DHS coaches talk spring sports at Rotary

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Baseball Coach James Moody and Track Coach Deborah Boykin were the speakers for the February 16 Rotary Club meeting. Moody and Boykin spoke to Rotarians about upcoming spring sports and their expectations for 2022.

Boykin has been coaching at DHS for 16 years and she got involved in track when her daughters played the sport. Boykin said cross country and track get the “leftover kids” who may not have made certain teams.

“My philosophy is that these kids just want to belong on a team. And if I can grab a couple of them and make them superstars, that’s awesome,” said Boykin.

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This year is the eighth year for cross country and track, and Boykin’s teams have improved over the years. Last season, the boys and girls cross-country teams placed first in sectionals, which Boykin said “is unheard of.”

Boykin said many of their opponents are private school students who regularly practice running and use their terrain to their advantage. In northern Alabama, the terrain has more hills than Demopolis that gives students in those areas an advantage over their opponents.

Boykin also spoke on DHS student Shanedra Richardson, who recently won the 5A 60m dash and Long Jump State Indoor Track championship.

“Keep an eye out for Shanedra Richardson. She will probably put Demopolis on the map,” said Boykin.

Boykin said it’s difficult to get other teams to come to Demopolis to compete because of distance.

“We’re basically in the middle of nowhere. Tuscaloosa is almost an hour away, Mobile and Montgomery are even further, and Meridian is a good drive away,” said Boykin. “So we’re in our own little area. It’s really hard for me to get teams to travel 50 miles to us when they can stay in Tuscaloosa on a Saturday morning.”

Coach Moody has been a baseball coach for 28 years, and he’s spent 26 of those years in the Demopolis school system. This year’s baseball team has 22 members with 11 on the JV team and 11 on the varsity team. Joseph Gantt, Vincent Deas, Ryan Bumgarner, and Drew Seymore make up this year’s senior group.

Moody said they lost 71 of their roughly 150 innings last season, and he said that is always a concern.

“We’ve got some holes to fill this year. We have some young men who are going to have to step up and do their jobs,” said Moody.

Moody also touched on how the team has already lost one of its key players in the pitching position. He will play this season, but will play at first base rather than pitcher to avoid further injury.

“That hurts. When you have a guy who you know can go out there and keep you in a ball game, and you lose him? That hurts,” said Moody.

The baseball schedule for this year is similar to past seasons. This year’s team will have two 7A opponents, three 6A, one of which was the semi-finalist in that classification, and their regular 5A opponents. Moody said it doesn’t matter who their opponent is because whoever is on the mound can make the difference in a game.

“The thing about baseball is that it’s different from other sports. We can travel down to Sweet Water and they can hand it to us on any given day,” said Moody. “It’s all about who’s on that mound. People say ‘well you’re a 5A and they’re 1A,’ well that 1A pitcher is going to Alabama or Auburn. So it makes a difference.”

Moody said he likes the group he has for the 2022 season, though he doesn’t have a superstar. He said he and his staff tell their players they “want to be blue collar, we want to be hard-nosed.”

“That’s how we have to do it. We’re not good enough to sit back and expect someone to throw a two-hit shutout and hit a home run in the seventh inning. We’re just not that kind of team,” said Moody. “But that’s okay. They’re a good bunch and they’re working hard.”

Every year Moody tries to accomplish two things with his teams; have great chemistry and trust in the coaching staff. He said if his team can accomplish those two things, they will be as good as they can be.