A culture of success, on and off the field

By Kathy McAdams

Academics and athletics go hand-in-hand at a Mississippi community college.

There’s been a saying at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) this year: “We just keep winning.”

That has certainly been true since the college has done very well in several areas. Probably the most notable win has been the national community college football championship this month against Lackawanna College (Pennsylvania) to cap an undefeated season and add to its national titles in 1948, 1971, 1984 and 2007.

The college’s other 10 sports teams also fare well, regularly winning state and regional titles. In 2018, the golf team won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II golf championship.

But what’s probably more impressive is how the college’s athletes also perform in the classroom and beyond. Athletic Director Steven Campbell said the goal is to produce not just winning athletes but students who succeed in all aspects of life.

“At Gulf Coast, we take pride in providing the best in educational, athletic and character-building experiences for our students,” he said. “We want all of our students to be well-rounded individuals who have the tools they need to reach their personal life goals.”

A look at the numbers

During 2019, 45 MGCCC student-athletes earned NJCAA academic awards, including 13 who had perfect 4.0 grade-point averages (GPAs), and three Gulf Coast teams were named NJCAA Academic Team of the Year Honorable Mention winners, with two ranking in the top 10 among their sports across the country in all divisions.

Ninety MGCCC student-athletes received Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges academic awards, including 23 who earned distinguished honors for having GPAs of 3.8 or better.

In addition, the college has won the state’s Halbrook Award — presented for maintaining the highest graduation rate among student-athletes — four times since 2009. With more than 200 players on 10 sports teams, the college graduated 97.8 percent of its student-athletes in the 2018-19 academic year.

To ensure student-athletes do well in the classroom, the college provides them with wraparound services, which include advising geared toward their needs, tutoring through the college’s Learning Resource Centers and mandatory study time established by the coaching staff.

“Our student-athletes do a great job on and off the field,” said MGCCC President Mary Graham. “They work hard and benefit from the culture of success created at the college by their coaches and the faculty and staff who provide the leadership for their achievements in the classroom and in the community. These students succeed because they are surrounded by college personnel who go above and beyond every day.”

This article originally appeared in CC Daily.

Kathy McAdams

is the public information coordinator at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.