JCJC renames gymnasium in honor of A.B. Howard

Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: shawn.wansley@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2010-08-12 14:48:58

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – The Jones County Junior College gymnasium has a new name.

The school renamed Bobcat Gymnasium in honor of longtime coach and educator A.B. Howard during a ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Despite the forecast for heavy snow, a sizeable crowd consisting of family members, friends, former players and well-wishers was on hand to congratulate and recognize Howard.

“What an honor it is to be here,” Howard said during a reception in the gym’s game room between the women and men’s games vs. Hinds Community College. “But the biggest honor to me was coaching you young men.”

Howard noted the gym had its first game on Dec. 2, 1954, when the Lions Club Tournament was held there. He said East Central Junior College beat JCJC in the championship game by holding the ball.

“But we were able to beat them twice that year,” Howard said of the Decatur team. “They only lost two games all year and both of them were to Jones.”

Howard noted that his Bobcat teams consisted mostly of players from the JCJC district.

“We have a great eight-county district,” he said. “I thought it was important for us to go out and play games in the district to build support for our program.”

He said the JCJC teams beat the freshmen teams from Mississippi Southern College and Mississippi College, as well as the traveling, professional House of David team.

“They would not play us again after we beat them,” he said.

Howard has a storied history with JCJC.

The Louisville native was a star athlete at George S. Gardiner High School in Laurel and went on to Mississippi State University, where played on the school’s only Southeastern Conference championship football team in 1941. He then served in World War II and returned home to coach at Glade High School.

Howard then came to JCJC in 1950 as head basketball coach and assistant football coach. He doubled as head football coach from 1958-60 and became athletic director in 1960 when B.L. Kisner passed away.

Sim Cooley became head football coach in 1961 and Howard remained as head basketball coach until 1977. He retired as athletic director in 1982.

He has the longest coaching tenure of anyone at Jones.

Howard was also head of the P.E. Department for many years and was chairman of Student Affairs, which put him in charge of campus discipline.

He is a member of the inaugural class of the JCJC Sports Hall of Fame, which began in 2007, as well as the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame. He is also in the NJCAA Hall of Fame because was an assistant coach on the 1955 Bobcat football team, which went to the Junior Rose Bowl and was inducted as a group in 2002.

“We are very proud and happy to recognize such a great man as A.B. Howard,” said JCJC school president Dr. Jesse Smith. “He richly deserves this honor.”


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