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Snell retires as MGCCC golf coach

PERKINSTON — Tommy Snell built a golf dynasty at Mississippi Gulf Coast, and now he’s retiring to enjoy time with his family.

Snell’s team won the school’s first national championship in golf in 2018, and the Bulldogs have dominated the region/district, winning 12 of the last 13 titles.

“When I coach golf, I give it 100 percent,” he said. “I just felt like it was time to pass it along.”

Snell started at Perkinston in 2000. In addition to the NJCAA Division II Golf Championship in 2018, Colin Troxler won the individual national championship the previous year. Troxler is one of more than 40 golfers who have gone on to play at four-year schools, a line of players that led Gulf Coast to eight top-six finishes in a row at the national tournament starting in 2012.

Gulf Coast has sent golfers to the national tournament every year since 2002, and Snell was named PING Coach of the Year in 2008 and the Dave Williams Coach of the Year for NJCAA Division II in 2018.

“Coach Snell leaves a lasting legacy at Gulf Coast, not only in the nationally recognized golf program he has built, but in the many lives he touched along the way,” Gulf Coast President Dr. Mary S. Graham said. “His success hasn’t happened by accident. He has spent countless hours, weeks, years sharpening his skills and inspiring excellence in his students. On behalf of the entire Gulf Coast family, I wish Tommy well as he moves into this new chapter in his life.”

The program’s breakthrough year came in 2008, and that year trumps even the national championship as his most memorable moment.

“Meridian had the storied program. Hinds had a good program, so that first region in 2008, that was historic for us,” Snell said. “I worked my tail off to beat Meridian, and that was quite an achievement. And then, it’s a domino effect. After that, we won 12 out of 13. Not that winning is everything to me, because it’s not. But winning is important. Winning with the kids I’ve had is the most important.”

Gulf Coast won seven MACJC championships under Snell, and finished runners-up nine times. One remarkable fact about the national championship team is that all five players at the national tournament were from Mississippi, beating teams like South Mountain and Parkland filled with international players. The Bulldogs edged Meridian for that 2018 title, pointing to the strength of the conference.

“In my opinion, Tommy Snell is the greatest and most impactful golf coach to ever coach in the MACCC,” Gulf Coast Athletic Director Steven Campbell said.” As great of an accomplishment as that might be, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface when discussing Tommy’s accomplishments and the positive impact he has made on others. People want to work with, play for, and be led by Tommy – he’s magnetizing. He is an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting person that has created thousands of opportunities for countless individuals over his career. I hate to lose him as our head golf coach but I am happy and proud that a legend like Tommy will be able to end his spectacular career on his own terms, which is a rarity in today’s world of college sports.”

Prior to coming to Gulf Coast, Snell was the golf coach at St. John High School, where his team won five straight Class 2A state championships. He was a three-time Mississippi High School Activities Association Coach of the Year.

He was recommended to then-athletic director Chris Calcote by St. John principal Lanny Acosta and colleague Henry D’Aquilla. Dr. Willis Lott was MGCCC president, and Dr. Mary Graham, who is now the school president, was the Perkinston Campus vice president.

“Our administration has always been behind athletics, but in that vein where athletics are important but academics are more important,” Snell said. “That’s so relieving for a coach, to know your administration has your back and gives you the resources you need, within their means. From Dr. Lott to Dr. Graham, I couldn’t have asked for a better administration, along with all the athletic directors, all the vice presidents, they’ve been so supportive. I couldn’t be more proud to be from Gulf Coast.”

Snell and his wife Charlotte, who also retired from MGCCC, will spend time with their family now. They’ve got five grandkids to visit and visit more often. And he’s likely to stay involved with golf at Gulf Coast and in South Mississippi. He’ll also continue working as a rules official at NCAA and USGA events across the country.

Snell and the school have sent a string of successful golf players on to successful careers. He mentioned four golf professionals, an insurance agent, good businessmen, a dentist.

“It has been an absolute joy to work at Perk,” Snell said. “That’s the standard answer, but it’s the right answer. It’s been so rewarding. When you receive letters from kids telling what an impact the program had on them, and not to be sappy and cliché, but that’s what it’s really all about. I love winning. I’ve done my share, but in the end, when kids call me for advice, it’s really rewarding that you’ve had an impact on your community and the kids you coach.”

For more information on MGCCC’s 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.