Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College honored the 2017 Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame inductees at a dinner and ceremony held at the IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi on Thursday, October 26. Twelve honorees were selected for the Alumni Hall of Fame, Sam Owen Award, Athletic Hall of Fame, Spirit of Gulf Coast and Bulldog Hall of Honor. Honorees were also recognized during a cookout and pep rally on Homecoming Day, October 28, and during pregame activities that afternoon.
Alumni Hall of Fame
Jackson County Campus
Tommy Murphy is the Coast division manager for Mississippi Power Company. He manages all customer service functions and represents Mississippi Power as a leader in the community. He is responsible for all external activities in the Coast Division. He joined Mississippi Power in 1985 and has served as Community Development director, chief information officer, Employee Relations manager, Bay St. Louis Area manager and Economic Development national recruiter. A Pascagoula native, Murphy attended Gulf Coast’s Jackson County Campus from 1982-1984. After graduating from Gulf Coast, he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The University of Southern Mississippi. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology management program.
Jefferson Davis Campus
Wade Howk received both an associate degree and an Associate of Applied Science degree from the Jefferson Davis Campus. He also worked at the college as an adjunct instructor for several years, teaching accounting in the gaming program. Howk is vice president of Operations at Boomtown Casino Biloxi. A certified public accountant, he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management and accounting from The University of Southern Mississippi. He has a master’s degree in business administration from William Carey University. He is a graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast, Leadership Mississippi and Gulf Coast Business Council Masters Class. He has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Business Leaders Under 40 Gulf Coast (2011), Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40 Mississippi (2011) and Top 10 Community Leaders Gulf Coast (2013).
Jackson County Campus
Bill Wilkerson of Lucedale attended Perkinston Junior College from 1957-1958 on a basketball scholarship. After leaving PJC, he attended The University of Southern Mississippi and then Mississippi College, where he earned a law degree. After teaching biology and education for seven years, he was elected to the State Legislature. He served five terms in the Mississippi House of Representatives and also served on the State Tax Commission, the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission and the Mississippi Public Utilities Board, and as legal counsel for the Mississippi Electric Power Association. He also practiced law in George County. Wilkerson, a strong advocate for his alma mater, now serves on the MGCCC Board of Trustees.
Sam Owen Trophy
John Fayard Jr.
Jefferson Davis Campus
The Sam Owen Trophy is an honor bestowed since 1956 to a community member who has actively supported the college and its ongoing mission to make a positive difference.
At the age of 6, John “Johnny” Fayard Jr. knew that he wanted to be a truck driver. The fact that his grandfather and his father owned a transportation company influenced his decision, and his desire to drive big trucks has never waned. Today, he owns John Fayard Moving & Warehousing in Gulfport, with operations in Alabama, Florida and Texas. His business, like his father’s and grandfather’s, is a family operation. His son, Tripp, works in marketing at the company, and his daughter, Tory, who is a nurse, works part time there. His three sisters -Janet, Sandra and Alicia- all work at the business as well. His wife, Tanya, works in accounting, and he also has a nephew working at the company. Fayard, an MGCCC alumnus, is a supporter of the community college system and the variety of training it offers. He recently donated two trucks to MGCCC’s Commercial Truck Driving program.
Spirit of Gulf Coast
Jamie M. Miller
The Spirit of Gulf Coast Award is bestowed on those individuals who have made significant personal and/or financial contributions in support of Bulldog athletics.
Jamie M. Miller has served as executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources since April 2013. Prior to his appointment by Governor Phil Bryant to head the MDMR, he served as chief of staff for Congressman Steven Palazzo in Washington, D.C., and as policy adviser to Governor Haley Barbour following Hurricane Katrina.
Miller has 18 years of public and private-sector experience working in South Mississippi and Washington, D.C. His professional career has focused on coastal resource management, disaster recovery and community development. He attended the Perkinston Campus on a baseball scholarship. He graduated in 1993. He received his bachelor’s degree in environmental biology with a minor in chemistry from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Athletic Hall of Fame
While at Perkinston Agricultural High School in 1952-1956, Fred Gill was a letterman in football, basketball and baseball. The basketball team played in the South State Tournament during his senior year. The football team had a 9-1 record that same year, winning the Dairy Bowl against Notre Dame of Biloxi. Gill was named team captain and was starting quarterback all four years. During this time, he was invited by the Pittsburgh Pirates to play on their minor league team. He chose to continue his education instead. At Perkinston Junior College in 1956-1958, Gill was a quarterback on the football team and lettered both years. He was the starting quarterback during his sophomore year.
In Doug Thompson’s first baseball game for MGCCC on Monday, February 20, 1995, he struck out 10 East Mississippi players and walked only three in a 22-1 wipeout. He pitched a perfect game on March 1 against Bishop State (Alabama), and on March 25, he pitched a no-hitter against Co-Lin. He led the nation in strikeouts per inning and was second in overall strikeouts and ERA for the season. He made MACJC First Team and earned All-South- State and All-State, and was named South Division Player of the Year. He also made the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American list, a rare honor for a freshman. Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, he refused the offer to continue his education. In summer 1995, he was starting pitcher in play for the All-American Amateur Baseball League (AAABL) team that won the national Championship in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His sophomore year at Perk was much like his freshman year in that the Bulldog team again won South Division and then lost State and Region 23. But Thompson again racked up All-South-State and All-State honors and was also named to the NJCAA All-Region 23 team. Again, he was selected NJCAA All-American, and the NJCAA also named him David Roland Male Student Athlete of the Year. He posted a 12-3 game record and an ERA of 1.16. He struck out 129 batters in 109 innings to lead the nation in that category. In addition to his physical prowess, he earned at 3.33 grade point average and graduated from MGCCC with honors on May 13, 1996.
Ashton Nelson Shidler
After graduating with honors from Ocean Springs High School, Ashton Nelson attended MGCCC on a softball scholarship. During her freshman year, she had the highest batting average on the team and was named to the NJCAA All-State Team. Nelson was named to the NJCAA All-Region Team and to Who’s Who Among American Junior College Athletes during her sophomore year at the college. She graduated from MGCCC in May 2008. Nelson attended Auburn University of Montgomery, graduating in 2011. While there, she was named to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-Academic Team and was inducted into the AUM Hall of Fame for first homerun, first RBI, first run scored and first base hit. During her last semester at AUM, Nelson accepted the assistant softball coach position at MGCCC. She worked with head softball coach Kenneth Long until 2014.
Billy Zane Gordon
Coach Robert Weathers signed Billy Gordon in March 1969 as his first recruit for the 1970 season. Gordon was the points leader for the team’s 1970 season (along with Houston Cunningham), scoring in the double digits in every game. He led the team to the South Division trophy that year, scoring 21 points in the game against the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves. During his sophomore year, Gordon was named All-State Honorable Mention. He was also named the National Phi Theta Kappa president and was chosen for Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges. He was named to the Perkinston Campus Hall of Fame and voted Sophomore Class Favorite. He graduated in May 1971 with a 4.0 average.
Coach Tommy Snell says Jared Smith was the most improved player he ever coached. Smith had a slow start to his golf career at MGCCC in his first semester, but he went on to be the top golfer his next three semesters. During his freshman year, he was ranked 37th nationally, and he was named to the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Ping All- Freshman National Team. Smith was the MACJC Individual Champion, NJCAA Region XXIII Individual Champion and was ranked seventh nationally his sophomore year. He had a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament, was named an NJCAA All-American and a GCAA Ping All-American. For MGCCC Golf, Smith achieved top-five records in wins, rounds played and winning percentage at 88.9 percent. He was Snell’s 6th ranked player of all time.
Steve Campbell became head football coach at MGCCC in 2004 and remained until December 2013, when he took a job as head football coach at the University of Central Arkansas. During his time at MGCCC, he racked up an 87-22 record and added 10 trophies to the college trophy cases for six MACJC South Division Championships, three MACJC State Championships and one NJCAA Co-National Championship. Campbell’s teams also earned trophies in six bowl games, four of which were victories. He was named Coach of the Year 10 times and was inducted in the NJCAA Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Campbell is a rare individual in having been involved in three national championships – as a player at Troy State, a Division II head coach at Delta State and as a community college head coach at MGCCC.
Bulldog Hall of Honor
Dr. Charles Elliott
The Bulldog Hall of Honor Award is bestowed on an alumnus who actively supported college athletics in an auxiliary role while in college and who continues to make a positive difference to Bulldog athletics.
Charles Elliott was a member of the Perkinston Junior College band from 1958-1961. He decided to major in music thanks to his mentor, Prof. Sam Jones, director of bands. During his sophomore year at PJC, Elliott was president of the Newman Club and Classical Music Club and vice president of the sophomore class. After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education at Mississippi Southern College, now called The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), Elliott enrolled at The University of Texas as a doctoral student in music. After completion of his studies at UT, Elliott taught at the Performing Arts High School in Dallas, the University of Kansas, the University of South Carolina and USM. In his last decade at USM, he served as the director of the School of Music. He retired in 2008. Throughout his career, Elliott remained active in professional music, playing with Wayne Newton, Bernadette Peters, Joan Rivers, Johnny Mathis, Don Rickles and Bobby Rydell. He also appeared with The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Spinners, and traveled with both the Jimmy Dorsey and Guy Lombardo bands.