MGCCC student athletes find opportunities for success on and off the field

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is proud of its athletes for what they accomplish in athletics, in the classroom and as leaders on campus.  Many MGCCC athletes are actively involved in campus and community organizations and activities.

“The MGCCC athletic program offers many students the opportunity to not only participate in sports at the college level, but to also receive an excellent education at a nationally recognized institution,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president. “We are committed to the success of our student athletes and we are pleased to have a group of student athletes who represent the college with integrity, class and enthusiasm, many receiving MACJC and NJCAA academic awards and some graduating with perfect 4.0 GPAs. Our coaches and athletic staff do an incredible job encouraging and supporting our student athletes as they continue to excel on the field and in the classroom.”

Thirty of MGCCC’s student athletes signed to play at the next level last year, and in December 2016, another 16 football players, who graduated after the fall semester, signed to play at four-year schools after only 1.5 years at Gulf Coast (they do two summer semesters and three regular semesters to get out in that timeframe).

MGCCC keeps a strong focus on academics for all student athletes, a commitment that starts at the top.  Athletic Director Robin Jeffries said that each coach is required to set up study requirements for his or her team at the beginning of the school year.  “The coaches set up their teams’ Learning Resource Lab requirements,” she said. “The LRC is where students can go to study and get tutoring and assistance from certified instructors. Throughout the year, coaches will adjust those requirements for each student athlete, based on GPA.”  The LRC is open to all students, but student athletes are required to utilize the service a certain number of hours per week.

Among the academic awards won by MGCCC athletes is the David M. Halbrook Award, which the college won in October 2016 for the fourth time since 2009.  The college has more than 200 players in 10 varsity sports, graduating 98 percent of its student-athletes in 2015-16 academic year to win the community college division.   The college also won the award in 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Additionally, six MGCCC teams earned NJCAA Academic Team of the Year honorable mention awards for having GPAs of 3.00 or better for the 2015-16 season. The Lady Bulldogs’ softball led all Gulf Coast teams with a 3.53 GPA, followed by the women’s soccer team at 3.40. The Bulldogs’ golf team finished with a 3.34 GPA, just ahead of women’s tennis at 3.33. The men’s tennis team had a 3.20 GPA, with the men’s soccer team’s 3.07 GPA also receiving recognition.

During the 2015-2016 season, 35 MGCCC players won NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards, including three who had perfect 4.0 grade-point averages: Deborah Elmore (softball), Bree Bonner (women’s soccer) and Peyton Owen (men’s basketball).

Gulf Coast also had 14 players win Superior Academic Achievement Awards, finishing with between a 3.80-3.99 GPA, and 18 players win Exemplary Academic Achievement Awards for GPAs between 3.60-3.79.

Lastly, 42 MGCCC student-athletes were named Academic All-MACJC, including 13 who earned the Distinguished distinction for having GPAs of 3.80 or better. No other school in the state had any many individuals make both lists.

 

Kathy McAdams is an award-winning journalist who has worked at weekly newspapers in Mississippi and the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala. A native of Gulfport, McAdams attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, the University of South Alabama and The University of Southern Mississippi. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and journalism and a master's degree in education and English. She has worked at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2005.