By Raquel Williams
March is Women’s month, and what better way to spark a blaze of inspiration than to acknowledge a woman who is fearless and feisty. There is a special spotlight reserved for Mrs. Nikevia Watson Maddox, also known as Nikki, hailing from Mound Bayou to Memphis to Tutwiler, MS. She is married to Clarksdale High School’s Head Football Coach, Johnny Maddox, works as a Lead teacher at Jonestown Elementary and has been in education for 15 years. She is the mother of 11-year-old Landen, a sixth grader at Clarksdale Collegiate. Not only is he a scholar who makes all A’s, but he is a big hitter with the travel baseball team Clarksdale Thunder 11U. Coach Shaun Redwine was eager to share the following statement, “We know that Clarksdale is a community that always steps up when needed.” But the Maddox family never asked for help.
In the Spring of 2022, the Maddox family was met with an ultimate set of challenges. Nikki had some hard choices to make. As a woman of faith, she put her trust in God and allowed her husband to take the reins. A stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, a swift mass removal, the first cycle of chemo and target drug, and a major announcement for Johnny…Head Coach of a gridiron powerhouse team. Men don’t understand how hard it is to relinquish control. Most mothers and wives, especially, see themselves as the heart of the family unit. It’s unfathomable to consider a family without a maternal figure, not just for domestic responsibilities but for nurturing, encouraging, and organizing.
June of 2022…Baseball season & hospitalization put the family in a most compromising position. Nikki didn’t give up control but allowed the village to step in. What you may not know is that there is a group of baseball moms who are relentless when it comes to their baseball boys and their families year-round. In true Clarksdale fashion, in swoops the Baseball community. Coach Shaun drilled, “First of all, I asked everyone to help support Nikevia and her family during their battle with cancer. It’s not an easy task, but I know this family will fight.”
Aside from the positive response to treatment which allows Nikki some normalcy in life, the support system provided by the “mommy squad” allows for a quality of life. Being a mom and a wife is hard without the wearies of cancer. Nikki never wavered, though. She has always been quiet and humble, and her serene spirit made it easy for the community to want to help her and her family without question. Moms like Tracy Strong, who has boys playing for the Wildcats and the Thunder, accepted the call without asking any questions. She immediately took to social media to start selling tickets. Redwine, 11U Thunder Coach, got emotional, saying, “when we heard about the diagnosis, we wanted to rally behind the family, and what better way than to do it than through the baseball teams. I’ve coached boys on all these teams and felt comfortable pulling everybody together!”
Maddox was asked about the Cats and the Colts coming together for a fundraiser and his thoughts and feelings about this whole ordeal. The giant of a man seemed quite reserved as he spoke about the outpouring of support from when he was named head coach to now, as he again makes a tough decision. Coach Maddox is stepping down after just one year as head coach. He led the Wildcats in a winning season, only losing one regular season game against their biggest rival, South Panola. Maddox reminisced about Dee Brown, who purchased championship rings for the 1996-97 season when Maddox was a Junior and played left tackle on the offensive line.
26 years later, Maddox led the Wildcats to the second round of playoffs. Mr. Brown’s reaction was as authentic as any. He expressed his support for the family first, the players, and the community. He was sure to say that he understands the discomfort of having to prioritize but that he respects Maddox as a man and will continue to support his decisions as a husband, a father, and a coach.
Students’ reactions to Maddox leaving are charged with positive energy as they were quite concerned for Mrs. Maddox and sympathetic for her son. Maddox boldly stated that he wanted to leave the program in a better state than he found it and reiterated, “once a wildcat, always a wildcat.’ He encouraged the boys by saying, “If you can’t commit 100%, don’t do it.”
The day the Maddox’s said, “I do,” they committed to each other. Maddox is choosing his wife, and he is locked in, and the city of Clarksdale is all in as well. The Cats and the Colts will be hosting a BBQ fundraiser on March 13, at Lee Academy, 4-8 pm, during a regular season game for both Lee Academy and Clarksdale High.
Coach Jay Washington, owner/operator of Zee’s BBQ, will be behind the grill serving up boston butts & baked beans. Coach Jay is also connected to the baseball community as a little league and travel ball coach and parent of players. He and his wife have been in a similar situation and understand what it’s like to have the family dynamic disturbed due to unavoidable circumstances. Coach Jay was excited about his role in the fundraiser and shared that he was preparing to celebrate his wife’s birthday. He knows the importance of celebrating life with his special woman. Zee’s BBQ restaurant is named after his mother, who passed away a few years ago. He offered words of encouragement for Coach Maddox” we will be praying for healing and full restoration of his wife. Us baseball daddies and coaches know the role our women play in the success of these programs.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket can contact Coach Shaun Redwine, 662-390-6828 or Coach Johnny Maddox, 662-902-9889 or Coach McGregory, 662-313-3230 (firstname.lastname@example.org)