MGCCC invests $6M in athletic upgrades to help recruit, retain s - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MGCCC invests $6M in athletic upgrades to help recruit, retain students

College officials said a $6 million investment into upgrading athletics facilities will create a better college experience for all students. (Photo source: WLOX) College officials said a $6 million investment into upgrading athletics facilities will create a better college experience for all students. (Photo source: WLOX)
STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College officials said a $6 million investment into upgrading athletics facilities will create a better college experience for all students, not just those who play sports.  

It takes a lot of physical and mental toughness to play football for the Bulldogs, but the players say it's well worth it.  

"It just seems like a family around here," said A.J. Erdely, quarterback. "Everyone is close. Everyone knows everybody so just felt right." 

Right now, MGCCC is expanding the college's football stadium. Officials said the addition, which includes classrooms, a press box and more, is the first major upgrade since the stadium was built in 1949. 

"New training room. Desperately need the space to treat our athletes and help train some of our students,” said Athletic Director Burt Pickard. “We teach an intro to athletic training class to prepare our students to go to the next level and go through that program as a whole."

The third floor of the addition will be a press box, which officials said would allow more access for media groups for visiting teams. College officials said with a good balance of academics and extracurricular activities, more students will be drawn to MGCCC. 

"If you have good and strong athletic facilities, then your recruitment is strong. But more importantly, it's a great retention tool for our students," said Dr. Mary Graham, MGCCC President. "Studies have shown that if you can keep students engaged out of the classroom and in the classroom with extracurricular activities, then students will stay in school, and we're all about students finishing what they start with us."

The excitement brewing on campus isn't just among student athletes.

"We'll have state of the art concession stands and bleachers, and I think more people will want to come and watch the games at our facilities," said freshman Tara McDonald. 

"They just have great tradition here. They've always had great teams, great facilities," said Erdely. "I can't see myself going anywhere else. I know future players and classmates are going to love it here." 

Students can't wait until the fall of 2016 when they'll be loving their renovated stadium. MGCCC officials said currently about 90 percent of their student athletes graduate, and they hope the new facilities will help improve on that even more. 

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