Ramblin ‘On: One of Mississippi’s Top Track and Cross Country Trainers

I met Billy Lamb when he was a long-distance runner at Mississippi College in the early ’60s. Lamb was a great runner in the 880-yard run for the Choctaws. He has coached at several high schools in Alabama and Mississippi. Many years later he became a cross country and track coach at Mississippi College and remained there for many years.

Billy has been a friend for many years. He did a great job in all the schools he taught. But his specialty was to train acrobats and long distance runners.

The state’s best cross-country course, Choctaw Trails, was designed and built by Lamb while he was a coach at MC. He spent arduous hours over many summers on a tractor developing the course. The trails have been designed to allow spectators to have many glimpses of the runners during the race. Choctaw Trails is the site of many Mississippi College meetings to this day. Choctaw Trails is the venue for the MHSAA and MPSA State Championships. National and regional collegial meetings took place on this route as well as numerous individual high school meetings. This course is the best in the state and one of the best in the country. This is by far the best course I have ever seen in my 33+ years of cross country training.

I have talked a lot about the quality of this cross country ski course, but I have to say Lamb is also one of the best beginners in the country. For years, he started numerous high school and college track and field and cross country competitions.

Billy was convinced that girls should have a chance at pole vaulting and he wrote a letter to the sports editor of The Clarion-Ledger about expanding women’s events to include pole vault. Billy has given the Star-Herald permission to print the following letter.

Girls also deserve the chance to pole vault.

Your special dossier on the pole vault was very well done. I especially liked the photos by Chris Todd and the drawings by Godfrey Jones. Thank you for bringing this exciting event to the public’s attention. I was fortunate enough to attend the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada in 1994 as a member of the United States Track and Field Pole Vault Committee. Watching hundreds of boys and girls receive instruction from the country’s top coaches on a dozen pole vault pits in the Reno Convention Center as well as the competition between the country’s elite male and female jumpers was a real inspiration.

Safety in the pole vault was the order of the day as it is today. It was determined that better education of all concerned and in particular of coaches was imperative. Equally important were the proper areas of land and the jumpers using the right poles. I hope I will still be a coach when Mississippi catches up with the rest of the country and allows the girls to enjoy that special thrill. Alabama and Louisiana have pole vault competitions for their daughters. America’s best girls can jump higher than most boys in Mississippi. Our state has a large pool of female athletes now involved in cheerleading who would love the pole vault as an additional outlet for their skills.

Thanks to Billy’s efforts, Mississippi has offered pole vault for girls for many years.

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