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‘Tomorrow’s 25’ Seeks to Empower Coaches to Influence Classrooms, Sports and Communities

The Ridgeland High Volleyball team’s five starters crossed near the bottom of the court and circled back to the net for the pregame handshake on Oct. 3. The girls, dressed in hot pink jerseys in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, then headed to the sideline and one by one high-fived each of their other teammates.

Allyson Brooks stood at the end of that line radiating nervous energy. As each girl reached her, she slapped both their palms in a low five. The team retreated to the center of the court to finish their pregame ritual and she turned, her long ponytail sweeping across the shoulder of her pale pink cropped pantsuit, and made her way to her seat.

“We are actually tied right now with Neshoba Central for the number one spot,” Brooks told the Mississippi Free Press on Oct 3. “We’ll know more after tonight to see (who wins) the tiebreaker to see who is going to take the district champ title but we’ve had a really great season, especially with them dealing with a coaching change. Those girls have responded really, really well.”

The Lady Titans jumped out to a commanding lead over the Columbus Falcons and the game soon came to a 2-0 end. The team celebrated with hugs and smiles as parents and fans joined them near the floor.

“The group of seniors that I have, with me coming in and trying to build culture, have really helped me a lot,” Brooks said. “They are my little assistant coaches. It’s been hard without an assistant coach, teaching four different preps and getting my Ph.D.”

Brooks has found support in a new initiative designed for coaches. She is a member of the second cohort of the Mississippi Excellence in Coaching Fellowship, also known as Tomorrow’s 25. The program is sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Coaches, the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the University of Mississippi’s School of Education. The goal is to invest in the lives and careers of leaders in high school and middle school athletics. The 10-month fellowship runs from August to

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