|Title:||Head Softball Coach|
Jody Long enters the 2014 softball season as the longest tenured and winningest head coach among Northeast Mississippi Community College’s nine intercollegiate athletic programs.
Long’s last edition of the Tigers finished with a 23-15-1 overall record and 15-9 mark in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division. The fourth place finish in league play clinched yet another spot in the postseason for one of the most storied programs in the state.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College got the best of Northeast in the opening game of the MACJC State Tournament in Perkinston, but a handful of Tigers were recognized for their sharp play on the field of competition.
Andrea Cutts (Ackerman) and Bianca Chagolla (Riverside, Calif.) were selected to the MACJC All-State team while Erin Dixson (Amherst, N.Y.), Haleigh Moffett (West Lauderdale), Ellen Tarrant (New Albany), Victoria White (Mooreville) and Dana Glissen (Kossuth) were each named to the MACJC All-North Division team along with Cutts and Chagolla.
Cutts received recognition around the entire country after becoming the thirteenth softball player in Northeast history to be recognized as an All-American. She and Tarrant, who was received an Exemplary Academic Achievement award from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for her 3.66 grade point average (GPA), both signed scholarships to continue their careers at Delta State University while Dixson inked with Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Long reached a personal milestone as well during the 2013 campaign when the New Albany native won his 200th career victory as head coach of the Tigers against rival Itawamba Community College on April 23.
During the 2012 campaign, Long led the Tigers to top three finishes in both the MACJC State Tournament and the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament. In the MACJC State Tournament at Itawamba, Northeast brought back the state runner-up trophy.
Northeast finished the season with a 32-19 record and posted a school-record for MACJC North Division wins with 17. The Tigers finished second to Jones County Junior College at the MACJC State Tournament and then continued its postseason momentum as Northeast was one of the last three teams standing at Clinton’s Traceway Park in the regionals.
Long’s Tigers not only did work on the field but also were successful in the classroom as well with seven members being selected for NJCAA Student-Athlete Academic Awards. The team as a whole was honored by the NJCAA as well for its academic prowess.
Northeast was ranked as the thirteenth best team in the nation with a 3.42 overall GPA on a 4.0 scale and was fifth countrywide in the National Fast-Pitch Coaches Association’s (NFCA) rankings.
Northeast’s highlight of 2012 came during its annual StrikeOut Cancer doubleheader that saw Jaisa Emerson (Cincinnati, Ohio) throw a perfect game against Mississippi Delta Community College. Dixson (Amherst, New York) followed up with a no-hitter in the nightcap.
By the end of that campaign, Northeast was receiving votes in the NJCAA Division II nationwide rankings.
Long and the Tigers turned the corner during the 2011 season when Northeast qualified for the MACJC State Tournament in Perkinston after missing out the year before. Northeast gave host Mississippi Gulf Coast a run in the first round of the single-elimination event before seeing its season come to an end with a 25-23 record.
Just a year prior, Northeast was able to collect wins during the second half of the season to close the 2010 campaign on a positive note. However, the Tigers missed qualifying for the MACJC State Tournament for the only time in Long’s tenure as head coach.
Long took over the reins of the program from MACJC and Northeast Sports Hall of Fame coach David Carnell in 2006 and kept the Tiger softball program going strong in his first years as commander-in-chief.
Following postseason berths in both of his first two years, Northeast’s 2008 team found its stride as the Tigers plowed through their competition to a 34-20 overall record, including a 14-3 mark in league play that helped Northeast secure its seventh MACJC North Division championship in the previous eight years.
In his first season as head coach, Long led the Tigers to a 32-23 mark and their third straight TigerFest Tournament championship, a sixth consecutive MACJC North Division title and MACJC State Tournament and NJCAA Region 23 runner-up finishes.
Northeast’s MACJC State Tournament and NJCAA Region 23 Tournament runner-up finishes were the fourth and third years in a row that Northeast had finished in those respective positions.
Long began working as an assistant softball coach at Northeast in 1997 and, following the 2000 season, played a major role in the program’s switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch competition.
Beginning with the 2001 season, the Tigers shared one North Division title (2001) and won the championship outright five times (2002-06). Northeast has hosted the MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 Tournament twice (2002, 2004) and battled through the loser’s bracket to win the NJCAA Region 23 title and participate in the NJCAA National Tournament in 2003.
Northeast’s softball team was the only team in NJCAA Region 23 to play in every regional championship matchup from 2001-06.
In 2001, Long was named the All-Region/All-American Director through the NFCA.
Following the 2003 campaign, he was named NFCA Division II South Region Coach of the Year. Long has also served as the president of the MACJC Softball Coaches Association since 2003.
After attending Northeast as a student and working as a manager on the baseball team, Long returned to Booneville in the spring of 1997 to complete an internship through the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
He joined the Northeast family full time that summer as the director of the college’s health and fitness center, which he planned and developed, and as assistant director of student activities.
Since then, Long has become an instrumental member of the Northeast athletic family, helping turn the Tiger softball program into a perennial powerhouse.
Prior to coming to Northeast, Long earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and leisure management (ESLM) from the Ole Miss.
He was named the ESLM undergraduate of the year in 1997 with a 3.85 core GPA. Long obtained a master’s degree in education administration in December 2000.
Long is a member of the Booneville Church of Christ. He and his wife Wendi have two sons, Anderson and Thomas.