Tippah County News

The story of the Blue Mountain “Super Six” may be the best in Mississippi this year

Blue Mountain girls have made it further than any team before them. They’ve gone further and have further still to go, one game for all of the marbles. We were there yesterday to see their historic win, and we will be there Thursday to see the conclusion of this magical season.

In our opinion, Blue Mountain, the “Super Six” and their story is the best in the state this sports season. The smallest public school in the state, their home court is the oldest im the state, and a group of girls and their home grown coach playing on the biggest stage and turning in a season for the ages? Its storybook.

Our friend Sarah Miller Taylor, a Blue Mountain teacher herself, wrote these words and we are republishing them below along with some photos from the Blue Mountain win on Monday.

One down, one to go. See y’all Thursday.

The air around Blue Mountain is decidedly different than usual. It has an early air of a new season to it that has nothing to do with warmer weather or the promise of spring. Instead, it is infused with a hope that doesn’t often drift in abundance through this tiny, rural town, in this itty bitty school. And it all has to do with six girls and a coach who won’t quit.

I drive thirty five minutes every morning back to my home county of Tippah to teach. I could easily teach in Marshall County where I now live, and I have no aversion to the prospect. However, when I was looking to make the move to public school more than twelve years ago now, Blue Mountain was the only school to give me a chance. I’m nothing if not loyal, so I’ve been here ever since. I grew up a scant mile down the road. I like being a part of both communities, my once-home and my new one. It works well for me. And right now, I could not be more proud of my little town and, especially, my little school.

Yesterday, I woke up at 3am, and by 4:15, I was en route to Jackson, Miss., with three of my very best teacher buddies. We got to watch our Blue Mountain girls’ team compete and win in the state quarterfinals for 1A basketball. It’s a history-making game. Several years ago, we got to the stage right before this. But on Thursday, for the first time in the history of the school, our girls will compete for the state championship.

Here’s the kicker, though. There’s only six players. We call them our “super six.” Some rivals get bent out of shape about that moniker when they now see eight girls on the bench. Until a month ago, our girls won every game they played (except against Clinton High School, a very competitive 7A team) with six players, four of which are seniors. Then, after the junior high season ended, an 8th grader moved up to dress out and a former student (who has not played in a while) came back to school. The two new players absolutely support the team, but they don’t start. Essentially, all season, we have had one sub player when the going gets tough. The girls can’t foul out. They can’t get tired. They can’t get hurt. Or the season is done. They have known that from game one. And they continue to amaze me with every play.

Except very locally, I have not seen much excitement for this team. I don’t really understand how more folks aren’t talking about this. Each time they play, they get better in my eyes. Maybe because I know what is on the line. Maybe because I’ve known them since they were little girls in elementary school. Maybe because I understand how far they have come as players…and as young women. I’m just amazed by them every time I see them. And I want to shout from the rooftops what an inspiration they are and how special this little team is.

Their coach, Regina Chills, was a standout at my alma mater of Ripley when I was a kid. I have seen her take a group of young, undisciplined players and turn them into the fierce, level-headed, tenacious basketball machines they are today with almost no resources in the oldest (and probably smallest) high school gym still in use in the state of Mississippi. She coached the junior high team, too, with only two volunteer assistants. In between games, she has slugged along with us teachers in the concession stand after putting in a full day at school, and I don’t know how she does it. There’s no can’t, no quit in that woman, and she is instilling that in every one of these girls.

The growth I have seen in just my two sophomore students on the team is phenomenal. Sophomores are usually space cadets, but under Coach Chills, these girls are unrecognizable from the students they were last year. They are performing at the top of their game in the classroom and out. The seniors are all involved in dual-credit college courses, making excellent grades, making us so proud. One of them has college offers at more schools than I can count on a hand, and another has offers in two sports! One senior made a perfect score on my state test, is one of the best writers I have ever taught, and can draw and paint more beautifully than any contemporary artist I could name. They are so talented. They are so brilliant. They are so beautiful. And each one is tougher than a pine knot.

They have also risen above so much adversity to make it to this level of the game. Our school is a Title I school. None of these girls come from privilege. They have not had the luxury of losing their heads even one time on that court. I watched on dislocate a shoulder on the court, have it popped back into place, and get ready to keep playing. I watched one get shoved into a bench with football force and pop back up to get in the game with a smile. They don’t get to react, they don’t get to take a break because they know they must push on for the good of the team. You don’t see that kind of higher motivation much in folks these days. They may be a small team, but there’s huge heart. They prove it week after week, game after game.

So the air is pretty charged around here. We don’t come from a place where a lot of really big things happen. We just don’t see such big things much in such a small place. Because we are small, we don’t get used to many accolades around here, so we push forward without them. But I sure would like these gals to have a few more. They deserve it. And they deserve this win and all the good the world has to offer, besides. So I’m ready to head down to Jackson on Thursday and cheer them on with everything this old teacher has in her. My little school deserves some positive attention. It could be an entirely new season for Blue Mountain School. And I am here for it!

Jon Ross Myers

Jon Ross Myers is the executive editor and publisher of the Mississippi News Network, Mississippi's largest digital only media company. He can be reached at editor@tippahnews.com

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