2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Harden, Burton, Chaney, Dawkins, Dearing, Gordon, Jackson (11th), Jackson (32nd), Jordan, Little, Nunnelee

Senate Resolution 6

(As Adopted by Senate)


     WHEREAS, a Gluckstadt, Mississippi, couple was named "Most Caring Coaches" award winners in the September 29-October 1, 2006, issue of USA Weekend.  Mandy and Paul Rogers were selected from 750 entries from across the nation for their work in founding the Ridgeland Challenger Softball League; and

     WHEREAS, the team was created 16 years ago to provide recreational opportunities for special-needs children, such as their sons Nate, 22, and Ben, 18.  The first season, they had two teams of nine kids each.  Now, there are almost 100 players in separate youth and adult leagues; and

     WHEREAS, Ridgeland resident, Laura Sue McClure, nominated the pair for the contest sponsored by The Clarion-Ledger, USA Weekend and ESPN; and

     WHEREAS, this USA Weekend program honors outstanding youth coaches nominated by readers, who lead their players both on and off the field.  Each receives $1,000.00 awards for their teams.  After reading more than 700 nominations, this distinguished panel of professional and college coaches made the final selection:  the judges included WNBA Coach Anne Donovan of The Seattle Storm; U.S. Women's Fed Cup tennis Coach Zina Garrison; Auburn University's women's swim Coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker; the Minnesota Wild's Jacques Lemaiare; Chicago Bears Coach Lovie Smith; and Rob Dibble of Best Damn Sports Show Period.  From a field of 10, they picked three, which included Mandy and Paul Rogers; and

     WHEREAS, the Ridgeland Challenger League started as an idea in 1991 when Ridgeland resident David Hill saw a young girl in a wheelchair watching a baseball game and wondered what was needed for her to be able to play baseball.  The inaugural season was such a wonderful experience for everyone involved, a decision was made to expand the league and play the following season.  The "expanded" season consisted of 4 teams playing 4 games over 2 weekends in August.  The league continued growing and a few years later, the Challenger League was put into the regular Ridgeland baseball season and now plays 12-14 games during the months of April, May and June.  There are now approximately 100 players on 6 adult teams and 4 youth teams, assisted by a multitude of buddies and coaches.  All games are played at Hite Wolcott Park.  During the entire existence of the Challenger League, there has never been any cost to parents or players, all costs being paid through sponsor donations and the City of Ridgeland; and

     WHEREAS, the key to the success of the Challenger League has been the on-going support of the City of Ridgeland and its Parks and Recreation Department.  When the Challenger League was started, Gene McGee had recently been elected Mayor of Ridgeland and he was personally involved in many Challenger League events.  As an outgrowth of the Challenger League, Ridgeland Parks and Recreation has established and now sponsors 2 additional recreational programs for children with disabilities, TOP Soccer and HOOPS Basketball; and

     WHEREAS, through the generosity of sponsors, each child and coach receives a trophy at the end of the season.  Trophy day is  the day anxiously awaited by the players.  Each year there are a number of special awards in memory of players and a coach who had played/coached in the Challenger League.  These awards include the Mark F. Smith Spirit Award, the Christopher Rives Spirit Award, the Jon Richardson MVP Award, the Clay Converse MVP Award, the Heather Occhipinti MVP Award and the Dustin Parks MVP Award.  Each year the coaches select the recipients of these special awards which honor and perpetuate the memory of those persons for whom the awards are named; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we recognize the selfless contributions of these Mississippi citizens who have created opportunities on and off the sports field for children with special needs, and has brought honor to their community and to the State of Mississippi:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby commend and congratulate Mandy and Paul Rogers of Gluckstadt, Mississippi, for receiving the 2006 "Most Caring Coaches" Award by USA Weekend Magazine, and thank them for their contributions to the special needs children of their community and state.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution shall be presented to Mandy and Paul Rogers, forwarded to Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland, Mississippi, and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.