EDUCATION

House of Hope: A coach’s journey from Mississippi to Uganda

Michael Steele
Oxford Stories
msteele1@go.olemiss.edu

The small Mississippi communities of Hickory Flat, Pontotoc, Ingomar, East Webster and the African country of Uganda all have one thing in common –  Michael Seger.

There are few people who leave a lasting, positive impact everywhere they go. Over the years, Seger has coached basketball and taught biology to countless Mississippi high school students. Seger has used every platform to mentor kids and inspire them to be their best selves.

Earlier this year, the Seger family found a new platform in a different country to continue their mission of helping kids – Uganda House of Hope.

Seger, 33, and his wife, Kelly (34), are the directors (same position as superintendent in America) of the house.

“This place gives a home, education and resources to orphans, vulnerable children and those with disabilities,” Seger said. “We also use our resources to help poor families in the area with food and healthcare.”

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The Segers are in their eighth month of a two-year commitment to the House of Hope. Seger said they are staying indefinitely – waiting on God’s instruction.

They were recently in Mississippi visiting with family and friends, but returned to Uganda in December. The Segers have two children, Caden, 7, and Braden-Parker, 4, and are working to adopt two Ugandan boys, Brian, 7, and Joseph, 4, by January.

Before moving to Uganda this April, Seger was the head coach at East Webster High School for the high school boys and girls basketball teams. He has always been known as fierce competitor who lived and breathed basketball. When he left his position as head coach to move to Africa, he left behind two potential championship teams. Both the girls and boys basketball teams had the talent.

“It was tough leaving Mississippi behind,” he said. “Even more difficult leaving two potential championship teams behind.”

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For the average person, leaving your home state and moving your family to Uganda seems like a radical idea. For Seger, however, it was simply being obedient to God.

“We had been praying about moving to Uganda for some time,” he said. “With kids and basketball, it was hard to wrap my mind around such a huge transition. The tipping point for me was reading out of the book of Luke one day.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

“It became apparent to me that I was too comfortable with a place. I was too worried about a championship. God’s plan was bigger than that.”

To understand the impact that Seger has had on people in his life, look no further than his past basketball players. Before East Webster, Seger was the high school boys head coach at Hickory Flat for several years. He left a legacy there of being a great coach and community leader.

Hunter Mason, 20, was one of Seger’s best athletes and closest friends. Mason, now a University of Mississippi student, explained how Seger’s mentorship influenced him.

“The first thing that people notice in him (Seger) is his intensity,” Mason said. “He cares about every aspect of the game of basketball including the players. It was never a question. If you were on his team, in his classroom or whatever, you knew he cared about you.”

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Mason said Seger also left a lasting impression on his teammates.

“Some of the guys on the team did not have best home life,” he said. “Several lacked a father figure. He was one for them. He made sure that we all knew how much he cared. Any day, any time, you can call him, and he’ll be there for you.”

Seger served the town of Hickory Flat with his passion and hospitality. The relationships he built with players lasted beyond their time as player and coach.

Chad Cox, 23, was another of Seger’s basketball players. “As a coach, he had a high standard for us,” Cox said. “He set the bar high, and every year it went higher. He demanded excellence in every practice, sprint and game. Although it was tough at the time, I now see the importance of it. He wanted us to be the best we could possibly be.”

Cox, like Mason, explained that Seger’s most important role was off the court. “Every one of his students and players knew that he cared more about them than biology or basketball,” he said. “That’s also why he pushed us so hard.”

Cox now works as a special education teacher for Saltillo High School. He said he was inspired by Seger to pursue this career path after he saw the difference one person/teacher/coach can make in a kid’s life.

Seger said they are excited about opening a new school in April in Uganda. “God has blessed my family and Uganda in so many ways, and I hope that I am able to keep serving,” he said.

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The Seger family attending church.

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