By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Dozens of churchgoers will play basketball through Wednesday to fund a scholarship named after a man best known for another sport – football.
Organized by the Aberdeen-Tupelo District of the CME Church, the Frank Dowsing Jr. Memorial Basketball Tournament has attracted teams from more than two dozen places of worship and across several denominations.
“He was one of the first black athletes to play at Mississippi State, and his main thing was education,” said Angelo Edwards, the Aberdeen-Tupelo lay president. “He envisioned a scholarship for the CME church. After he passed, we named it after him.”
Dowsing was the first African-American to play football for Mississippi State University and graduated with honors in 1973. He also was an active member of Palmetto CME Church and was instrumental in starting the scholarship.
He died in 1994 at 43 years old, and earlier this year was enshrined in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Each team paid $50 to enter, and that money – plus cash earned from the door and concessions – goes directly to the annual scholarship fund. Shannon High School is hosting the games and the championships, which started Saturday and end this week.
Scholarships will go to three college-bound students, and stipends will be provided to five additional students. All must be members of the Aberdeen-Tupelo District of the CME Church, they must have good grade-point averages, and they must write an essay.
Winners are selected by a committee, Edwards explained.