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Four JA Students Tapped for College Athletic Teams


Jackson Academy athletes (from left) Noah Thigpen, Olivia Stringer, Edwin Smith, and Jack Gnam indicated their intent to play college sports at a signing ceremony November 8 in the Learning Commons.


Noah Thigpen

Noah Thigpen of Jackson will join the baseball team at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Noah has earned accolades in baseball and football at JA. He was named the ninth grade football Best Offensive player and was a member of the varsity baseball team. As a sophomore, Noah was named a Clarion Ledger top performer once in baseball and twice in football. As a junior, he was a member of the varsity football team and voted offensive MVP twice during the regular season. Also, Noah was voted 1st team MAIS All-Conference, 1st team MAIS All-State, and helped lead JA to the 2017 MAIS Baseball State Championship runner-up finish.


Olivia Stringer

Olivia Stringer of Jackson signed on to play volleyball at Birmingham Southern. During her volleyball career at JA she has achieved 428 kills, 33 blocks, 271 digs, 164 aces, and 450 receptions. She is a member of the Lady Raiders volleyball team that has achieved four back-to-back MAIS State Championships.


Edwin Smith

Edwin Smith of Ridgeland has been recognized for his performance in a number of travel teams including the 2018 Graduate WWBA National Championship All-Tournament Team 2017, the 2017 NABF 18U World Series World Championship Team, the 2018 Graduate NABF 18U World Series All-tournament team, the 2017 State Games of Mississippi Championship team, the 2017 NABF 17U World Series Jackson Championship Team, the 2017 NABF 17U World Series Jackson Championship All-tournament team, and the 2018 Graduate WWBA Perfect Game Champions 2016. A 2017 team captain, Edwin was also a member of the 2015 MAIS Baseball State Championship team. Edwin will join the baseball team at Meridian Community College.


Jack Gnam

Jack Gnam of Ridgeland, who has played varsity golf for JA since seventh grade, is the No. 1 ranked junior in Mississippi for the Class of 2018. He has been on the Mississippi Preps All State team for 2015, 2016, and 2017. He has a 72 overall high school scoring average. Jack earned a spot on the golf team at the University of Mississippi.



Video provided by JA Raider Network.

JA Swimmers Earn Overall Championship


The Jackson Academy Swim Team once again has shown that we’re simply better together! JA swimmers won the MAIS Overall Championship that is awarded to the school with the most points in first through twelfth grades. In the elementary division, JA brought home a second place trophy. Congratulations to all the JA swimmers!

Individual and team placements and records:

  • Isabella Conn broke a record in 25 Free with a time of 13.34
  • Parker Bracken 2nd in 50 Free
  • 7th-9th Boys Free Relay 3rd
    Jackson Conn, Ford Hudson, Adams Kennedy and Parker Ryan
  • 7th-9th Girls Free Relay 1st
    Ava Crawford, Julianna Copeland, Alice Williams, Parker Bracken
  • Jackson Conn 1st in 50 Breast
  • Parker Bracken 3rd in 50 Breast
  • Jackson Conn 2nd 50 Back
  • Ava Crawford 3rd 50 Back
  • Ava Crawford 2nd 50 Fly
  • 7th-9th Boys Medley Relay 3rd place
    Jackson Conn, Adams Kennedy, Ford Hudson, Will Adams
  • 7th-9th girls Medley 2nd place
    Julianna Copeland, Parker Bracken, Alice Williams, Ava Crawford
  • 1st-3rd boys Free Relay 2nd
    Smith Haralson, Parker Orr, Barron Mosal, Walter Towery
  • 1-3 girls Free Relay 2nd
    Anna Hollady Craft, Brianna Wang, Adrianna Wang, Sarah Kathryn Williams
  • Walter Towery 1st place back stroke
  • Brianna Wang 3rd place backstroke
  • Walter Towery 2nd place 100 IM
  • Brianna Wang 2nd place 100 IM
  • Parker Orr 2nd place 25 Breast
  • Adrianna Wang 2nd place 25 Breast
  • Smith Haralson 2nd place 25 Fly
  • Sarah Kathryn Williams 3rd place 25 Fly
  • Smith Haralson 3rd place 50 Free
  • Adrianna Wang 1st place 50 Free
  • 1-3 Girls Medley Relay 1st Place
    Anna Holladay Craft, Sarah Kathryn Williams, Adrianna Wang, Brianna Wang
  • 4-6 boys 3rd Place Free Relay
    Baird Kennedy, Major Quin, Cole Gideon, Cam Walker
  • 4-6 Girls Free Relay 1st place
    Katherine Gault, Anna Kate Lucas, Liles Williams, Isabella Conn
  • Major Quin 2nd Place 50 Back
  • Major Quin 2nd Place 100 IM
  • Baird Kennedy 3rd Place 25 Free
  • Isabella Conn 1st Place 50 Breast
  • Liles Williams 3rd place 50 Fly
  • 4-6 Girls Medley Relay 1st place
    Katherine Gault, Anna Kate Lucas, Liles Williams, Isabella Conn

Fan Experience a Highlight of the Game for Coach Walker


Jackson Academy is happy to welcome Coach Brandt Walker as associate athletic director. In addition to his associate director role, Walker is the defensive coordinator for the Junior High football team and assists with Varsity football and the boys and girls track teams. Walker comes to JA with 14 years of coaching experience, including a decade as football and track coach at Jackson Prep.

As he begins his new role, Walker intends to highlight the Athletic Department’s existing strengths. Part of his job is keeping up with logistics such as ticket sales, player eligibility, and the athletic calendar. Of Walker’s plans, the one that brings the most excitement to his voice is his plan to elevate the fan experience. When he describes Fridays at JA, you can feel fall football in the air.

“I love Fridays during football season,” he explained. “It’s an experience unlike any other. Going to pep rallies and then after three o’clock when school is out and they are starting to cook the hamburgers in the concession stand..the music is going…it’s the greatest time of year.” That tangible excitement is what Walker hopes to ignite in others by promoting athletics through social media and collaboration with the Raider Network, an internet broadcast that highlights student achievements in athletics and arts while exposing students to the latest opportunities in broadcasting and production.

‘The Raider Network is phenomenal,” said Walker. “There is nothing like it in the state. Even the places that we play watch Raider Network. They watch it because it is such good quality.”

Walker’s passion for coaching is driven by the interpersonal relationship built
between coach and athlete. He enjoys building rapport with students early and watching them mature and progress. Walker shares how the relationship between coach and athlete doesn’t end at graduation, “Years later, after a former athlete graduates, you go to
someone’s wedding and a former player approaches you and shares how they are sorry for the stupid things they did when you coached them, apologizing for the way they acted, and then they say thank you. You can’t put money on that. Those experiences are awesome.”  He is also proud when he sees his former players thriving in their careers. “Those moments where you see their success is truly what it is all about,” he said.

Besides coaching for 10 years at Jackson Prep, two years at Copiah Academy, and while attending college, two years at Simpson Academy, Walker himself attended an independent school, Simpson Academy. Like many coaches before him, Walker took a coaching hiatus. He tried his hand in sales. “I wanted to get back into coaching; it is what I was made to do,” he said. His wife recognized his bent for coaching and encouraged him to return to the job he loved. “She told me, ‘I want you to be a coach again. I know that’s what makes you happy—it’s what you were created to do.”

Walker is married to Jennifer, the director of professional development at the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, and their daughter, Mary Hampton, is a sixth grader at JA.

Walker looks forward to many Fridays spent cheering on the Raiders. “Everybody’s got a pep in their step on Fridays. I have game day pants that I wear. This tradition started when I was given the pants as a gift at Prep and has continued at JA.  Last week a package appeared in my box and it was, you guessed it, Raider colored game day pants. The tradition continues.”

Lady Raiders Repeat MAIS Championship Title Win


Congratulations to the JA Lady Raiders! The team attained its 40th win and the MAIS Overall Championship title at Mississippi College Saturday. The Lady Raiders defeated Kirk Academy 52-39 for the title. Named to the MAIS Overall All Tournament Team were De’ja Bradford, Conley Chinn, Emily McNair, Lauran Sheriff, and Malon Stratton.

The Lady Raiders won 59-25 in Monday’s game against Leake to advance to the second round of the overall tournament. Wins against Oak Forest (58-28) on Wednesday and Marshall (40-15) on Friday earned the team a spot in the championship game.

The boys varsity team advanced to the overall tournament, winning their first round game against Canton Academy 57-48. In the second round, they had a 70-44 win over Riverdale and ended their season in a 63-61 loss to Hartfield in the third round. Micah Morgan was named to the All Tournament team.

WheelCats Get Game Time with JA Varsity and Faculty


The Mississippi WheelCats are the only wheelchair basketball team in the state, so their actual games require travel to Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, and other states. Friday, during activity period, JA hosted a game with the boys varsity basketball team, faculty, and the Mississippi WheelCats. The event was a perfect time for the WheelCats to prep for their upcoming season and a great opportunity to bring awareness of wheelchair athletics to the JA community.

View all the photos from the event here.

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