Moore reflects on having Coahoma County gym named after him

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By Josh Troy

Clarksdale Advocate

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was recently held in celebration of the Coahoma County Jr./Sr. High School gym being named the Derrick Moore Gymnasium.

A Bobo native and resident and 1996 Coahoma County High School graduate, Derrick Moore came back to his alma mater to make a difference. The Coahoma County School District recognized his contributions by naming the gym after him.

Moore said having the gym named after him was a “proud moment” and “surreal,” and he has been ecstatic ever since he learned about the honor.

“It’s a great, great thing,” he said. “While it bears my name, this is more than just about me. It’s about my wife, my children, my mom, my dad, my aunts and uncles, cousins – all my players. This is everybody. This is not just the Derrick Moore Gymnasium; this is a tribute to everyone who came in here and put in the work for it. Of course, I was the head coach, but this wouldn’t have happened without all of these people.”

Moore has been teaching and coaching in the CCSD since 2004. He has been a math teacher throughout his tenure and has coached basketball in various capacities.

Currently, Moore is the head coach for both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. He took over the varsity boys’ program and has won five state championships in the past seven years. The Red Panthers clinched championships in 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2023.

“Each one of those championship-winning teams holds a special place,” Moore said.

Moore mentioned that while many schools have big-name players, the Red Panthers do not. Nevertheless, he highlighted the team’s depth and versatility over the years.

“We may not have players consistently scoring 30 points a night, but we have players who can put up 20 points if needed,” he said. “Our scoring can come from multiple players. We possess significant talent that allows multiple players to step up and make significant contributions on any given night. This showcases how they sacrifice personal achievements for the betterment of the team. We maintain a well-rounded strength in all positions every night.”

The Most Valuable Player awards in the five state championship games have been awarded to athletes in various positions on the court. Guard Keion Cosby was the MVP in 2017, center Jai’Sheldon Yates was the MVP in 2018, guard Bentavious Galmore was the MVP in 2020, forward and center Tylin Martin was the MVP in 2021, and guard Cam’ron Bell was the MVP in 2023.

Moore’s coaching journey in the CCSD began when he assumed the role of assistant boys’ basketball coach under the leadership of Isaiah Peterson in 2004. The Red Panthers secured back-to-back state championships in 2005 and 2006 while Moore served as an assistant. He also coached the Red Panthers’ junior high team from 2005 to 2015 and claimed five championships during that period.

Around 2007 or 2008, Moore took on the role of coaching the Lady Red Panthers.

Throughout Moore’s tenure, the girls won several district championships and were state runners-up in 2017 and 2020.

“We had a highly successful run with our high school girls,” he said.

Moore mentioned that his junior high boys would often scrimmage against the high school girls, and he credited the girls with preparing the junior high boys for their championship victories.

“I must give credit to the high school girls for their contribution,” he said.

Moore has also coached track, with several of his athletes securing individual championships.

“We’ve proudly hung up some championship banners around here,” he said.

The Moore family has been deeply ingrained in the CCSD.

Moore’s father, Johnnie, serves on the school board. His son, Derrick Jr., was part of the 2017 and 2018 state championship teams and currently serves as an assistant coach. His brother, Daryl, also holds an assistant coaching position. His cousin, Thomas Williams, keeps track of stats, while his cousin, Jonnetta Robinson Williams, coaches the junior high girls’ team.

“It’s a family affair within the Coahoma County schools,” Moore said. “My family attended school here. My children attended here. I attended here. I played sports here, and so did my family. We’re dedicated Coahoma County enthusiasts.”

The Moore family is close-knit, and Moore has cultivated many friendships within his community.

“One notable aspect of growing up in Coahoma County is that I’ve coached my family, my friends’ children,” he said. “My family has consistently supported me, regardless of our location. This sense of community and family runs deep. It’s a communal and familial endeavor.”

While Moore has earned championships as a coach, he firmly believes that academics take precedence over athletics. He attributes his parents for instilling in him the drive to achieve A’s in the classroom during his childhood.

“That was essentially my goal,” Moore said. “I held the same standard for my children.”

Moore noted that his son, Derrick Jr., was the valedictorian in elementary school, and his daughter, Dararion Moore, was the salutatorian.

Moore emphasizes academics with his athletes and in his math classroom.

“Many people might regard Delta kids as somehow lesser,” he said. “Our objective is to ensure that our students stand on equal footing with their counterparts across the state in both academics and athletics.”

Moore strives to foster a professional attitude in the classroom, which he believes translates to effective learning for his students.

“Respect is key,” he said. “Students must respect authority. Gaining respect doesn’t involve becoming overly friendly with them. Instead, you approach them with a professional mindset, focusing on teaching. You need to get them to comprehend that we’re here to learn. I’m not adopting a military approach, but I do expect them to fulfill the tasks I assign. Once this understanding is established, students respect and engage more readily in learning.”

Moore praised Superintendent Dr. Virginia Young and the rest of the CCSD for their commitment to academics.

“It’s evident throughout the district,” Moore noted. “We emphasize it. Our administrators prioritize it. Good grades are non-negotiable. Our Superintendent set high standards for this year – she aims for every student to achieve a 3.0 GPA or higher. We must raise the bar, and that’s a positive aspiration.”

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