Four-dozen SMCC Student Athletes graduate
Published 2:40 pm Monday, May 16, 2022
The term student-athlete is one that Southwest Mississippi Community College doesn’t take lightly. The coaches aim for success on the fields and courts but even more so in the classroom.
And due to the immense success the Bear and Lady Bear garnered this spring semester, a total of 48 student athletes earned their degrees Thursday, seventeen of which were members of Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society.
The Bear Baseball team had a total of nine players graduate. Head coach Jack Edmonson was very proud of the ones who earned their degrees on Thursday adding that two more earned that same honor during the fall commencement late last year.
“Graduation is important and I want 100% of our kids to graduate,” he said. “And I plan on that being the case next year. It is important for the kids, our program and for the school. Those kids graduating just speaks to the kinds of kids that we have.”
Like baseball, the Lady Bear Softball team also had nine graduate. Head Coach Shea Johnson said that winning a championship is a goal but earning a degree as a student athlete has more of a lasting impact in life.
“I think that it is bigger than a championship because this is a lifetime achievement,” he said.
Following in the footsteps of baseball and softball, men’s basketball also had nine graduates during the spring semester.
New Head Coach Corey Schmidt — who worked closely with all nine during their time as the Bears’ assistant — said that he was happy to have a large number of graduates continue on in their academic and athletic careers.
“I am super proud of them,” he said. “We try to emphasize development both on and off the court and all nine of those guys did that.”
Southwest Soccer Coach Zach Mills was very happy to have two of his men and four of his women’s players graduate.
He adds that part of the goal at Southwest is not only helping the kids earn their associates degrees but also better preparing them for what they will endure in the future.
“The big part for us on the coaching staff is making sure that they have the foundation,” he said. “When they leave here, we want them to transfer out and continue to get their bachelor’s. Seeing those kids graduate is basically the most important piece of this whole thing — getting them ready for the real world or whatever’s next.”
Football normally has more kids graduate in the fall rather than the spring. Head Coach Cliff Collins was very pleased with his one graduate this spring, speaking highly of Austin McKinley.
“He did a great job for us last year, he was a positive guy on the team,” Collins said. “Everyday positive and everybody on the team liked him and he was well-like around the campus. He did what he was supposed to do in the classroom and the young man is going to be successful in life.”
The golf team had two student athletes graduate. Following a successful two-year run both on the links and in the classroom, Beau Pullen and Payton Boyd both earned their degrees Thursday.
Joyce Mabry, the Head Coach of both the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams was thrilled to have three of her men and one woman graduate.
“I’m so excited and proud of their hard work, not only in the classroom but also on the court. But it is the classroom that is going to take them to their future endeavors and I am super proud of them,” she said.
Women’s basketball also had a handful of graduates with five earning their degrees and walking across the stage. Lady Bear Head Coach Brent Harris was very happy to have five of his players walk across the stage.
“At the end of the day, that is what this deal is all about,” he said. “We want to win games but helping them get their degrees is more important. They’ve been really good for our program and we are just happy to see them succeed.”
A total of three cheerleaders also earned degrees Thursday joining three more from the fall commencement. Cheer Coach Cindy Henderson added that all six of her graduates moved on to four-year schools with three of them on cheerleading scholarships.
“Super proud, very proud. Not only did they graduate but they graduated with a super-high GPA. I know that they are prepared and I am very excited for them,” she said.
2022 STUDENT ATHLETE SPRING GRADUATES
*Indicates member of Phi Theta Kappa
-Kristal Drury (Manager)*
-Michelle Brown (Manager)
-Cederick Ellis III (Manager)*
-Jalen Bean (Manager)*
-Jaylin Jackson (Manager)