Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College recognized the Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame, Spirt of Gulf Coast, Bulldog Hall of Honor and Sam Owen Award inductees at a dinner and awards ceremony in their honor on October 20 at the IP Casino Resort in Biloxi. The honorees will also be recognized at the pep rally at noon and during halftime activities on Homecoming Day, October 22.
2016 ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME HONOREES
The Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to recognize the accomplishments of MGCCC coaches and athletes.
- Dale Chatham, baseball – Dale Chatham played on Ken “Curly” Farris’ 1978 and 1979 baseball team. The Bulldogs won the 1979 South Division and the NJCAA Region VII crown. At the close of the 1979 season, Chatham was named Mississippi Association of Junior Colleges All-State, NJCAA All-Region VIII, NJCAA All-Eastern Region and NJCAA All-American, and was deemed NJCAA Best Pitcher. With a 14-1 record, he was the winningest pitcher in the nation for the 1979 season. He still holds the MGCCC record for strikeouts — 146 in 1979.
- Katherine Gendron, softball – Katherine Gendron was a pitcher and played third base on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College softball teams of 1979 and 1980 under Coach Doris Smith. She also played basketball for Coach Sue Ross. She was named All-State in 1980. Currently, Gendron is a physical education teacher at Ocean Springs High School, where she began working in 1985. She was head assistant fast-pitch softball coach for one year, head girls basketball coach 1986-1999 and head boys and girls tennis coach in 1999, a position she still holds. In tennis, her teams have won six 6A state championships in succession — 2010-2015. Her tennis teams have also won 16 district championships and 21 individual state championships. Gendron has been named Mississippi Association of Coaches Coach of the Year five times, and in 2012, she was named National Federation of State High School Associations, Southern Section, Coach of the Year.
- Sonny Pisarich, football – Pisarich scored a touchdown in the 33-0 November 12, 1966, massacre of Pearl River at Milner Stadium in Gulfport — the first victory of the Bulldogs over the Wildcats in 18 years. On November 19 of that year, Pisarich sacked the Jones County quarterback on the fourth down deep in Bulldog territory with time running out, thus ensuring the 21-14 Bulldog victory that earned the Perkinston institution’s first football state championship since 1948. In 1967, Pisarich also played centerfield on Ken “Curly” Farris’ state championship baseball team, and that fall, played tight end on another Bulldog football state championship team. Named to First Team All-State in December 1967, he received the coveted Dr. D. L. Hollis Athletic Trophy for “the sophomore who has best promoted athletics by exemplary conduct” at the Perkinston Awards Day Assembly on May 16, 1968.
- Joe Saia (deceased), football – Graduating from Mississippi State with a Bachelor of Science degree in business, Saia signed a contract at Perkinston Junior College to begin August 15, 1947, as assistant to new head coach Marvin “Red” Campbell of New Albany. Campbell and Saia used the eight wins and three losses of the 1947 season to lay the groundwork for 1948 – the first undefeated and untied season in the history of Perkinston Junior College football. On December 17, 1948, at the close of this magnificent 12-0 season, the Paul B. Williamson Rating System of New Orleans declared Perkinston Junior College and Compton (California) Junior College to be National Junior College Football Co-Champions.
- Janice Felsher Seymour, basketball – Seymour was a guard on the college women’s basketball teams of 1952 and 1953. The 1953 Perkette basketball team won South Division. The 1953 MAJC trophy won by this women’s basketball team was the first since 1929 and the last until 1977 for the women’s team. She became the first head Perkette for the dance team in 1952-1953. As the basketball team was also called the Perkettes, she was a Perkette twice over.
- Leonard Sumrall, tennis – Leonard Sumrall, of Gulfport, was a Perkinston Junior College student and athlete from 1953-1955. He was a Perkinston Agricultural High School and Junior College teacher and coach from 1958-1963. He received a letter in tennis and a letter in basketball in 1954. On April 30, 1955, Sumrall won the MAJC tennis singles. That year, he was a member of Davis’ 1955 MAJC championship team. Sumrall was awarded the D. L. Hollis Athletic Trophy (1955) as the athlete who contributed the most to the all-around athletic program. Sumrall never lost a college tennis match.
- Hayes Weathersby, golf – Aubrey Hayes Weathersby, of Poplarville, attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College from 2012-2014, playing golf both years. During his freshman year, Aubrey Hayes Weathersby was a Medalist (lowest score in an event) three times straight in MACJC events. He was named to First Team All-MACJC. In 2014, Weathersby was ranked fifth nationally by Golfstat and was named First-Team ALL-MACJC. He won the Hubert Tucker Award for lowest stroke average (73.10) in the MACJC for the entire season. He was selected NJCAA All-Region XXIII, NJCAA First-Team All-American and Ping All-American. He finished fourth in the national tournament. During his time at the college, Weathersby racked up numerous MGCCC records, including first all-time for medals in one season with five and first all-time counting scores with 97 percent.
2016 BULLDOG HALL OF HONOR RECIPIENT
The Bulldog Hall of Honor award was established in 2008 to recognize and honor individuals who have gone over and beyond in promotion and participation in and around athletic events at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Wilma Proffitt Valentine –Wilma Proffitt Valentine, of Biloxi, began her time at the Harrison-Stone-Jackson Agricultural High School in September 1937 and graduated with honors in June 1941. She was a Perkinston Junior College student from September 1941 to May 1943. During her time in college at Perk, she was Super Duper Blue Devils Tumbling Team captain (1942-1943) and she lettered in tennis (1942) and was tennis doubles captain (1943). She was secretary to the president and assistant registrar from November 1944 to December 1945. While in high school and in college, she was a drum majorette for the Perkinston Junior College band (1938-1943).
2016 SPIRIT OF GULF COAST HONOREE
The Spirit of Gulf Coast award was established in 2008 to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant personal and/or financial contributions in support of Bulldog Athletics.
- Glen East, 2016 Spirit of Gulf Coast – Glen East, of Gulfport, is superintendent of the Gulfport School District, a position he has held since 2005. A native of the city, East graduated from Gulfport High School in 1979. He received his bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College in 1983 and his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1985.
2016 ALUMNI HALL OF FAME HONOREES
The Alumni Hall of Fame award was established in 1970 to honor former alumni who have exhibited exceptional merit and achievement resulting in fame and recognition for themselves and the college.
- Kevin Holland, Jackson County Campus – Holland, of Ocean Springs, has been the chief executive officer of Singing River Health System since 2014. A native of Pascagoula, Holland attended the Jackson County Campus from 1989-1991. After attending MGCCC, he transferred to Mississippi State University and graduated from there in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He did his post-graduate work at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he earned both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science and Health Administration. He completed his administrative residency at Eastern Health System in Birmingham. He and his wife, Beth, have two sons, both currently students at Ocean Springs High School. He is actively involved in the Jackson County community, including St. Paul United Methodist Church, where he teaches Sunday School and Youth.
- Leonard Papania, Jefferson Davis Campus – A Gulfport native, Papania is the chief of police in Gulfport, a position he has held for the past three years. He joined the force fulltime in 1994. During his tenure with the Gulfport Police Department, he has worked as a reserve officer and patrol officer. He served as part of a street-crimes unit and in the narcotics division. He was a task force member with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the DEA, and he later served in internal affairs. He attended Gulfport High School and, after graduating, he went to MGCCC’s Jefferson Davis Campus off and on from 1984 to 1987 before transferring to The University of Southern Mississippi to complete his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Papania and his wife, Angela, have been married since 1990. They have four children – James, Nicholas, Bennet and Rosie.
- Chett Harrison, Perkinston Campus – A native of Wiggins, Harrison is the vice president and general manager of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Biloxi. He attended the Perkinston Campus from 1985-1988. After leaving MGCCC, he received his bachelor’s degree in advertising and a minor in marketing from The University of Southern Mississippi. He graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1990. Harrison, now a resident of Gulfport, is married to wife, Kim, who he met on a cruise out of New Orleans. The couple has two children: son Presley, 15, and daughter Jessica, 13.
2016 SAM OWEN AWARD RECIPIENT
The Sam Owen Award was established and given in memory of the late Sam Owen, a 1927 Perkinston graduate. It is given each year to a person who has actively supported the college through dedication and service.
- Charles Sullivan, 2016 Sam Owen Award –Sullivan was hired on August 23, 1967 as a social studies instructor, beginning his long tenure with the college. In 1992, President Barry Mellinger and the Board of Trustees approved Sullivan and then-Publicity Director Winfred Moncrief to handle the development of a college archives. At the time, he thought it would take a couple of years to complete the archives, but this year, he has exclaimed that it is still not complete! In 1994, he began writing the history of the institution. The book, “Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College: A History 1911-2000,” required an estimated 20,000 hours across eight years to complete and arrived in Perkinston on September 27, 2002. It is 608 pages and contains 1,230 illustrations and approximately 320,900 words. Sullivan was named Spirit of Gulf Coast in 2002 for his exceptional support of MGCCC athletics. He retired from teaching in May 2006 to become full-time/part-time MGCCC Archivist, a position he still holds. He was named professor emeritus in 2006.