Kosciusko head coach and former Mississippi State player Jemmye Ann Helms, left, and assistant coach Jessica Dickens, seated, watch the Lady Whippets play at the Starkville Sportsplex Tuesday afternoon. Dickens was an assistant coach under Glenn Schmidt at Starkville Academy. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
One coach entered the mind of Jemmye Ann Helms when it came time to establish a staff at Kosciusko High School.
When Helms took the job as head coach at Kosciusko, she was asked by the administration there who would be a good hire as an assistant.
There wasn't much hesitation to contact former Starkville Academy assistant and Winston Academy head coach Jessica Dickens.
Helms saw Dickens' work under coach Glenn Schmidt at SA and learned of her reputation.
"I was good friends with coach Schmidt and tried to keep up with the job she was doing at Starkville Academy," Helms said. "I knew she had hired coach Dickens and spoke highly of her. I saw (Dickens') teams play and they always played real hard. She is a good teacher and constantly teaches the game. I knew if she teaches that much in a game, she's got to be a great teacher in practice too.
"With her work ethic, she's very professional. You notice that stuff immediately in just meeting other coaches. She did such a good job at Starkville Academy, then I knew she had moved to Winston and they improved tremendously."
After being asked if she'd be interested in coaching at the Attala County school, Dickens gave it a great deal of thought.
She hated to leave Winston Academy because of the progress the Lady Patriots made in the past year, but the chance to help coach the Lady Whippets was too good to pass up.
"Kosciusko is a great school district and great administration so I thought it would be a great place to go," Dickens said.
Helms and Dickens have joined forces and look forward to the possibilities at Kosciusko.
The Lady Whippets have been participating in the high school summer league at the Starkville Sportsplex. Dickens has been learning from Helms, Helms has been learning from Dickens and the players have been learning from the coaches.
"We've just worked together this summer, but so far, we seem to be working together really well," Dickens said. "We have great girls and it's been a good transition so far.
"We definitely have a lot of work to do, but it's been good for us and we've gotten better in just the little bit of time we've spent with them. I know we're going to make leaps and bounds of progress with them."
Dickens doesn't take lightly the knowledge gained from Schmidt during her days of helping coach the Lady Volunteers.
"Coach Schmidt will always be an important person in my life because of what she did in getting me started, helping me out and teaching me a lot," Dickens said. "I learned more from her than I did from anyone else and probably ever will. She is a classy person and professional. I just can't say enough about her. She's an important influence and factor in my life."
Helms believes there are going to be some good things in store for Kosciusko and said Dickens will be a major part of that.
"I like her enthusiasm for the game, for practice and how she teaches the kids," Helms said. "We both feel the same way about making our kids better people and we only use basketball to do that.
"We've been working hard and have a lot of work to do, but our kids are catching on and have good attitudes. When they do that, you just have to last and weather the storm."
(Editor's Note: This is a story in a series highlighting high school basketball teams participating in the summer league at the Starkville Sportsplex. Other teams are scheduled to be featured throughout the summer.)
View more articles in: