Every train has an engineer and every athletic team has a head coach or manager.
For the Corinth/Alcorn County Parks and Recreations Department, the engineer and head coach since July of 2014 has been Booneville native Ray Holloway, Jr.
Holloway came to Corinth with a sterling resume, including stints at Tupelo, Clinton and Brookhaven, Georgia.
Aside from all the day-to-day activities that require his attention, Holloway has been at the helm of a massive overhaul and upgrade expansion of the park that includes the new five-field baseball/softball complex, the addition of new soccer fields, the expansion and re-opening of the Droke Road entrance, the repaving and expansion of the parking area between the soccer fields and tennis courts, and the recent renovation of the old tennis courts.
A boatload of planning and financing has been required to complete all of these efforts and there is more to come, including the widening and renovation of the walking track. That phase has seen it’s beginning as the first entrance to the park south of the railroad tracks has already been closed and will remain that way as part of the rebuild so walkers and joggers will no longer have to be concerned about facing crossing traffic between North Parkway and the ballfields.
That entrance will be permanently closed and that area will be curbed to allow total safety.
“Everything I do and accomplish here is not about me,” said the park director. “We couldn’t accomplish anything without all our partnerships, including Cook Coggins Engineering and Pittman Brothers Construction. They truly exemplify a working relationship of how projects should be handled.”
Holloway comes from a military family background with his dad being Corinth native Ray Holloway Sr., otherwise known as Big Ray. Big Ray was killed on a job assignment at Fort Benning, Georgia, when Ray Jr. was only a toddler.
Holloway Jr. joined the National Guard/Marines at the age of 17 but was able to attend college due to his split-training status. He first graduated from Northeast, where he played football, and then transferred to Delta State before ending up at Mississippi State.
He served with the Marine Corps/Army Reserves 198th Cavalry Division in Booneville from 1981-88.
He gave up football after moving to Cleveland, Mississippi, to attend DSU. And although he jests that most of his closest friends are Ole Miss fans, he bleeds Mississippi State maroon and white. Holloway graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education and a Master’s in Abnormal Psychology.
He also holds specialized degrees from Clemson University and North Carolina State University. He is NRPA certified and holds a vast education and knowledge of all facets of mental and physical health. Holloway began his career as a program coordinator and fitness instructor at Oktibbeha County Hospital and Wellness Center in Starkville in 1988 before moving on to the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo as a fitness instructor from 1991-94.
During that period he also served as the Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor at the North Mississippi Regional Center. From there he transitioned to become Sports and Training Director for Mississippi Special Olympics where he further developed a passion for helping individuals with special needs.
In May of 1995, Holloway began his first stint with the Tupelo Department of Parks and Recreation as Special Services Director: a position he held until October of 2002 when he took over the Interim Director’s role for six months. From October 2001-October 2002, he served as the Assistant Deputy Director in Tupelo before receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse in Clinton.
“Me and my family really enjoyed Clinton,” said Holloway.”It’s such a large operation and very diversified. And we loved the people there: they took us in and made us feel at home.”
After just over 11 years as the Director of Parks and Recreation in Clinton he accepted the newly-created Director position of Parks and Recreation in Brookhaven, Georgia in January of 2014. The city had just become a municipality in 2013 and they needed a man like Holloway to lead the way.
However, Holloway’s mother became ill in Booneville and he felt the need to move back home to be closer to her.
It just so happened that Corinth was looking for a Park Director and Holloway was the man for the job.
Holloway and his wife- the former Rochelle Eaves of Louisville, Mississippi who is a nurse and professional manager and trainer at Magnolia Regional Health Center- are the parents of four children.
Oldest child Megan owns her own beauty salon and boutique in Fulton (Meg’s On Main) while Trey, their second-born, is an aircraft mechanic who now serves on the staff of the Air Force’s famous Blue Angels in Jacksonville, Florida.
Third-child Austin recently completed his second year as the place-kicker for the Northeast Tigers and has aspirations of being an architectural engineer. Youngest child Rivers is a seventh-grader at Corinth where she plays junior varsity fastpitch softball and is also on the soccer team. She’s also a member of the junior national honor society.
“Rivers has really grounded me over the past few years. She’s very organized and detail-oriented,” Holloway mused.
Corinth just experienced a small sampling of what’s to come with the recent USSSA 7U-13U Crossroads Global World Series Qualifier tournament at the new complex and at Jesse Bynum Field.
The event drew record numbers in excess of 2,200 including spectators, coaches, players and staff.
The Mississippi Spring Classic will be the next major tournament featuring 8U-16U softball action.
With each new event, the crowds will grow and the city will benefit financially from all the tourism dollars.
Corinth is proud to have Ray Holloway Jr. as the Director of these and future events, expansions and upgrades.