Jays get championship rings in ceremony

By Staff, 07/9/20 9:19 AM

ROSSTON – It was all about the bling.

Wednesday night the gym at Nevada High School was partially-filled with family, friends and Blue Jay fans, along with the school’s faculty and staff, as the Jays received their championship rings after winning the 2020 Class A State Basketball title in February. This was one of the last games played before everything was shut down by the coronavirus.

Nevada was able to get revenge over Izzard County Consolidated, as Izzard County had beaten the Jays in 2019 for the title. However, it came down to a missed shot in the final seconds of the game for Nevada to seal the win and capture the crown.

Those attending the ceremony had their temperatures checked when they walked into the building. All had to wear masks, but nobody was complaining as this gave the community something to celebrate.

Along with their championship rings, the team was also presented with its other awards and honors during the event. Superintendent Rick McAfee gave instructions for social distancing, pointing out families could sit together, but people could only sit in every other row and those not related had to sit six-feet apart.

McAfee said these guidelines will also be used for Nevada’s graduation Thursday night. He pointed out the state approved the plan for this ceremony and the district followed guidelines established by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). He gave instructions on how the assembly was to be dismissed – one section at a time.

In talking about the masks, McAfee said the ADH is saying they’ll be around the next two years. The masks, he reminded the audience, are to protect others.

“It’s been a great year and it’s time to celebrate,” he said. “Champion does have a ring to it.” The rings, he added, have 17 stones, one for each player. This, he told the audience, is because it’s important to recognize the contributions of all the players as they all worked to make this happen.

NHS Principal Jason Arrington said this is a special time and the team worked hard to earn it. He read the players’ names and the awards they received.

Jay Coach Bobby Mullins said this title wasn’t something the team did by itself, as it took the entire community working to make it happen. “This has been a long time coming. We’ve had some good teams, but couldn’t get over the hump. This year, we did.”

Mullins said they thought having to play the title game at 1:45 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon was a bad idea at the time, but are glad things worked out as it was one of the last games played. He said the senior members of the team will be sorely missed when they graduate and called the squad the most competitive group of kids he’s ever had.

“I appreciate everyone who helped,” he said, “we couldn’t have done this without you. It’s all about the community.”

McAfee closed the ceremony saying the title photo was finished Wednesday and will be hung, along with a championship banner by the time school starts. “I’m proud of this team.”

He told the audience Farmer’s Bank and Trust donated $8,000 for the purchase of the rings and will be presented an autographed copy of the poster depicting the jewelry. The poster, he added, will be on display in the bank’s lobby.

Another poster was presented to Coach Mullins by the seniors. “I think next  year this will say ‘back to back’.” McAfee said.