Booneville, Miss. – Former Northeast Mississippi Community College athletic director, softball coach and football coach David Carnell dedicated nearly five decades to Northeast.
Now, Carnell will make one last trip to campus.
Carnell passed away during the early morning hours on Sunday, August 18 at his home in Union County.
Visitation will be from 5-9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20 at the Bonner Arnold Coliseum on the Northeast Booneville campus with service time at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21 at Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
“Coach Carnell was a teacher, counselor, friend and colleague of mine for over 40 years,” said Northeast president Dr. Johnny L. Allen. “He was an integral part of Northeast athletics as teacher, football coach, softball coach and athletic director. We will all miss his leadership and gentle presence on our campus.”
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the David Carnell Scholarship Fund by contacting the Northeast Mississippi Community College Development Foundation at 662-720-7185 or mailing a memorial to NEMCC Development Foundation, 101 Cunningham Blvd., Booneville, Miss., 38829.
“Coach Carnell was a quiet leader that played the game of life as a living example,” Northeast executive vice president Ricky Ford said. “He had the respect of everyone that was associated with him. We were in the same Sunday school class and he exhibited the same Christian leadership everyday that he lived.
“We will be lifting his family up in prayer during this time.”
Carnell’s mark on Northeast stretches back to the 1970s when the lifelong coach originally came to Northeast in 1972 as a member of the Northeast Mississippi Junior College football coaching staff but the former athletic director left his mark in an entirely different sport when he guided Northeast’s transition from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball at the turn of the century and had the Lady Tigers in the national tournament within three years.
“A lot of the principles that coach Carnell taught me were the Christian principles,” said Northeast head softball coach Jody Long, who assisted Carnell for ten years before taking over the program in 2006. “Seeing him do things at practice, he didn’t cuss like a lot of coaches do, and those things stick heavily in my mind.
“He was a very good mentor and I learned a lot of those lessons that I still use in coaching today from him.”
Carnell’s run on the gridiron at Northeast came after the long-time coach helped found the program at Biggersville High School where he served as the high school’s first football coach.
Carnell was an assistant football coach for 10 years — 1972-82 before taking over the reins of the program from W.B. “Bill” Ward in 1983. Carnell won two of his first four games including victories over Holmes (15-7) and Coahoma (45-0) as the Tigers went on to finish the 1983 season as the North Division runner-up.
After three years at the helm, Carnell gave up the head-coaching role and returned to be an assistant coach for the Tiger football team until 1996 when he dedicated his focus to softball.
Carnell resurrected the Northeast softball program in 1993 after an almost 10-year hiatus away from competition and posted a 17-16 record during the Northeast’s first year back in slow-pitch competition.
Carnell’s Lady Tigers also started a run to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Region XXIII Tournament that would stretch through the transition to fast-pitch competition and until his retirement in 2005.
During Carnell’s years, Northeast was the only school in Mississippi to boast a 13-year run in the Region XXIII Tournament – covering both slow- and fast-pitch softball – 1994-2006.
Carnell replaced Ward once again in 1996 when the veteran coach took over the role of athletic director for Northeast Mississippi Community College and held the position while coaching softball until his retirement in 2005-06.
During his time on the slow-pitch diamond, Carnell led the Northeast Lady Tiger softball team to four straight North Division runner-up finishes — 1994-98 — before finally breaking through as the North Division champion in 1999. Carnell led the Lady Tigers to seven straight Region XXIII tournaments before the college switched to fast-pitch competition in 2001.
Carnell and the Lady Tigers did not miss a note with the switch staking a 28-12 record during their first year in fast-pitch competition, were co-North Division champions, and placed third in the state/region tournament. During the 2000-01 season, Northeast was ranked as high as fifth in the nation twice.
Carnell continued to fine-tune the Northeast fast-pitch softball team with five straight North Division championships –2001-05 — and saw his team finish as the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ state runners-up three straight years from 2003-05.
Northeast’s crowning moment came in 2003 when the Lady Tigers qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Softball Championship after winning the Region XXIII championship.
Northeast came close to a return trip to the national tournament in Carnell’s final years at the helm finishing as the Region XXIII runner-up in 2004 and 2005. Carnell not only pushed his athletes on the diamond but demanded excellence in the classroom as well and was awarded as the NJCAA’s Academic Team of the year in 2000 — Northeast’s first year of fast-pitch competition — and was among the top academic teams in the country in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Carnell was named the Region XXIII Coach of the Year in 2003 and was honored as the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges’ Coach of the Year in 2005 and given the NJCAA’s Loyalty Award in 2005.
After retiring, Carnell returned as a part-time assistant coach to the softball program from 2006-08 before finally hanging up his cleats.
In total, Carnell recorded 301 wins against 223 losses during his time as head football and slow- and fast-pitch coach.
In honor of the accolades and commitment Carnell made to the program, Northeast softball honors him each year with its highest honor – the David Carnell ‘Six Inch Award’ for the softball student-athlete that makes the best decisions.
In April 2012, he was the co-honoree for the Northeast softball StrikeOut Cancer games against Mississippi Delta Community College that saw the Lady Tiger pitching staff toss a perfect game in the opener and followed with a no-hitter in the nightcap.
Just a year later, Carnell was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet on April 23 at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus of Hinds Community College.
Carnell was also a 2010 inductee into the Northeast Sports Hall of Fame.