Giving Back

Giving Back

A local elementary student received a huge surprise from the Southern Miss baseball team who took some time out of their season preparation to do something for first grader Ethan McPhail. Here is the story of how the baseball team goes beyond just stellar play on the field.

On the field, Southern Miss has high expectations this season. Off the field, however, they have already achieved a status of greatness to a local elementary school.

"On the 100th day of school which was January 22, the first graders at Sumrall elementary released balloons in the air," explains Jena McPhail, mother of Ethan who is a first grader at Sumrall Elementary school.

"In the balloons was the school name, teacher's name, and the child's name."

A tradition of Sumrall elementary first grade is to see if anyone will take the time to get back to them as they send these balloons all over the Pine Belt.

This year, they finally received a response.

"Ours ended up falling on Pete Taylor Park. When Ethan got to school he had a huge packet from the baseball office at Southern Miss," Ethan's mother goes on to explain.

"They had found it, signed a card for Ethan, gave him a baseball shirt and a picture of the Coach that was signed."

As it turns out, the only balloon sent that received a response came from the Golden Eagle baseball team.

"Most of the time the kids don't get anything back from this," she said. "It just totally made his day.

"The teacher said he was smiling and walked around and showed all the other teachers and the office staff. They even announced it over the loud speaker at school. He had to call all his family and read them the card that he was sent by the baseball players." Ethan McPhail, who plays baseball himself, said his goal is to now one day play for the Golden Eagles.

"I love Southern Miss baseball now, I was so surprised to actually get something back," Ethan said. "Being the only one to get something back was really cool."

This act of kindness from the Southern Miss baseball team demonstrates the type of athletes being recruited by Scott Berry and the type of program they hope to have.

"It shows the community that these players are not only talented on the field, but that they give back to the community and they can be great role models for our children," Jena McPhail said.

Southern Miss is 3-0 after an early sweep of Missouri. They travel to Alabama today to try and continue a hot start.

Regardless of how they do on the field, one elementary school child will always see these players as ones who have given back.

"They are all heros in Ethan's life," Jena added. "They will never know what difference taking the time to give back will make in his life."

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