If new Yazoo City High School girls’ basketball coach Mario Edwards ever has a problem getting his Lady Indians to do anything he asks, he really doesn’t have to say a word. All he needs to do is point to the giant-sized photo of the Yazoo City Indians 1996 State Championship team hanging on the wall inside Archie Carlyle Gymnasium and nothing else needs to be said.
Adorned on that picture is a young Edwards, the heart and soul and one of the driving forces on that Indian championship squad. To this day, Yazoo City basketball fans talk about that magical season like it was yesterday and many of those memories include stories of Edwards’ high-flying exploits. After high school, he went on to play college basketball at Mississippi Valley State University and after graduation, returned to Yazoo City and served as assistant boys’ coach in 2002-03.
Edwards was named head boys coach in 2003-04 and posted a 22-60 record in three seasons, improving his win total each season. After leaving the school district he later returned and served again as boys’ and girls’ assistant coach for the 2011-12 season.
Edwards now takes the helm of a Lady Indian program steeped in history itself, despite their recent struggles. The Lady Indians won the Class 4A State Championship in 2008-09, but in the 11 seasons since then, they have gone through four head coaches and have not made another state playoff appearance. Edwards hopes to build a foundation that reverses that recent trend and returns the Lady Indian program to prominence.
“It feels good (being back in coaching) but the best part is being able to do it at home,” said Edwards. “I just want to be able to breathe my spirit into our kids to bring back that Yazoo pride!”
You might think that a major challenge facing Edwards is the transition from coaching boys to girls, but according to Edwards you’d be wrong.
“I told them on my first day that I wouldn’t treat them like girls, I would treat them like athletes. They understood exactly where I was coming from, so I haven’t had to change my style or approach much,” said Edwards. “With girls usually being less athletic than boys, they rely on the fundamentals more often than not. They’re beginning to buy-in and I’m excited to see the heights they can reach.”
With only three seniors on the team, Edwards -like any coach of a young squad- can expect some trying times ahead, but as long as the girls continue to practice and play hard, Edwards doesn’t expect the struggles to last long.
Said Edwards, “I expect the girls to give maximum energy and effort which will always give us a chance to win. I am looking to our three seniors (guards Ebonee Brown, Doukeria Martin and forward Antaniyah Brown) to lead the way this year.”
Edwards knows the path to success and what it takes to become a champion. Anytime his Lady Indians stray off that path, he won’t have to yell or scream to get them back on track. He can glance up at the wall. It does all the talking for him.