Jones County Junior College has a new women’s head basketball coach.
Missy Bilderback, the longtime successful head coach at Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, was introduced as head coach during a press conference in the Media Room of the C.L. Neill Student Center.
She replaces 17-year Lady Bobcat head coach Sandra Sumrall, who announced her retirement earlier this month.
Bilderback said the adjustment from coaching on the high school level to the collegiate level would be different, but she is ready for the challenge.
“I was at a point, personally, where I craved a challenge and maybe something different,” Bilderback said. “Basketball is basketball. The obvious transition is the recruiting aspect, but that’s gone really well this spring.”
Bilderback, who was named associate head coach earlier this month, is familiar with JCJC. Her husband, Chip, is entering his second year as recruiting coordinator and safeties coach for the Bobcat football program.
“I have known for quite a while what a great place Jones County Junior College is and I am so excited to be here,” she said. “I am excited to be a part of the Jones’ family and that is the key word – family. The one thing I have found right off the bat is what a close-knit group it is of not only coaches, but administration and faculty here at JCJC.”
Bilderback noted that JCJC is known for its achievements in its athletic program. She credits JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith and Athletic Director Katie Herrington with providing the tools to be successful.
“The success across the board with the athletic program in general is really remarkable,” she said. “That’s something I wanted to a part of and I wanted to be a part of an athletic program where there are great expectations to be successful, not only on the court, but with the development of the total student-athlete. Dr. Smith and Coach Herrington have stressed that and that really excited me.
“Coaching is more than just basketball. I am a great competitor and I love to win, but hopefully it will be about more than just basketball for the kids that come into the program here at JCJC. I have to thank Dr. Smith, Coach Herrington and the Board of Trustees for their trust and confidence in me to lead this storied women’s basketball program.”
Dr. Smith said Bilderback has all of the qualities he wants in a coach.
“I have never studied a coach more than I have studied Coach Bilderback,” he said. “Not only did I study her resume’, I interviewed some of her players and I actually went and watched her coach. I read her bio and I read her philosophy on coaching.
“Women’s basketball is so important to Jones. I can 100 percent assure you that she is absolutely the one person we want to succeed Sandra here in this program. She is a great coach and comes from a great coaching family.”
Dr. Smith stressed the importance of athletics, especially women’s basketball at JCJC. He said the college has a tradition of outstanding coaches, as well as quality student-athletes.
“Today is a special day at JCJC for several reasons,” he said. “For 105 years, we’ve been teaching and educating and athletics is an extreme component of that and of our culture of what we do here at JCJC. We believe in student-athletes and we believe in our athletic program and how it fits into the education and the minds of the men and women that come here.
“We’ve had tremendous success at the college over that 105 years and there is a reason for it. And it goes back to the character of the men and women who we select as coaches. They are able to select and recruit good men and women of character.”
Sumrall was on hand for the press conference.
She guided the Lady Bobcats to four of its five MACJC championships in school history. She compiled a record of 239-144 at JCJC and 612-280 overall, including her tenure at West Jones High School.
Sumrall said she would miss the people at JCJC.
“It’s just like family,” Sumrall said. “I will miss it. It’s been a phenomenal journey. It’s exciting, but it is sad. These folks have been a part of my life and coaching has been a part of my life for so long.
“Everybody here has helped to set us up to be successful. I feel really good about Missy coming in and she has the same philosophy, the same love for the game and the same beliefs I have. Everything is going to be good and she’s going to do a great job and take it even further.”
Dr. Smith praised Sumrall for her tenure at Jones, especially noting the state championship her team won in 2013-14 when they defeated Southwest Mississippi in Fulton.
“Sandra retired back in the spring of 2013, but we had a little trouble,” he said. “She came back in, picked up the pieces and led us to a state championship. I remember that state championship game being one of the finest moments in JCJC history, considering where we came from and where we went. It was strictly because of her character and her will and what she taught.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to Sandra and thank her for standing in the gap and leading us for the past 17 years.”
Bilderback acknowledged Sumrall’s success and the success of Herrington, who was the head coach before Sumrall.
“A lot of people see it more as pressure, but I see it as more of an honor,” Bilderback said of following Sumrall as the JCJC women’s basketball head coach. “Coach Sumrall and Coach Herrington are two people I’ve known my whole life and I’ve looked up to them and admired them. To be considered in the same sentence as those two ladies, I just feel very honored.”
She also praised assistant coach Brooke Eccles and student assistant coach Devin Cooper for their help during the recruiting process.
“Coach Brooke and Coach Coop over the last couple of weeks have jumped in and helped me with this recruiting period, which is so crucial for next season,” Bilderback said. “I am really looking forward to the kids getting here in August and our student-athletes being on campus. I am looking forward to getting to know the kids a little better.”
Bilderback knows all about winning.
She compiled a 482-117 record at PCS, leading her team to six MAIS state championships and two MAIS Overall State crowns in 2008 and 2014. Her team was runnerup in the overall state tournament in 2013 and 2015 and she guided PCS to 14 consecutive seasons of 20-plus victories. She coached in the MAIS All-Star game in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2015.
Bilderback was named Hattiesburg American Coach of the Year in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2014.
“I have to thank my family at PCS,” she said. “I was there 16 years and feel extremely blessed to have such great student-athletes and administration there. They were a huge part in making this happen.”
The Lady Bobcats are finishing up the recruiting process. The players will go through their off-season program and come to school in August to prepare for the 2015-16 season.
Bilderback is ready to get to the court and put her players through practice.
“I have had a chance to meet a few of the returners and I feel very good about the leadership we are going to have next year,” she said. “We have had an outstanding recruiting class and that really excites me. We have not only great athletes coming in here, but great people as well and I think our community will be excited to come out and watch them and support us and make our college proud.
“I am very excited about the future of our program. It is a tremendous opportunity and it’s great to be part of something special and unique. I feel that’s what separates Jones from everyone – the uniqueness of the college in general.”
Photo Courtesy Jones County Junior CollegeTagged with: JCJC Juco Missy Bilderback