By Daniel Brunty The Choctaw Plaindealer
When you think of high school sports in small-town Mississippi, the only sports that come to mind are football, basketball, and baseball. Not many schools offer sports of larger schools in other states. So it was somewhat of a surprise at Ackerman High School back in 1994 that the school would soon offer golf as a spring sport. With not many surrounding schools not offering the sport, it would seem that it would not be a sport that would take off in popularity. However, for the first group of young men to join the team, it was almost a heaven-sent. Eddy Vaughn, a former instructor at AHS and the first ever golf coach at the school, spoke of the young group of men who excelled in the sport and put the school on the map in the golf world, as well as the beginning of golf at AHS. “Dr. Rayburn McLeod was the principal at that time,” said Vaughn. “He asked me to start a golf program because I was just one of a few people on staff who played at that time. We both had sons who played. We worked hand-in-hand on it. It started in 1994. I coached for four years before they shifted it back to the Athletic Department and started giving it to coaches. We won three district titles, a state championship, and a state runner-up in the four years that I coached.” Vaughn also told of his five starters, who would leave their mark on the school. “I had five kids that started,” said Vaughn.“Four of those played community college golf. And the fifth one went on to be a punter for Ole Miss. We had good kids that worked real hard. Their motors ran all the time.” He also spoke of their success after school, which Vaughn claims is a testament to their success during their time playing golf. “One of the guys works as Assistant A.D. at Duke,” said Vaughn.“My son became a pharmacist. Another one is a coach at this time. Another one has his own construction business, while another one started out as a pharmaceutical sales rep and now he is oversees a number of sales reps. Just a very successful bunch of kids.” Vaughn credits his five starters for the program’s immediate success at the school. “The program got off and running fast,” said Vaughn.“The first four years the team finished in the top five teams in the state every year.” Even with all the success Vaughn saw as the coach of a very successful team, he still does not feel that he was the reason for it. “I don’t want to take any credit from those guys,” said Vaughn.“They were just an outstanding group of young men. Anything in life, a lot of it is about timing. Being at the right place, at the right time, with the right group of people. You can end up with a championship in anything. These guys all liked each other, and fed off each other. They were competitors against each other and they just constantly pushed themselves. All I had to do was crank the vehicle up.” Vaughn is just grateful he was able to experience this success with such a talented group of young men. “I was just along for a great ride,” said Vaughn. “It was a pleasure to be around them. They would have been successful without me honestly.” Today’s AHS golf team can always find a positive model to follow by going back to its roots and seeing what Vaughn and his fabulous five players did in their time at the helm. Vaughn and his team will forever be remembered at the school as the pioneers of not only just winning, but succeeding in life as well.