A day to celebrate: Starkville honors MSU Women's Basketball team

MSU senior Roshunda Johnson speaks to the crowd as coach Vic Schaefer looks on (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

Bulldog fans young and old from both far and near gathered in downtown Starkville Friday evening to recognize some hometown heroes who have helped bring Starkville to the world’s stage.

The Mississippi State University Women’s Basketball team was recognized by the community and university with a ceremony Friday. Several local dignitaries spoke including Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, MSU Athletic Director John Cohen, MSU President Mark Keenum and MSU Women’s Basketball Coach Vic Schaefer.

The team ended its 2017-2018 season with a 37-2 record, ultimately losing 58-61 to Notre Dame in the NCAA Championship on April 1.

Schaefer thanked the Starkville and MSU communities for their support.

“You’re looking at one of the greatest teams in the history of our school, if not the greatest, 37-2,” Schaefer said. “I’ve not been here the whole time the school’s been here, but it’s really hard to do, and these young ladies have done it. You guys have been a big part of it. What you do, the support that you give these young ladies, my staff and I, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you.”

Schaefer also acknowledged the record attendance for Humphrey Coliseum the team set this year.

“People have no idea how special this place is until they visit, until they come to a game, (with) 10,000 people in The Hump,” Schaefer said. “It’s an environment unlike any other in the country. You all make it that.”

After Schaefer’s speech, the four seniors on the team spoke.

This year’s class includes Blair Schaefer, Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson and Victoria Vivians.

“All you guys are special to me,” William said. “You’ll always have a place in my heart.

Thank you for supporting us for years to come, because I know you guys will.”

Husband and wife Don and Peggy Whitmire were in town from Phoenix, Arizona, and attended the recognition. Don gave his views on the team’s journey, and said it had gotten Peggy, who rarely watched sports, interested in women’s basketball.

“It was just a marvelous, marvelous thing, even long distance, to watch this team, and especially during the Elite Eight and the Final Four, and some of the cool vignettes they had on television talking about each of them individually,”

Don Whitmire said. “It’s a great thing, a fantastic thing for the university.”

Starkville resident Cerese Teel also shared her thoughts, saying she had followed the women’s basketball team for years.

“It’s just a fantastic day with a wonderful crowd out,” Teel said. “I’m so proud of our girls, and we hope for the best in the future.”

Keenum also shared a story showing the global recognition the team has garnered. He said while on a visit to the premier of Morocco, in 2017, the premier complimented the team.

“I walked in his office, and the first thing he said to me was ‘Mr. President congratulations on your women’s basketball team,”’ Keenum said