Holmes Community College Head Baseball Coach Kenny Dupont came into the 2020 season as one of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges' (MACJC) all-time winningest coaches ranking sixth with 557. Coach Dupont announced in January he would be retiring and the 2020 season would be his last here at Holmes Community College. With the season ending so suddenly Dupont will end his career here with a phenomenal record of 566 wins and 273 losses.
The 2020 season is a memorable one and one for the record books. "I am sad to see the season end so abruptly, but I am very impressed by the safety precautions taken both by the NJCAA and Holmes Community College."
The team completes the 2020 season at 9-5. In the short season, they upheld the Dirtbag tradition and what Coach Dupont has always been known for hitting and running bases. The team finished No. 2 in the NJCAA with a .398 batting average and No. 5 in the NJCAA in stolen bases with 67.
Since Dupont became head coach in 2000, the Dogs have made nine trips to the MACJC State Championship Tournament ('01, '02, '03, '05, '06, '09, '10, '11, and '14). The Bulldogs also made seven trips to the NJCAA Region 23 Championship Tournament ('01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '09, and '11). The 2001 team was ranked 20th in the final poll while the 2002 team was ranked 18th. The 2009 Bulldogs finished runner-up in both the MACJC State Championship and the NJCAA Region XXIII Championship Tournament. The Bulldogs won the MACJC North Division Championship in 2011 and went on to finish third in the MACJC State Tournament and NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament.
During Dupont's stint, the Bulldog Baseball program has had 133 players go on to play at universities and 27 who have been drafted or signed to play professional baseball. He coached the most famous "Dirtbag" of all-time, Roy Oswalt, in 1996-97. Oswalt was drafted out of Holmes by the Houston Astros. He is a MLB All-Star and Most Valuable Player of the MLB Playoffs. He pitched in the World Series and won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics. Oswalt has been inducted into the Holmes Hall of Fame, MACJC Hall of Fame, Houston Astros Hall of Fame, and this year was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Coach Dupont has several former Bulldogs currently coaching in the collegiate ranks. The coaches include: Xan Barksdale, Team USA; Stuart Morgan, Louisiana College; Stephen Waggener, Young Harris College; Mike Jones, University of West Alabama; Trennis Grant, Alabama A&M University; Jacobby Robinson, Lee University; Mike Avalon, Pearl River Community College; Luke Barthel, Duke University, strength coach; and Trey Bowman, Holmes Community College.
"It was very important to have guys who went into professional baseball," Dupont said. "Being able to get the right players here has been a major key to my success. I got good kids who wanted to play hard and hustle... ones who get after it and play with a chip on their shoulder. I have always expected them to work hard and have long practices. I was blessed with players who liked putting the time and effort in. So many players have loved Holmes and made the Dirtbag tradition a motto for their life which is a value I will always cherish."
Over the years, he's expected all players to be disciplined on and off the field. "A disciplined team wins," Dupont said. "You can win with a disciplined team that doesn't have as much talent as the others. I have always preached education first, baseball second, and everything else afterwards. I'm an old-school coach and believe in rules, curfew going to class, and attaining an education so the player, may reach their career goals. That's why they are here.
"Baseball is an honor and a privilege to play," he added. "I have prided myself in teaching 'them the right way'," Dupont said. "It takes basic fundamentals and hustle…. going 100 percent all of the time. That's why this program got the name Dirtbags because we play hard, hustle, and just get after it. This is what will get players to the next level. I teach them to expect to do well and expect to get to the next level.
Here's a few Dirtbag quotes instilled in every player, "Don't hope for it, work for it, expect it"; "You get out of it what you put into it"; "Hard work will pay off"; "Fear nobody but respect them all"; "Play the game the right way"; and "Be the leader wherever you are."
Dupont praised the MACJC and its baseball programs. "The MACJC is probably the toughest junior college baseball conference in America," Dupont said. "Throughout the season there will be a minimum of four teams in the top twenty national poll from the Mississippi conference. Because of this no one can ever afford to take a day off. In this league the strong survive and the weak go home. Each program must know their strengths and weaknesses. Our strength has always been to outwork and out hustle the others. I always say 'Nice guys finish last'. You've got to be hardnosed."
"I enjoyed every year at Holmes, the faculty, and the administration," he said. "I have countless great memories on this campus and with these teams. Holmes will always be a part of me and a community I call home. Undoubtedly, I will miss the people, the friends I've made and the opportunity to talk to them on a daily basis. The Holmes faculty in Goodman is outstanding, and I will miss working with them. I've made numerous friends at Holmes and throughout Mississippi that I will always cherish."
"Holmes athletics does an outstanding job promoting the sports through social media, live streaming games, and continuously updating the college website," he added. "The countless hours Steve Diffey puts into the athletic program is remarkable. Along with Steve Diffey there are several people that have been there for me along the way. A few are Bill Grace, Steven Groves (Kamala), Mrs. Grace, Susie Jackson, Mrs. Rosemary Self and Brian Wooten, who have taken their personal time and helped me throughout the years. My hats off to each of you. I would have never made it to retirement without you. I'm forever indebted and hope you know how much I truly appreciate each one of you."
Even though Dupont, 57, will be leaving the MACJC, he's not through coaching yet. He just believes there comes a time in your coaching career when you realize if you don't take one of those offers you get every year there may not be an offer down the road.
"I still have a love for the game and the desire to coach," Dupont said. "This is a good time and opportunity for me to move on. I have been very humbled and honored by the abundance of offers I have received from various states. This will be an exciting change and challenge I am looking forward to.
Dupont said he will always be a Bulldog Dirtbag at heart but where will his future coaching path be – He plans to evaluate all options but it looks like a college close to the beach is calling his name.
Prior to joining the HCC staff, Dupont served as an assistant baseball coach at George C. Wallace Junior College in Dothan, AL. under the legendary Coach Sammy Frichter. Then he served as assistant baseball coach at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. under Coach Mike Knight. He was a scout for the Baltimore Orioles conducting tryout camps from 1992-2010 under Scouting Supervisor Mike Tullier.
Dupont is a member of the Mississippi Coaches Association, American Baseball Coaches Association and the Crossroads Diamond Club and MLB-RBI, reviving baseball in the inner cities.
BY: Steve Diffey
Holmes CC Sports Information