Thursday, May 11, 2006
school role model
By BARRY BURLESON
Russell Hubbard almost did not make the varsity basketball team his sophomore year.
“I thought I was going to cut him,” said Chris Ferrell, then beginning his first season as head coach at Potts Camp.
Following those tryouts in 2003, Ferrell gave Hubbard a ride home to Lake Center.
“Just through the conversation I had with him, I realized his character,” Ferrell said. “It was a good conversation.
“I realized then he was special. I knew I had to keep him around the basketball program, but I didn’t really think he’d play.”
His 10th grade season, Hubbard was manager half the time and dressed out half the time. In his junior year, he earned a uniform and played five or six minutes a game. This past season, as a senior, Hubbard, 5’6” and 130 pounds, started at point guard and played every minute.
“He’s not your typical high school basketball player,” Ferrell said. “He’s undersized. The guy he had to play against was always bigger.
“People snickered, but they couldn’t measure his heart and determination and how smart he is on the floor. Five or six games into the season, no one was snickering.
“He’s the most productive point guard I’ve had in my three years here. Having him on the floor was like having the coach on the floor. I turned the game over to him many times.”
Hubbard, the son of Russell Hubbard of Lake Center and Katrina Ashley of Holly Springs, said he never considered quitting basketball.
“I’ve always wanted to play,” he said. “It got to me some (in the earlier years) - seeing someone out there who I knew I could beat. That’s the only thing that go to me.
“But I feel like I wouldn’t achieve anything if I didn’t play high school basketball.”
The Potts Camp senior credits his grandmother, Charlene Hubbard; his father; Coach Ferrell; and Henry Hood, his coach at Holy Family, with being the strongest influences in his life.
He attended Holy Family from kindergarten through eighth grade. He often stayed at his grandmother’s house in Holly Springs while growing up and played pick-up basketball against lots of talented youth.
“His grandmother has been a strong force in his life,” Ferrell said.
Hubbard said, “My grandmother, my dad, Coach Hood and Coach Ferrell have influenced me to always strive to achieve more.”
And the teenager’s success spreads further than the basketball court. He’s vice president of the Student Government Association and Mr. Potts Camp High School.
“He’s a role model, a good campus leader, never gets in trouble,” Ferrell said.
“Everything you would want in a student athlete is what Russell (Hubbard) is.
“He’s successful in the classroom and in athletics.
“His grandmother, dad and Coach Hood gave him the foundation that he has kept building on. Coach Hood has developed so many young men in Marshall County who have gone on to other schools and been academically and athletically successful.”
Hubbard plans to attend Northwest Community College and then Mississippi State University. He wants to earn a degree in secondary education and become a teacher and a coach.
“Coach Hood and Coach Ferrell have good lives, and they enjoy their professions, so that’s what I want to do,” Hubbard said.
After that initial ride home a few years ago following basketball tryouts, Ferrell and Hubbard have been regular riding partners.
“He’s ridden home with me many, many times,” he said, “through the good and the bad. There’s probably a few times he would have rather walked.”
Ferrell said he knows the young man will succeed “because of the values he has shown” in high school.
“He has persevered and persevered,” Ferrell said. “His goal was to become the starting point guard on the high school basketball team.
“He kept with it. A lot of kids would have given up, not him. He achieved his goal. That’s extremely admirable in today’s youth. It’s so much easier these days to give up. This is a good story for those in the same boat as Russell (Hubbard).
“He’s been a blessing in my life and a great source of motivation.”
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