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Athletes of Distinction

Meridian Community College Gives Back

Meridian Community College’s student-athletes have long distinguished themselves on the fields of competition, winning over  70 national, state, district and zone championships just since 1998. MCC has also won the Halbrook Award, which goes to the community college with the state’s top student-athlete graduate rate, three time.

But championships and classroom achievement aren’t the only things on which the MCC athletic department focuses. Community service is another major tenant of Eagle sports.

“In the Holy Scriptures,” notes MCC tennis coach Wanda McPhail, “it is written that ‘to those who much are given, much is expected.’ At MCC, we try very hard to instill in our student-athletes that it’s important that they give back to the community that has supported them. So, throughout the school year, we engage in a variety of volunteerism efforts.”

McPhail said that the fall semester has been especially busy on and off the field. The Eagle soccer teams, as an example, just finished a successful season on both the men and women’s side with individual accolades going to both our coaches, Alex George and Michael Smith, who coached the inaugural Mississippi Association of Community & Junior College’s All-Star teams.  MCC had several players chosen as all-stars.  Lady Eagle MeMe Huff of Meridian was recently named to the NJCAA All-American team.

“We’re extremely proud of our winning tradition, such as MeMe making the All-America team,” McPhail said, “but we’re just as excited when we see our athletes in service of their fellow man.  Our athletes spend many hours volunteering at both our college and in our community, such as our baseball team participating in WTOK’s Coats for Kids Drive and a Special Olympics bowling event.  Some of the players also took part in the United Way Day of Caring.  The team also participated either as volunteers or participants in the Queen City Race for Life for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Kiwanis Club’s Monster Dash benefit for local children.”

Other examples McPhail cited were:
•         During this Christmas season, the baseball team, tennis teams, golf, softball and women’s soccer manned the entrances to Bonita Lakes Mall and Sam’s Club ringing bells for the Salvation Army.  The Eagle diamond men also participated in the East Mississippi State Hospital’s parade for EMSH residents.  MCC soccer teams have been equally involved in charitable events.  The men have worked at Love’s Kitchen, a local soup kitchen in our community.  The women’s team have volunteered with the Salvation Army and along with many of our athletes participated in our state’s “Carrying of the Cross.”
•         MCC basketball teams recently volunteered at the Jingle Bell run, the Salvation Army “Angel Tree” donations, and the men’s team volunteers regularly with the Girl’s and Boy’s Club.
•         As previously stated, the tennis and golf teams were actively involved in the organization of and participation in the Salvation Army “Bell Ringers.”  They gave time to United Way’s “One Great Day of Caring” by working at the local Boy Scout camp digging holes and washing windows, they participated in “Carrying the Cross,” and have participated in  Street Strut for Breast Cancer.
•         The MCC men’s golf team adopted two children from a local elementary school for “Santa.” Many of our players have taught youth groups at local churches, read to elementary children in local schools, participated in MCC’s Lauderdale County Preview Day, participated in the City of Meridian Christmas parade, volunteered to help out with special athletic events sponsored by other MCC teams and contributed financially to local families and individuals when the need has arisen.

“Paying it forward should be a lifelong habit,” McPhail summed. “If we can be successful in instilling that ideal among our athletic programs at MCC, then it’s something our young people can carry with them long after they depart the college. Playing college sports is a privilege, and one that should be honored through community service.”

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