Lady Bobcat dynamic duo dedicates life to sports

By Amanda Lowrance

Two Lady Bobcats of McNairy Central High School have spent their lives in basketball and have carried on a legacy passed down from their parents.

Kindra Brown, with 13.8 points per game and Chelsea Bodiford, with 15.8 points per game held the top two positions on McNairy County’s leading scorer board for most of the year.

Brown grew up in Bethel Springs and has always been very active and engaged in sports. She practically laid down the rattle and picked up a ball and never let go. Sports is something that has always fascinated her.

“Ever since Kindra was four years old, she has been playing ball,” said mother, Yolanda Brown. “She has just been very interested in it, plus her father was a big influence.”

As a former Lady Bobcat herself, Yolanda played basketball at McNairy Central and graduated in 1982 and father, Dwight Brown played high school football, basketball, and baseball in Corinth, Miss. 

“When I was four I started playing for Selmer Hoops,” said Brown. “My earliest memory was having my dad as my coach, and he has coached me from four years old until now. He was my inspiration. Without him I would not be where I am today. He always saw something in me that was further and he kept pushing me harder.”

One major highlight from this year’s basketball season was on the road against Chester County. Brown kept the team alive after a rough start by sinking two confident, crucial 3-pointers in overtime to win the game for the Lady Bobcats by one point.

“Kindra is a good ball handler and has improved on her scoring and three-point shots,” said Lady Bobcat head coach Jerry Lott. “This year she could not only take it inside and score but she could pull up and shoot threes outside for us too. She has had a well-rounded game the last couple of years.”

Brown’s career stats consist of 778 points – 398 in her senior year alone, 284 rebounds, 265 assists, 182 steals, and five blocks.

At the end of this season, Brown had the most team assists with 147 and steals with 84.

“Kindra is so outgoing in everything she does,” said her mother, “She is a listener and a leader. She loves the game and is not just about herself. She is about the whole team.”

She has over 14 years dedicated to basketball and softball and tacked on soccer as a third sport, which was being introduced in the county on the high school level during her freshmen year of high school.

“Once she decides to do something, she figures out a way to get it done,” said MCHS softball coach Mellanie Surratt. “The feeling of success drives Kindra to work harder.”

Future plans have Brown headed toward college basketball and a career in physical therapy. Contacts from Blue Mountain College, Northeast Alabama Community College, and Austin Peay State University have reached out to Brown, but she has not committed yet.

Brown is currently leading the Lady Bobcats on the mound for her last and final softball season.

“She is going to be a vital part of our pitching rotation,” said Surratt. “Kindra can play pretty much anywhere. We are going to work her in the outfield this year due to injuries, but she can also play shortstop and third as well. This year I think she is really going to show her speed in the outfield.”

“My parents taught me to work hard and to reach beyond and that’s what I am going to do,” said Brown.

Across the county in Michie, Bodiford began her basketball venture at the age of six and softball at about four years old.

“Even when Chelsea was little, she never played with dolls,” said father Richie Bodiford. “She just picked up balls instead of dolls.”

Bodiford recalls her earliest memory to be when her “Mammaw” Stutts was babysitting her. Stutts would throw pitches to her while she practiced swinging and hitting.

Her parents also played a big role along the way. Richie coached Junior Pro until she reached seventh grade and her mother, Lorrie Bodiford, coached her in junior high at Michie.

“She started playing Junior Pro at Michie when she was in the first grade,” said her mother. “Our whole family has always been interested in sports.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bodiford played basketball at McNairy Central and graduated in 1983 and 1985. Mr. Bodiford carried his career through to Freed Hardeman University and played in college.

“My dad has been my inspiration,” said Bodiford. “He has helped me all these years.”

Bodiford’s career stats tout 1,322 career points – 490 in her senior year alone, 351 rebounds, 197 steals, 165 assists, and 42 blocks.

Joining the MCHS 1,000 Point Club in November 2011, Bodiford reached 1,322 points at the end of her career, making her second all-time in scoring and fifth all-time scoring in a season at the end of her senior year with 490 points.

“Chelsea was a good three-point shooter when she came to our program and has improved every year.” said Lott. “She has worked hard and spends hours at a time in the gym working on her three-point shots.”

In 2010, Bodiford broke the record for most 3-pointers made in a single game at McNairy Central by drilling six in a game. She later tied that record in 2011. She has also broken most 3-pointers in a season in her junior year with 65 three-point shots and most 3-pointers in a career which adds up to 189 outside baskets.

“She has broken every three-point record and is obviously one of the best three-point shooters we have had in our program,” said Lott. “People found out she was a good three-point shooter and the other teams extended the defense out to the three-point line, so she had to improve on taking the ball to the basket in the last couple of years.”

Bodiford has committed to play basketball at Union University for the Lady Bulldogs, who are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with a record of 31-2 and have won four NAIA National Championships in the last seven years.

“Chelsea has a good attitude and is hard working,” said her parents. “She is very coachable and is going to work hard and do what you tell her to do.”

As of today, she is undecided on what her major will be going into college but is considering education or physical therapy. Softball season has engaged, and Bodiford holds a strong position at shortstop where the team feels comfortable with her in that position.

Brown and Bodiford share the same ‘best memory ever’ and it was in their junior year when the pair helped the Lady Bobcats to win first place in the District 14-AA Tournament and assisted in placing runner-up in the region tournament before the team advanced to substate.

Both players are thankful for all the people and coaches that have helped them to reach the next level of their careers.

“They are both fine young ladies and have worked hard to improve their game,” said Lott. “I’m sure they are both going to excel at the next level too.”

Many memories have been made, and there are many more to come. Bringing such a strong force together at MCHS by joining two players from opposite ends of the county, these two ladies have touched many hearts with their dedication and courage.