Tim Elko, our fathers, and the ‘game of failure’


Tim Elko, our fathers, and the ‘game of failure’

I’ve come to understand a simple truth: The very worst things could be happening in the world around you, but everything feels so much better while watching a baseball game with your dad.

I owe my obsession with the game to Dad. He coached my tee ball team, we played catch in the front yard until it got too dark to see, and he taught me swing mechanics. He made so many sacrifices to watch me play in Little League, and he encouraged me after I realized in middle school that my dream of becoming a big league player was just so laughably, unbelievably unattainable.

Adam Ganucheau

He let me stay up way past my bedtime to watch our Boston Red Sox finish close games. Watching us play the Yankees, he taught me the skill of respectful trash talk (I later learned the art of vulgar trash talk in the right field student section). I’ll forever cherish some of the lessons I learned when Dad took me to my first Major League game at the old Turner Field in Atlanta, and our first trip to Fenway Park was borderline spiritual.

But perhaps the most important thing dad has taught me about baseball is that it’s a game of failure. The sport’s best hitters routinely fail to reach base about 70% of the time. Even the most dominant pitchers can struggle to find the strike zone for no good reason, and the most intelligent players are always liable to make fielding or baserunning errors. Some of the greatest baseball teams in history lost close to half of their season’s games.

Baseball has never been about avoiding that inevitable failure, Dad has always said; it’s about how you respond when it happens.

So that’s why, sitting with my dad at home on Saturday night watching our beloved decisively win their first game at the College World Series, I found myself completely lost in the story of .

Elko, the captain of the team that has nearly reached the pinnacle of the sport, has become a true college baseball legend for responding remarkably to failure. Ahead of this Father’s Day, I wondered if Elko’s dad would agree.

“To say there have been ups and downs is an understatement,” John Elko told me, laughing. Then, before I even mentioned my dad’s most important baseball lesson, John Elko says to me: “You know, baseball is a game of failure.”

My dad and Tim Elko’s dad are on to something.

A young Tim Elko poses for a photo. (Courtesy John Elko)

Tim’s freshman year, he quickly realized after arriving on campus that SEC baseball teams are loaded with talent and he’d have to wait his turn. His sophomore year, he began to emerge but a nagging injury held back his production. His junior year in 2020, the hottest hit streak of his life — and his team’s incredible 16-game win streak — was abruptly ended when the pandemic shut the world down.

He entered his senior year in 2021 thinking it would be his last at Ole Miss. He led the team to an impressive 21-6 start with a high national ranking, and Elko was absolutely smoking the ball. Early that season, he was racking up the accolades: SEC Player of the Week, Bragan Slugger of the Week, Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week.

Then, in a freak replayed hundreds of times by Ole Miss fans, Elko rolled over first base awkwardly in a meaningless mid-week blowout and tore his ACL. The lifeblood of the team, everyone rightfully assumed, was out for the season.

“My immediate thought was that his career is probably over,” John Elko said of the shocking injury. “It was just a devastating feeling, to be honest with you.”

But five days later, Tim video-called his parents. He showed them his new knee brace, and he told them what the team doctors had just told him.

“The minute they told him he could possibly play through the injury, he said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do this,’” John Elko recalled.

Just 33 days after the injury, Elko came into the game as a pinch hitter at Texas A&M and blasted a three-run home run. He led Ole Miss to game three of the Super Regionals last year and hit seven home runs and 18 RBI — all on a torn ACL. That performance led to unironic calls that the university build an Elko statue at Swayze Field.

That’s an impressive way to respond to an unexpected moment of failure.

“When he decided to play on the bad knee, we both felt and said it at the same time that God was gonna move here, that he was gonna make something happen,” John Elko said. “And the rest is history. It shouldn’t have been able to happen the way that it did, but it did. You can explain it any way you like, but we prefer ‘miracle.’” 

After that 2021 season ended, Tim had a decision to make: Should he take his chances and enter the MLB draft with a bum knee, or should he come back to Ole Miss for one more “COVID season” to rehab his leg and try to prove himself to scouts?

“He thought and prayed about it for a few days, but made the decision to come back to Ole Miss,” John Elko recalled. “He said, ‘We’re gonna go to Omaha and win a national championship.’ That’s why he came back.” 

Well in Omaha one year later, Tim Elko has his squad knocking at the door of the national championship series. It’s an incredible accomplishment considering how badly the team was playing in March and April. The turnaround, too, can be largely credited to Elko and the team’s other leaders. Elko’s play this season has been incredible and has surely impressed pro scouts: 22 home runs, 71 RBI, 58 runs scored and 41 walks.

John Elko, left, and Tim Elko pose for a photo. (Courtesy John Elko)

During the game on Saturday night, an ESPN reporter interviewed John Elko at Charles Schwab Field. All the fathers and sons sitting in that stadium and watching on national TV saw Tim have just a decent game: he had one hit, one walk and scored the first run of the game. Of course, John Elko talked about how proud he was of his son and the team.

It’s a strange thing to consider, but all those fathers and sons who watched the game Saturday night aren’t too unlike the Elkos. All those fathers want is for their sons to succeed and to respond well after moments of failure, and all those sons want is to make their fathers proud.

Tim Elko sure is successful, and he’s clearly done a great job responding to failure. And John Elko sure is proud. That’s what it’s all about for the Elkos and for all of us.

I’ll be watching the remainder of Ole Miss’ run here in Omaha, and my dad will be back at home. We’ll talk on the phone after the games and discuss the key plays and big moments. But for the remainder of the College World Series, we’ll both be watching out for that same old maxim: How do players and teams respond to the inevitable failure?

My dad and I like the chances of the team whose leader has proven he knows how to respond to failure well. And you have to believe John Elko feels the same way.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Jackson summer camp emphasizes health, wellness


Operation Shoestring’s summer camp for Jackson kids emphasizes health, wellness

Operation Shoestring has been providing after school and summer activities to children in Jackson for decades  – but this year, they’re doing things a bit differently.

The new undertaking is called “Project Rise,” and activities focused on physical and mental are peppered throughout the summer. That includes integrating conversations about wellness into camp activities such as academic enrichment, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities, outdoor sports, swim classes and mentoring programs.

This year’s camp is serving about 125 third through fifth graders over a six-week period – free of charge.

Its programs during the summer and school year support kids in the Jackson Public School system and metro area. Students in Jackson are mostly from low-income families of color: 95% of students are Black, and 73.8% of students are on free or reduced lunch. 

For Laquinta Williams, the camp has been a tremendous help for her family. Williams is a single working mother of Markeem and Akirahs, students at Walton Elementary School who also attend Operation Shoestring’s summer programs. 

She believes the summer programming is especially important for her son Markeem, whose father recently passed away. 

“He likes to talk to them, and he doesn’t usually like to talk to people,” she said of the camp staffers. “He feels comfortable with them.” 

She also said the camp helps her to be able to work.

“It’s a lot of money raising children with no help,” she said. “ … We appreciate everything. This is the best service we have had hands down. They even offer us breakfast when we drop our kids off.” 

Supporting children is difficult to do alone, she said, and in past summers she’s paid for other summer camps and activities. The free activities at Operation Shoestring mean she doesn’t have that extra expense this year. 


Students from Operation Shoestring listen to instruction before completing an exercise about mindfulness during Self Expression Camp at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland, Miss., Monday, June 13, 2022.

Robert Langford, executive director of Operation Shoestring, said that the pressures that the pandemic had on communities of color, compounded by the immense stress caused by the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 and the ensuing social justice movement, created an urgent need within families across the country – especially in the Jackson community. 

Recent research shows that young people’s depressive and anxiety symptoms have doubled during the pandemic, with 25% of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% experiencing anxiety symptoms. 

Suicide rates among Black children were increasing even before the pandemic, and Black children are now almost twice as likely to die by suicide than white children, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory. And children from low-income families are two to three times more likely to develop mental health disorders than those who are from higher income families – a startling statistic for a state like Mississippi, where around 30% of its children are poor.

To respond to the need for mental health support, Operation Shoestring weaves “positive, affirming language” into its classrooms and activities, as well as focusing on physical health and wellness, Langford said. 

The organization has partnered with a dietitian from the to illustrate the importance of nutrition in overall wellness, such as conducting cooking and nutrition classes and creating healthy recipes. 

Kids at camp will also partake in a baking class at Urban Foxes, a local family-owned pie shop. 

Langford said that Operation Shoestring values being able to provide students the ability to explore outdoor spaces, which they do through partnerships with St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and the Pearl River Keepers, an organization that works to protect the biodiversity of the Pearl River through cleanups and water testing and monitoring. 

At St. Andrew’s, students are encouraged to engage in different activities, such as basketball, soccer or wellness classes. 

During a wellness class on Monday, Lauren Powell, the school’s director of wellness and upper school counselor, had the children reflect on what it means to practice wellness and to be mindful – including laughter, physical activity, dancing and positive affirmations. Students then created a drawing that incorporated five to six positive characteristics about themselves, such as brave, curious, intelligent and kind. 

Lauren Powell, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s upper class school counselor and director of wellness, left, helps Operation Shoestring students with a mindfulness exercise during Self Expression Camp at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland, Miss., Monday, June 13, 2022.

Students enjoy doing the cupid shuffle and other dances to wake themselves up and get ready before any other activities, she said, and the dances set the tone for the campers to be more self-expressive. 

Powell said she enjoys working with this age group because they’re able to express their emotions without embarrassment. 

When asked how to deal with children who may come from different backgrounds, Powell explained that St. Andrew’s employs something called “asset framing,” a way of enabling children to first be defined by their assets and aspirations before their challenges or deficits. 

“These kids come from very rich cultures, and very, very rich family traditions,” she said. 

Operation Shoestring is also continuing its tradition of offering support to campers’ parents. It provided cash support to families in need during the height of the pandemic and is now hosting two separate support group sessions for parents, one in Cultivation Food Hall and the other in the Ecoshed.  

“We really are about figuring out how we can build a world that is equitable for everybody. And we have a special responsibility in Mississippi because of our past to do what we can with what we have where we are,” said Langford. “So we see ourselves as an organization, as a place to provide direct services and to broker relationships with other people for building a healthier, more just, more compassionate world.” 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Hinds County reported 679 additional COVID-19 cases this week

76 views – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-16 10:07:17

Drivers wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing site on Woodrow Wilson Avenue in Jackson on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Mississippi ranked 40th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

New coronavirus cases leaped in Mississippi in the week ending Sunday, rising 23.3% as 4,495 cases were reported. The previous week had 3,646 new cases of the virus that causes .

Mississippi ranked 40th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week coronavirus…

Source link

ACLU sues over $10 million allocated to private schools


‘Taxpayers’ money shouldn’t go to those schools’: ACLU sues state over $10 million allocated to private schools

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Wednesday that they are suing to stop the state from giving $10 million in pandemic relief funds to private schools, as they say it violates the state Constitution. 

The Legislature passed the bills appropriating this money at the end of the 2022 session in early April, a move that frustrated some advocates and legislators. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which gave the Mississippi Legislature $1.8 billion to spend on pandemic response, government services, and infrastructure improvements to water, sewer, and broadband. 

The bills also allocated $10 million to private colleges and universities for similar purposes, but those dollars are not challenged in this suit. 

The claims that since the Mississippi Constitution prohibits the expenditure of any public funds for private schools, the money allocated earlier this session is unconstitutional and asks for the court to block the state from enforcing the laws, which take effect July 1. 

Senate Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Chair John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, told his colleagues who were opposed to the bills that the private schools had been impacted by and needed help to improve their infrastructure with the federal funds.

“We want to make sure they have some ability to improve their conditions,” he said.

During the lengthy debate of the legislation, though, no one brought up constitutionality.

Section 208, the portion of the Mississippi Constitution in question, reads: 

“No religious or other sect or sects shall ever control any part of the school or other educational funds of this state; nor shall any funds be appropriated toward the support of any sectarian school, or to any school that at the time of receiving such appropriation is not conducted as a free school.” 

Mississippi Today also questioned the legality of this spending in April. 

READ MORE: Lawmakers spent public money on private schools. Does it violate the Mississippi Constitution?

“Educational funding that comes from taxpayer money should be used for that are open to everyone, free of charge,” said Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney who is also working on this case. ”That’s why the Mississippi Constitution says that public money can only be spent on public schools and not private schools. If people want to pay money to send their children to private schools, that’s their business, but the taxpayers’ money shouldn’t go to those schools — it should go to the public schools that are open to everyone.” 

The ACLU is suing on behalf of Parents for Public Schools, a Jackson-based nonprofit. Becky Glover, a policy analyst with Parents for Public Schools, called the bills passed earlier this year a “clear violation” of the state Constitution. 

“The state and its taxpayers need to be responsible stewards of our public schools,” Glover said. “The Mississippi taxpayers are doing their part financially and legally to support public schools, but they need and deserve to count on the state to do its part too. The bottom line is, public money should stay with public schools.” 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

COVID-19 vaccines are coming for kids under 5


COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 are coming. Here’s what you need to know

Vaccine advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of expanding the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to include children under 5 years old. 

The roughly 18 million children younger than 5 are the only Americans not yet eligible for vaccination against COVID-19.

There are around 183,000 children in Mississippi in this age group. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What happens now?

The FDA is not required to follow the adviser’s recommendation but is likely to do so. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will still have to weigh in on that decision if it comes, but if the agency gives its approval as well, vaccines could become available for children in this age group as soon as next week.

Are the vaccines for children different than the adult vaccines?

Both vaccines use the same messenger RNA technology, but the dosage and regimens for young children differ from adults’. Moderna’s regimen will include two doses at one-quarter the strength of adult doses, while Pfizer’s requires three doses at one-tenth the strength of adult doses. 

Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one currently approved for use in children ages 5 and older.

How did the approval for children happen?

A panel of outside vaccine experts met and reviewed the safety and efficacy data submitted by both vaccine manufacturers. The process was the same for the FDA’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines for each age group.

Are the vaccines for children effective?

In its analyses of Pfizer and Moderna data, the FDA said both vaccines are effective in preventing symptomatic infection. Pfizer’s vaccine appeared 80% effective at preventing a symptomatic COVID-19 infection in children under five. Moderna’s vaccine was around 40% to 50% effective for children under 6. 

“Pediatricians and parents are eager to have a COVID vaccine for children down to the age of 6 months,” Dr. Anita Henderson, President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at The Pediatric Clinic in Hattiesburg, said in a statement to Mississippi Today. “We are seeing an increase in COVID cases right now in Mississippi, and we must remember that over the last two years, 13 children in our state have lost their life to COVID. Many additional children have had MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) and other complications from COVID-19. If the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved for use among children 6 months and older, pediatricians would welcome the opportunity to protect this age group as well.”

Are the vaccines for children safe?

The clinical trials of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children showed minimal side effects.

“Given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and likelihood of continued SARS-CoV-2 transmission during the ensuing months, deployment of the vaccine for use among children 6 months through 4 years of age will likely have a beneficial effect on COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality in this age group,” the FDA said.

How many children under five have gotten COVID-19?

More than 30,000 children younger than 5 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S., and nearly 500 coronavirus deaths have been reported in that age group, according to United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy.

In Mississippi, children under 5 have comprised less than 5% of the state’s monthly COVID-19 cases for the majority of the pandemic. 

How can I get the vaccine for my child?

The Mississippi Department of has pre-ordered doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for children, and the shots will be available as soon as next week. The vaccine will be made available for children under 5 at MSDH clinics, and parents will be able to schedule appointments through the agency’s website. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said MSDH will recommend that parents vaccinate their children under 5 if the FDA approves the shots.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

DMR accepting grant applications for pandemic response in seafood industry

Biloxi - Local News Feed Images 001 – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-15 09:45:39

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources will be accepting applications from seafood processors and processing vessels to recoup money spent in response to the pandemic.

The application process will run from July 1 to August 16 on the DMR website at The application process will be open for 47 days.

Partnering with the Department of Agriculture, DMR will administer funds for the Seafood…

Source link

US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

41 views – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-10 14:08:03

FILE – Passengers get a test at Heathrow Airport in London, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international travelers test negative for COVID-19 within a day before boarding a flight to the United States, ending one of the last remaining government mandates designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A senior administration…

Source link

COVID-19 Testing Leader Curative Offers Testing Access in Gulfport, MS for General Public

34 views – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-09 14:10:20

Salvation Army Preparing For The Holidays

, MS — June 9, 2022 —  testing and next-generation healthcare delivery company Curative recently deployed a testing site in Gulfport.

The site is located at 8405 HWY 49 and offers a simple testing option with results delivered directly 1-2 days upon receipt at Curative’s labs and at no out-of-pocket cost to insured patients.

“Curative is proud to be partnering with The Salvation Army Family Store…

Source link

Officials: Millions of COVID-19 shots ordered for youngest

31 views – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-09 16:41:24

FILE – Prepared Pfizer vaccine syringes for children ages 5 to 11 and adults are displayed on a table at Northwest Community Church in Chicago, Dec. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say.

The government allowed pharmacies and states to start…

Source link

Report: Mississippi misses opportunity to make the most out of child care stimulus funds


Report: Mississippi misses opportunity to make the most out of child care stimulus funds

While pandemic child tax credits meaningfully reduced financial stress for Mississippi families, federal child care supports have been less effective than in other states because of poor administration, a new report finds.  

Researchers at The Center for the Study of Social Policy surveyed and interviewed Mississippi parents and child care providers to understand the impact of federal stimulus efforts, namely the increased child tax credit and stabilization grants to child care centers. The authors found that while the child tax credit payments meaningfully eased financial burdens for families, grants for child care centers experienced a delayed rollout and providers have struggled from a lack of clear spending guidelines. 

The state received $319 million in federal funds for stabilization grants, which were meant to steady an industry that had experienced significant disruptions. Data from the 2021 Mississippi Child Care Market Rate Survey showed that 72% of providers closed at some point due to COVID-19, 80% had reduced enrollment, and 78% lost revenue.

Despite this, the Department of Human Services (DHS), the agency that administers the stabilization grants and has recently been embroiled in scandal, did not seek input from stakeholders when creating the process and has changed the rules of the program multiple times, according to providers and advocates interviewed in the report. 

“When we talked to stakeholders who have worked on child care for decades in Mississippi, most really pointed to issues around the limited capacity of the state agency to administer the funding,” Elisa Minoff, one of the report authors, told Mississippi Today. 

Minoff said that other states they looked at brought stakeholders into the conversation sooner to decide how to spend the stimulus funds, and created clearer guidelines and schedules for spending the money and what types of reporting were expected. She also said that for states with limited capacity like Mississippi, the federal government should be providing more support to ensure these programs run smoothly. 

Democratic state lawmakers held a hearing with DHS last month after advocates complained that the agency was not adequately answering questions from providers. 

Carol Burnett, director of the Low Income Child Care Initiative, spoke at the hearing addressing the issues with the short grant period of six months and the need for more technical assistance. DHS Director Bob Anderson responded to the concerns voiced at the hearing by saying that the agency cannot “take providers by the hand.”

“I felt like (Anderson’s comment) was dismissive of the genuine desire on the part of providers to be compliant, and a desire to know for sure if what they planned to do with the money was acceptable,” Burnett said. “Given the recent fiasco at DHS, you would think that they would be equally as eager to make sure that this grant program goes well.” 

The report also identified Mississippi’s process for applying for child care vouchers as particularly onerous, since it requires single parents to pursue child support from the non-custodial parent and frequently pushes parents out during yearly redetermination. 

Despite issues with the child care stabilization grants, the report found that the expansion of the child tax credit was an effective method of decreasing financial insecurity and pointed to other research that it could cut child poverty in Mississippi in half if made permanent. The expansion of the tax credit meant that 351,000 children in Mississippi who were previously ineligible could receive benefits last year. 

Approximately 86% of Mississippi children benefited from the credit in 2021, with the average monthly payment amounting to $439 per family, according to U.S. Department of Treasury data. 

Parents reported spending their credit on basic necessities, with the top five uses of the expanded payments being food and groceries, clothing, internet and utility bills, rent or mortgage, and child care. The majority of parents surveyed — 61% — said the credit reduced daily financial anxiety and 25% said it reduced the financial anxiety of their children. 

One parent interviewed for the report explained the usefulness of the credit, saying, “What people fail to realize is, I have a bachelor’s degree. I have a stable job. I wish I could just open up to some people like, ‘I need help.’ It might not be forever, but if I had two or three years of [government programs] to let me get higher, what’s wrong with that if our government has it. Our government spends a lot of money on a lot of stuff…That’s something that just gets on my nerves— [people say] ‘Get up and get a job.’ I got one.”

The credit was automatically available to anyone who had filed a tax return with dependents last year, but people who didn’t file taxes were still able to sign up. The authors pointed out that the ease of accessing the funds was part of what made the credit so successful, especially when compared to other government assistance. 

“The saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and that’s really true,” Minoff said. “But parents have really been doing it on their own for so long without enough support from society. With the federal investments that we saw last year, it was an indication of what could happen if we move towards providing families those holistic supports they need.”

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

1 2 3 37
Go to Top