Remembering coach Lafayette Stribling


June 1, 1938 – October 30, 2021


Lafayette Stribling, who served as the men’s basketball coach at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and Tougaloo College died Saturday, Oct. 30, in Jackson at years 87 of age.

Stribling was born in Carthage, Mississippi June 1, 1934 to the union of the late Eugene Stribling and Mary L. Dallas-Stribling.

He was the third of six children. His siblings included Lancaster Rodex Stribling, Annie Mae Stribling, George Harpher Stribling, Eugene Stribling Jr., and Mary Ruth Stribling-Norman (Willie James). Rodex, Annie Mae and Eugene Jr. preceded Lafayette in death.

He resided in the Harmony/Galilee community and was baptized at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church. He excelled as a student and basketball player. He graduated from Harmony High School.

His athletic and academic skills afforded him a scholarship to Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Upon graduation he married his college sweetheart, Thelma Montgomery, and to this union two daughters were born. Mrs. Stribling preceded him in death.

Coach Stribling, as he was affectionally known, began his coaching career at South Leake High School (formerly Murphy High School and Harmony High School). During his 25 years at South Leake, Stribling was the head boys’ basketball coach, head girls’ basketball coach, having all winning seasons and winning one state title with the boys’ basketball team and two state titles with the girls’ basketball team. 

In 1982, Stribling left South Leake to become the head boys’ basketball coach at Grenada High School and later accepted the head men’s Basketball coaching position at Mississippi Valley State University.

During the 1985-1986 season, MVSU won the SWAC Tournament and faced Duke University in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

While at MVSU, Stribling won four regular-season SWAC championships, along with three tournament titles. After 22 years leading the Delta Devils, he left the school with a 315-307 record in 2005, the most coaching wins in school’s history.

Stribling took the head coaching job at Tougaloo College in 2005 and moved to Ridgeland, MS where he joined Mount Charity M.B. Church, where he continued a tradition of taking his players to church on Sundays.

He spent seven years coaching the Bulldogs. During that time, he won four Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season titles, one Conference-tournament title, three Conference Coach of the Year awards and five NAIA national tournaments. He coached his team to the school’s first GCAC regular-season title.

Coach Stribling’s 2010-2011 season was another notable year when he led the “Super 7” to both the regular season and tournament titles and to the Sweet Sixteen in the national tournament.

Stribling is a 1989 inductee of the Mississippi Coaches’ Hall of Fame, a 2006 SWAC Hall of Fame inductee, a 2010 inductee into the MVSU Athletic Hall of Fame and a 2018 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

In 2017, Mississippi Valley State named its basketball court, in part, after the legendary coach. The Stribling-Harris Court sets in the R.W. Harrison Arena on the campus.

In 2020, Tougaloo College unveiled the Coach Lafayette Stribling Court. Most recognized for his unique style of dress and his outstanding winning ways, Stribling was a trailblazer in the coaching arena and his dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed.

Stribling always welcomed the opportunity to gather with his family and loved ones for pound cake, walks down memory lane and encouraging talks.

He leaves to cherish his memories four children, Pamela Stribling Cotten (Clifton, Sr.), Deborah Stribling-Hill (Curtis Spurlock), Derrick McBeath Sr. (Valerie Brewer) and Byron Stribling (Harmony); his grandchildren, Camesha Cotten Hatchett (Marchenne), Clifton Cotten Jr. (Sara), Darryl Bryant Hill (Ribkah), Kaela McBeath, Derrick McBeath Jr. and Harper Stribling; and his great-grandchildren, Micah, Chase, London, Ava, Lane, Ryleigh, Zoe and Nuri.

Lafayette’s son-in-waw Darryl G. Hill, daughters-in-law Valerie and Harmony, and granddaughter Harper preceded him in death.

Homegoing services will be held at Tougaloo College in the gymnasium Saturday at 11 a.m. He will be buried at Galloway Cemetery in Carthage, MS. 

Dr. Carmen J. Walters, president of Tougaloo College said, “Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of coach Lafayette Stribling. As part of the Tougaloo family, coach Stribling served as an inspiration to many young athletes, with his great examples of self-discipline, hard work and perseverance to accomplish the difficult challenges not only in sports, but in life. He will be truly missed, and our thoughts and prayers are extended to all those he leaves behind.”

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