Posted on May 17, 2018
Our thanks to USM Golden Eagles Head Football Coach, Jay Hopson,
for providing our program last Tuesday. Coach Hopson is pictured with
Hattiesburg Club President, Paula Brahan.
President Paula Brahan presided over today’s meeting. Mallory Donald gave today’s invocation and Mary Cromartie led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Wes Brooks and Mary Cromartie served as our greeters today.
Mike then introduced today’s guests. Ben Donald has Bryan Sinclair as his guest. Mallory Donald has Stewart Deen as her guest. Jerry Gilder’s wife, Nancy, is his guest.  Chris Dudley has our guest speaker Jay Hopson as his guest along with Stephen Pugh. Stephen was the winner of today’s card draw.
Paula asked if there were any announcements from members. Elizabeth Gillentine reported that our RYLA scholarship winner will attend William Cary University and is graduating from high school with honors. She hopes to attend a club meeting this summer and give us a report on her RYLA experience. Lamar Evans reported that his son received two Academic Awards from Sacred Heart School today.
Denny Bubrig reported that the fundraising committee plans to roll out Rotary Polo shirts and hats within the next couple of weeks. The logo will include something about our club’s centennial celebration year. Prices for the shirts are expected to range from $20 to $25 while hats will cost between $15 and $20.
Chris Dudley then introduced today’s guest speaker, the University of Southern Mississippi’s head football coach, Jay Hopson. Coach Hopson has a 26-year coaching record on the collegiate level and has been a Golden Eagle coach on two previous occasions. He is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Coach Hopson message is: “We need your help!” He is asking every business in Hattiesburg to buy 5 to 10 season tickets and sell-out the Rock this year. With a sold out stadium, this football season all Athletic Department expenses for the year in every sport will be covered. He also noted that they are doing a number of things to increase student support and involvement. They’ve created a “Whose Zeus” program that guarantees one USM student at least one snap next year.
Having a full stadium not only covers the program’s expenses it helps in player recruitment. Coach Hopson says when a potential player visits our area and gets a feel for Hattiesburg, our environment, our living conditions and then sees a full stadium with supporting fans, they are much more likely to sign with USM.
Twenty-five (25%) percent of student athletics are business majors at USM. Coach says that academic achievement is only second to spiritual growth in his program. Students are encouraged to get their degrees and then play football if given an opportunity. He also says he encourages consistency throughout the football program. If citizens support USM football consistently, if players are consistent in their playing and studies and if the athletic department is consistent in improving our facilities and our programs, then the University wins and the entire community wins.
A number of recent improvements within the athletic facility have made our program more competitive. Coach Hopson says USM has one of, if not the best, dressing rooms in all of the conference. Additional improvements that Coach would like to see in the future include indoor facilities and an increase in pay for the coaching staff. He says it is really hard to keep a good assistant coach who can go to another program similar to USM’s and make as much as $200,000 more each year.
USM will host six home games next year. Including in those games are Marshall, Jackson State University, Rice, Monroe and Louisiana Tech.
To learn more about the USM Athletic program, or to sign up for season tickets visit
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned by Paula with our motto, “Service Above Self.”