Smith on Sports

Danny P. Smith

My heart went into the pit of my stomach on Saturday night as the news broke.

Lake Little, a wonderful and well-known young lady in Starkville, died in a plane crash over the weekend.

The reports started coming out on social media on Saturday afternoon about the accident in Oxford. I didn’t think much about it at the time.

After Starkville Daily News Executive Editor Ryan Phillips started releasing the details about the crash and Lake was the person identified in the plane, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

Ryan did a wonderful job in Sunday’s edition of documenting Lake’s impact on this community and there’s not much to add to his observation.

There are a few personal notes that I’d like to share here.

In the last couple of years, I got to know Lake just a little bit as a sports editor covering one of the area’s student-athletes.

Lake was a multiple-sport athlete at Starkville Academy and seemed to love her time as a member of the soccer and tennis teams. She also ran track in junior high, was on the archery team, was a cheerleader and was an officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

There first time I met Lake was at a Starkville Academy media day and the soccer head coach said there was a young woman he would like to be the spokesperson for the team. It was Lake.

It didn’t take long to realize that Lake had a vision of what she’d like to see from the team and herself individually. She spoke with boldness and conviction. That impressed me immediately.

Lake was so gracious with her time in providing comments after matches, win or lose, and had the type of personality that attracted people to her.

It was the same way with tennis last year. The Volunteers had an up and coming team, but Lake provided valuable leadership to mold some of the younger players. They enjoyed success because of it with state championships in girls singles and mixed doubles.

Even though I only knew Lake for a short time, she became one of my favorite athletes to cover just because of how she went about her business.

It’s still hard to believe that Lake is no longer with us even a couple of days now after learning of her death.

There are no adequate words of comfort that can be effectively shared by me at this time to those who knew Lake. I’m still trying to process why a promising young person has been lost way too soon.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Lake’s family and her Starkville Academy family.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.

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