Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Oxford Stories: Thank You, Rebel Family

Connor Hennessy
Connor Hennessy

A little over three years ago, I was given an opportunity to join the athletics staff at Ole Miss, and since the call from (then Softball SID) Metz Camfield, I’ve been on a joyride I could only dream of.

Everything started with a non-conference midweek game against No. 10 Louisiana State University at the Softball Complex. (Don’t worry I was confused too.) Since my first night at Ole Miss Softball, I’ve had opportunities many students my age long for throughout undergrad. I have voiced who knows how many sporting events and have been on hand for the good, bad and ugly with Rebel sports.

I’ve been at Vaught-Hemingway for happiness in victory and sadness in defeat. I was on the field when we won the Egg Bowls, Ritter’s kick against LSU, and when the goal posts came down after beating ‘Bama.

On the contrary, I was also there for the 2011 Homecoming nightmare against Louisiana Tech, Manziel’s coming out party in 2012, and the overtime 4th-and-25 heartbreaker against Arkansas in 2015.

I was at Tad Smith Coliseum for Marshall, Murphy, Nick, and Reggie as they made a run all the way to the 2013 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, and was under the basket as AK cut down the nets in the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Two years later, I was there when Matt Insell brought the girls back to the postseason in 2015, hosting an opening round WNIT win vs. UT Martin. I was also around for the grand opening at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in 2016, and watched as Stefan Moody etched his name into greatness.

I was at Swayze Field for countless “beverage” showers, walk-off wins, and watched from afar as the Rebs finally broke through to Omaha in 2014. I have had the great joy of announcing so many softball games and various other events at soccer, volleyball and tennis. The 2015 NCAA Regional here in Oxford was pretty neat, so thanks for letting me have that one Tyler.

The best part of working at Ole Miss though was the people I’ve met along the way. There are so many good people in Oxford, but especially on this campus. I have met and gotten to know so many great coaches, student-athletes, coworkers and fans because of my job that I will now forever call my friends.

It was particularly a pleasure working with the head coaches I was assigned to throughout my time here. Chris Malloy at men’s golf, Matt Insell at women’s basketball, Michele Drinkard and Kory Henkes at women’s golf, and Windy Thees and Mike Smith at softball. They were always kind to me when I was around, and I’m thankful for that.

Adding to that … the student-athletes make this job fun. It’s all for them and their success on the field or court anyway. The women’s golf and softball girls are the ones I’ve grown particularly close too. Both groups struggled mightily at times while I was here, but I’m glad they’re both on the right track under new leadership.

Without question, I wouldn’t have the opportunities without the people I’ve learned from. Those who I crossed paths with in the Ole Miss marketing and communications area were so very good to me – especially the media relations wing. All – thank you. There’s no way I could list everyone, but I do have a special shout out.

The last three years, Jessica Poole has taught me so much about what it takes to work in this field. She’s been there for me from start to finish, telling me what to do when I didn’t know enough and putting me in my place when I knew too much.

To say I literally would be lost in the woods somewhere without Jess would be a gross understatement. I’d be nowhere without her friendship and guidance. She’s been my fearless leader for two years, and I’ll forever be her grasshopper (inside joke). Jess – from the bottom of my heart – thank you.

For now, it’s off to the Ouachita National Forest but I look forward to returning in the coming years to cheer for the Red and Blue. I’d be silly not to throw in a little plug and tell you that you can send a child to Camp Ozark in memory of my boy Noah Riche before I closed.

That’s all I have, so thanks for hanging around to read all of that. Cheers to the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. From #AllIn and #TakeAStand with Rebel football, #RiseUp and #NoCeilings with women’s basketball to #TELEO and watching the #MississippiMermaids at Rebel Softball … it’s all been a thrill. To all of you in between – thank you.


Connor Hennessy can be reached at cmhennes@go.olemiss.edu.

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