foot jump shot which was virtually unstoppable.
Coach Kincaid returned to Scott County and helped his teams win the North Little Dixie Championship in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974. They were the Overall Little Dixie Champions in 1974.
His team also received the honors of North Little Dixie Champions in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
His seventh grade 1986-1987 teams went undefeated that year.
Those who know him best remember drills that a lot of players endured under his guidance. Asking former players about Coach Kincaid, their backs would straighten up and they would immediately have a smile on their face. He is a mainstay, a tough individual and a father-figure for so many athletes.
He commands respect when he walks into a room. To have someone who was born and raised in Scott County and who has supported so many of children can never be put into words.
Edgar Simpson - Morton
Edgar Lamar Simpson, known back in his playing days at Morton High School as “Bull,” earned his nickname honestly by literally running over his opponents en route to helping the Panthers win consistently.
During his senior year in 1957, Simpson helped Morton to a ranking as high as number six in the state’s top 25 football teams. He was named to the first team, All Little Dixie Conference that season and was the leading scorer in the conference.
Standing 5’9” weighing 184 pounds at the fullback position, Simpson was also part of a two-player attack, pairing up with Lawrence Beasley. Simpson amassed yards of 26, 34, 74, 77 and other runs while scoring touchdowns along the way. But Simpson inflicting a punishing attack of his own that led him to be described as a “battering ram” against his victims.
One former teammate described him as a humble and compassionate young man, but it was all business when on the football gridiron, both in practice and games.
“In high school, he would run over us sometimes, inflicting much pain, but he always took the time to help us up after impact.”
Simpson’s passion was scoring for his team’s offense. He had the opportunity to attend Mississippi State University on a scholarship. However, he left State when Bulldog coaches moved him from the backfield to a lineman position.
Simpson transferred to East Central Junior College (now known as East Central Community College) where he studied physical education and continued guiding the way to victories.
Simpson returned to the senior college ranks at Mississippi College where he also studied physical education and contributed greatly to the Choctaws’ teams.
Simpson has worked in the landscaping profession and now lives in Lena, not far from his Morton hometown.
Rex Keeton - Morton
Rex Keeton provided Scott County and East Central Community College with great memories in athletics during his playing days at the schools. Keeton is a familiar name to the area as he has played with, worked with, and coached with several other past inductees of the Scott County Sports Hall of Fame.
Keeton is a 1963 graduate of Morton High School where he played football and baseball for four years. He was selected to the All-North Dixie Conference. He was also named Mr. Morton High School.
Keeton enrolled at ECCC in 1963 where he took his athletic career to a new level. As a member of the 1963-64 football teams, he played lineman on offense and defense. A two-year letterman and two-way starter, Keeton was named a team captain and earned first team All-State honors his sophomore year.
Also, while at ECCC, Keeton was named Most Outstanding Lineman by the Mississippi Junior College Athletic Association, the only ECCC player to receive this award. Other honors at ECCC included serving as vice-president of the student body and he was named a class favorite.
Later in life, in 2003, Keeton was inducted into the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame, the first player from Morton to be selected.
Although he received a scholarship to William and Mary University, Keeton transferred to Delta State University to complete his education. While at Delta State, Keeton was a two-year starter in football and received the Sportsmanship Award his senior year.
In his professional career, Keeton served as an educator for 40 years including positions as a teacher, coach, and administrator in numerous schools across the state, including Morton High School.
He is married to the former Kaye Payne of Pelahatchie and they have four children and nine grandchildren. In retirement, Keeton lives in the Crossroads Community.
Shay Hodge - Morton
A stellar high school and college athlete, Shay Hodge has molded his athletic career into opportunities to coach, teach, and encourage other aspiring athletes toward success in their lives while meeting challenges head-on.
Hodge is well known to Morton Panther fans and Ole Miss fans after posting phenomenal statistics on the high school and college levels. In high school, Hodge excelled on the football gridiron and on the basketball court. He concentrated all his energies at Ole Miss in football and academics.
While his professional career did not develop as planned, Hodge has used that experience to help make a difference in others’ lives.
A 2006 graduate of Morton High School, Hodge’s football resume is equally impressive as his basketball record as he represented the Panthers well in both sports.
On the gridiron, Hodge scored more than 80 touchdowns during his high school career from 2003-2006. In 2006, he was the first 1,000 receiver in school history and led Morton to the third round of playoffs, best in school history.
In 2006, Hodge won the Most Valuable Player award in the annual Battle for the Golden Chicken rivalry between Morton and Forest. In that game, Hodge recorded six receptions for 215 yards with five touchdowns. He also had 90-yard kickoff return and a 60-yard return. Defensively, Hodge had 10 tackles and one interception.
All in 2006, Hodge was selected for the Bernard Blackwell High School All-Star game and led the state in yards (1,150) and touchdowns (21). He was also an Army Bowl All-American nominee in football.
On the basketball court, Hodge scored more than 1,000 career points from 2003-2006. In 2006, he scored a career high 51 points in one game and was named MVP of the Scott County Basketball Tournament the same year. While in high school, Hodge stepped out of Morton in 2004 to help lead nationally ranked Jackson Panthers AAU team to the Elite 8 in a national tournament. Hodge led the state in basketball points per game with 30 in 2006, and in the same year was named a McDonalds All-American nominee in basketball.
Hodge caught the attention of the national media. In 2004, Hodge was ranked in the top 100 players nationally during the Adidas 64 tournament. Other rankings, in 2006, included number 49 best athlete in the nation by ESPN and number 64 best receiver in the nation, both in 2006.
Hodge carried his skills on the football field to the University of Mississippi where he became one of the Ole Miss Rebels’ best players in school history. From 2006-2009, he was a four-year starter and was named first team All-SEC and an honorable mention All-American. He was the first player in Ole Miss history to record 1,000 yards as a receiver and led the SEC in all major categories.
Within the Ole Miss program, Hodge set a career record in receiver yards with 2,646 and set a single season record with 1,135 yards. He finished second all-time in receptions with 173 yards and second all-time in touchdowns with 22. He had the most 100-yard games in a season with five. He was named to the pre-season Biletnikoff Award list among the best wide receivers in the country. A member of the Ole Miss M-Club, he was a team co-captain and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was a participant in the Bowl Championship Series as the Rebels won the Cotton Bowl.
Hodge accomplished his life-long dream of reaching the NFL when he initially signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He was later released and hooked up with the Washington Redskins and later the Cincinnati Bengals. Hodge has played with six other organizations in professional football.
Most recently, Hodge answered the call to become a high school football coach. He started as offensive coordinator at Provine High School in Jackson and now serves as head coach at Hillcrest Christian.
Shelia Sanders Dupree - Forest
Shelia Sanders Dupree distinguished herself as a Bearcat in athletics on the basketball courts of high school and college ranks.
Dupree is a 1975 honor graduate of Forest High School where she earned letters in all four years for the sports of basketball and track. She also earned the Most Valuable Player award in track in 1974.
At the local level, Dupree earned the respect and admiration of her coaches and fellow athletes in winning the Most Valuable Player award in girls’ basketball in 1974 and 1975. She received the MVP award in the Scott County Basketball Tournament.
On the state level, Dupree was named an All-Star player in the Little Dixie Conference 1973-75. She was selected for All-State honors in the Mississippi High School Basketball Championships in 1975 and she was invited to participate in the All-Star basketball game in the same year.
These accomplishments helped to earn Dupree a full athletic scholarship to Jackson State University where she graduated in 1979 with Cum Laude honors. While at Jackson State, Dupree was a 3-year letterman and achieved the highest academic average in women’s basketball at the university. She was selected for the National Black Basketball Championship Team for Jackson State in 1978.
Her collegiate accomplishments led to Dupree being inducted into the Jackson State University Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.