PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cut the ribbon Thursday on its new softball stadium and Ross-Smith Field.
Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC President, was joined by Board of Trustees Chairman Sam Albritton Jr., Perkinston Campus Vice President Dr. Ladd Taylor, softball coach Kenneth Long and other members of the Board and Bulldog Club.
"I want to thank our Board of Trustees because about six years ago we brought them a plan to improve our athletic facilities, " Graham said. "We've made a lot of improvement to our athletic facilities at Gulf Coast. People might question that commitment, but when you have a 98 percent graduation rate of student-athletes, you know the investment is well worth it."
The stadium includes 265 seats, including 45 with chairbacks. All bleacher seats have backrests. There is a terrace area available for seating, as well, bringing overall capacity to around 300. Construction started in November 2016.
Long talked about having another coach in the state stop by to hit on the way to their game against the Lady Bulldogs on the Coast. They took a tour of the nearly completed facility, and Long said the coach was more than impressed.
"He said, 'There's something different about this place right here. There's something that sets it apart,'" Long said. "He said we're the equivalent or better than other senior college stadiums. He said, 'This stadium has character.'"
The softball field moved to its current location on the Perkinston Campus in 1982. It was named Ross-Smith Field after legendary MGCCC coaches Sue Ross and Doris "Blackie" Smith in 2006.
Ross attended Perkinston Junior College, graduating in 1955. She was a member of the 1955 state championship tennis team and played basketball. Ross returned to help resurrect women's sports at the school. In 16 years as a coach, Ross's women's teams won two tennis, one volleyball, and four basketball state championships. In addition, her basketball teams took one national title, one runner-up national spot, a seventh-place national ranking, and two regional championships.
Smith coached at Gulf Coast for 20 years, compiling a 150-69 record in softball and a 129-141 record in basketball. She also coached tennis, and her teams won three state softball championships in softball and another in basketball. Her 1984 softball team won the Region 23 championship and finished seventh in nationals.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.