By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
Sean Oakley has been around sports all of his life. Being the son of a coach will kind of do that to you.
But despite all of the personal and team achievements he has garnered over the years, being selected as a member of the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame took a little while to sink in for the former Louisville High School standout.
“When I first got the call, I really didn’t think about it that much, then it begin to dawn on me what it meant,” he said. “I think it is a really great honor and something you really don’t expect or plan on. To be permanently attached to a place is really special.”
Oakley was selected to the MC Hall of Fame based on his football career at the school, which also saw him excel academically. The 1992 Mississippi College graduate was a three-year starter at center for the Choctaws and was a member of the 1989 National Championship team that won the title game 3-0 in the snow in Florence, Ala. It was Oakley who snapped the ball that led to the game-winning field goal.
He was a four-year letterman at MC, earning All-Gulf South Conference honors two years and being chosen an NCAA Division II All-American his senior year. He also made the conference all-academic team three years.
But had it not been for a fiery high school head coach that came upon the scene at Louisville High School at just the right time, none of that may have happened.
“I’ve always loved baseball and was about ready to quit football,” Oakley acknowledged. “Louisville really hadn’t done a whole lot at that time and I wasn’t that passionate about it.”
Then, LHS hired Mike Justice to take over the once-proud football program.
“He met us in the gym and he lit a fire in me and most everybody,” Oakley said. “He helped us find that passion and that desire to win.”
The fire certainly caught in Oakley and the rest of the Wildcats as they went on to win MHSAA State Championships in 1985 and 1986 — the first of eight the school would eventually claim.
While Justice and his assistant coaches helped bring out Oakley’s love and passion for football, his coaching started long before high school.
The son of Bob and Doll Oakley was around a coach all of his formative years. But he is quick to point out that the parental coaching he got was very positive.
“He taught me a lot about hard work and discipline,” he said. “But we was very supportive and not overbearing. When I decided to do something he wanted me to work hard at it and do my best and was always there to talk to me and to give pointers if needed.”
Oakley was 6-foot-3 and 230-pounds during his playing days at LHS, and gained a little more than 20 pounds in college.
“I never was one of those big, strong power guys,” Oakley said. “I guess it just goes to prove that if you learn to hold well enough you can make the hall of fame,” he added with a laugh. “The coaches always wanted me to be bigger, but that was about as big as I could be and still be effective.”
He said that as a high school player he always felt that being a long-snapper would be what got him into college. He thought during the recruiting process that either Mississippi State or Ole Miss would come through with a scholarship, but in the end both schools asked him to come and play as a walk on. That left Delta State and Mississippi College as his prime scholarship offers.
“As I have been thinking about the hall of fame induction the thing I take away from it the most is that God has a plan for all of us and all of us go to certain places for a reason,” Oakley said. “I was thinking I was going to go in one direction, but God had a different plan. I ended up at Mississippi College and I will always be thankful for the education I received and the lessons I learned.”
Oakley and his wife Kendra live in Brandon and are the parents of two children — a 13-year-old daughter Mia and a 7-year-old son Sam. Their daughter is focused on competitive swimming at this point, while Sam is still dabbling in several sports.
“I hope I can do the same for them that my parents did for me,” he said. “I just want to encourage them and be there for them and teach them the right way to go about things.”
The MC Hall of Fame induction is set for 6 p.m. on April 26 at B.C. Rogers Student Center in Anderson Hall on the Mississippi College Campus. For tickets or more information call the MC Alumni Association at 601-925-3235.