MERIDIAN, MS -Meridian resident Faye Stokes and Enterprise resident Braden Ivey have been named the State Games of Mississippi 2013 "Athletes of the Year." Faye and Braden took home the honor for the State Games of Mississippi, a statewide amateur sportsfest modeled after the Olympics.
Based on the national program, the State Games of Mississippi established the annual "Athlete of the Year" award to recognize Mississippi's amateur athletes. Coaches, officials, athletes, volunteers and spectators nominated one male and one female athlete from each of the 37 sports for the award. The nominated athletes personify the ideals of the State Games movement, such as participation, sportsmanship, special attributes, achievements, efforts and positive attitudes.
Faye has been competing in the State Games for all of her fourteen years as an archer, she has 24 Gold medals and 2 Bronze medals to show off. Not only is she a competitor, but she also volunteers her time to assist with the competition. Her husband Brian took on the duty of Commissioner of Archery two years ago.
Faye is active in the Archery community of Mississippi, she currently helps organize and manage 5 shooting clubs around the state. Competing is her passion, she shoots regularly in the Archery Shooter's Association World Shooting Organization. She also has place second and third in her archery career at the International Bowhunter Organization's World Tournament. Included in her numerous achievements is being named as the "Shooter of the Year" ten times for the Mississippi Archery Organization.
Archery is a passion and way of life for Faye. She works full-time for the company she and her husband share, Brian's Custom Lens. They produce lens's to give archers and hunters a more clear view of their target and their customers reside all over the world.
Two years ago Faye was injured in a motorcycle accident that badly rendered her the use of her arms and hands. The accident crushed both of her arms and tore all of the ligaments and cartilage in her arms and shoulders. Faye did not have the strength to lift her arms, much less pull back a bow. With intense therapy and for the love of her sport, she was determined to shoot again. Faye says that she owes her recovery to her husband, who helped her gain her strength where she came back a better archer. In the 2013 State Games of Mississippi, Faye did come back and celebrates her Gold Medal that she earned by out-shooting most of the men that were shooting from the same distance.
Faye loves Archery and the sense of family and camaraderie that shooting gives to her. In return, Faye gives back so much of herself, that is why she is the 2013 State Games of Mississippi Female Athlete of the Year.
Braden Ivey has accomplished more in his eleven-years, than most athletes do in a lifetime. He has been training in the Martial Arts for only six years but has been called a prodigy by many.
Martial Arts is a family affair for the Iveys. Braden's grandfather started it all when he fell in love with sport and opened a dojo in Enterprise, MS. He then trained his son and passed on the dojo and now Braden, is being trained by his father.
In the past six years of his Martial Arts training his competition resume reads like a novel:
Braden became the 2007 Mississippi State Champion in his age group for the MS Karate Association. He continues to defend his title and has renewed it every year becoming a six time "13 and Under Grand Champion".
Braden was the 2007 and 2008 winner in the "Battle of Atlanta" Martial Arts tournament in Atlanta, GA.
In 2010 Braden decided to take his competition to the national level and went to his first AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) National Competition. He won the national champion title for his age group. He continued with his winning streak in 2011 by winning the USA National Karate Foundation National Championship, The Tennessee State Champion for the US Karate Alliance, and the AAU Jr. Olympic Champion plus many more regional and statewide titles.
In 2012 at the age of ten he was honored to have earned a position on the Amateur Athletics USA team. Martial Arts is not currently an Olympic sport, this team is the equivalent to being the US Olympic team. By competing on the AAU team, Braden was exposed to more tournaments and competed on a much higher level. He continued his reign as the AAU regional, state and national champion. In 2012 he also became the National Champion for the Japanese Karate Association.
In 2013, Braden had the opportunity to compete with his AAU team in Melbourne, Australia at the World Karate Confederation Tournament. He represented his country and his dojo from Enterprise, Mississippi well by coming home as the WKC World Champion.
Braden Ivey is also a 3 times Gold Medallist for the State Games of Mississippi.
Being an 11-year-old young man and a world champion is easy for Braden. He has the passion and discipline that it takes. He trains in his dojo six days a week for four hours a day and helps his father as an instructor for children ages nine and under twice a week. He recently received the presidential award for academics at his elementary school and has been an honor roll student throughout his schooling.
The State Games of Mississippi kicks off with an Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies each year in Meridian. Christie and Dallas will have the honor of lighting the torch at the 2013 Opening Ceremonies, set for June 14. Events for athletes are held throughout the month of June in various locations around the state.
The State Games keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsor: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: AT&T, Maples Gas, City of Meridian, McDonald's, Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Structural Steel, WTOK-TV and WMDN/WGBC-TV.
For more information on the Games, call 1-800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at www.stategamesofms.org.