State Games 2003 blasts off
By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
June 21, 2003
For the past couple of years, State Games of Mississippi Executive Director April Luke has been trying to get Cincinnati resident and U.S. Olympian George Wilson to the annual event held in Meridian.
Wilson, who won the gold medal in men's basketball at the 1964 Tokyo Games, was on hand to give the keynote address to the 5,000-plus spectators and 1,800 athletes who took part in the ceremonies at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium.
Wilson, a 6-10 forward, was also the top player on the University of Cincinnati's 1962 NCAA National Championship basketball team. Two of his teammates on the 1964 gold medal team were former U.S. Senator and New York Knick Phil Bradley and new Detroit Pistons head coach Larry Brown.
Wilson said following in the footsteps of NBA Hall of Famer and legend Oscar Robinson provided much of his motivation.
Wilson played seven seasons in the NBA before retiring. He later started a long career in the Cincinnati public school system. Wilson's motto to the athletes on Friday night was simple: "Life is a game, play to win."
Wilson later took part in delivering the athletes' oath. Also helping to give that oath was five-time Olympian Willye White and 1968 gold medalist Mildrette Netter Graves.
White, a Greenwood native now living in Chicago, was excited to be a part of the games again. She delivered the athletes oath last year.
Before the speeches, some 50 cities and communities were represented in the parade of athletes. Most were teams representing youth soccer and youth softball that begin competition today in the Meridian area.
Ten of the State Games' 28 events get under way in the first official weekend of the games. The sports include adult basketball, archery, powerlifting, stickball, table tennis, track and field, volleyball, youth soccer and youth softball.