By Marilyn Miller
The Minden Lions Club met Thursday, July 27, 2023 at the American Legion Hall downtown. Lion Henry Bridges introduced special guest, Minden High School Principal, Dr. Rebecca Wilson, who talked about the “hot topics” around town right now – construction projects.
Prior to that she introduced Webster Parish School Superintendent Johnny Rowland and Construction supervisor Jeff Franklin.
And then she thanked the Minden Lions Club. “I love the Lions Club. On Friday nights you give up your time to be there taking up tickets (at all home football games)…in this heat, you sacrifice for us. Thank you for the many different ways you support us.”
The first construction project Dr. Wilson talked about is at MHS. The expansive building will hold classrooms, athletic facilities, and more. “We sincerely need more classroom space…and I just hope construction progresses.”
The second project brought sadness and joy. The “old gym” which most of the population of Minden played or watched basketball in or swam in had to be torn down to make space for an enlarged football stadium after ‘Mother Nature’ destroyed most of the home and visitors stands, concession facilities and restrooms at the existing stadium.”
“The visitors side was not touched during reconstruction,” Dr. Wilson explained. “Now we’re putting up a whole new grandstand (for visitors), which should be ready for the first home game on September 1.”
The third project is a “phenomenal” Girls’ Softball Complex being constructed by Don M. Barron Contractor, Inc. of Farmerville on the former site of Lowe Jr. High School on Clerk Street.
“We already have people asking to use it,” Dr. Wilson exclaimed. Minden High School has never had a ballfield dedicated to girls’ softball. “As a softball player, I remember gettting dressed and being hauled to Babbs Park. So I’m just thrilled that our kids will have a place of their own.”
Dr. Wilson then introduced Minden High School Softball Coach Shelby Leach, who is starting her third year with the Lady Tiders, and who also teaches Freshman English.
Coach Leach professed that coming to Minden was the “greatest decision I ever made. It’s an honor to be a part of Minden. You guys love everything. You pack the stands…I may be loud and obnoxious, but I see you. Your commitment has propelled us to new heights.”
Looking back at her first year, she recalls her team being ranked No. 1 early in the season. By the time the play-offs rolled around they were ranked No. 4 and didn’t make it past the first round.
“I was talking to my mom…kinda down…not knowing what to do,” she said. Coach Leach had enjoyed moderate success with teams she coached at Loyola, BPCC, Southern Arkansas…
But she “wanted to come to Minden” to, perhaps, change that. “My mom told me you have to ‘expect great things’ from them. And let them know that.”
That’s what she has done…convinced them to “buy into my crazy.” Minden High went 19-11 last season. They won 18 games the season prior to that.
Our team “still faces challenges,” Coach Leach said. She wants to instill more than ball-handling, catching, throwing and batting skills into them. “I’d like to see them realize personal growth…learn values, dignity, respect, sportsmanship…to become positive influences.”
All of these traits were evident at the Softball Camp that her team just hosted at the Minden Recreation Center. Tossing out a deep thanks to Minden Rec, she acknowledged that “We have been so blessed with the building of this facility.” She thanked Superintendent Rowland and the Webster Parish School Board for approving the construction. Opening day at the complex will pit Minden against Lakeside in February. Look out Supt. Rowland!
Coach Leach is awed that 25 athletes have signed up to play this season. “We will have a varsity and a junior varsity this year for the first time. It’s going to be a challenge to fill out the line-ups. The kids are excited to be out there (at the new complex). The Lord is in what we are doing!”
Dr. Wilson added that “the Minden High Softball Team needs the support of the community. We can’t do it alone,” she said. “There are financial challenges…working hard to bridge the gap between our wonderful School Board and welcoming donations from the community, whether that’s ticket-taking or yelling your support!”
Her motto at MHS is “One team, one dream; one Tide, one family!”
Minden is realizing that dream with the “best facility in the State of Louisiana. Not another school in Louisiana has the facility we have.”