Intramural Football kicked off today at GNTC! The Walker County Campus hosted the first game of the season. This co-ed offering is available each fall semester on the WCC and FCC. The FCC will host opening week games this Thursday beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Ready for softball in Bobcats Country???
Intramural Sign-Ups on the WCC will be Tuesday, August 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Student Center in the first floor of Building 500. Individuals and teams are encouraged to sign-up. Students from all campuses and online may take part in intramurals on any campus.
Get Focused. Get Hired.
(Myrtle Beach, SC) – About three years ago, when Georgia Northwestern first began its cheerleading program, head coach Karen Stoker admittedly didn’t know too much about the sport on the collegiate level.
Today, she can add College National Championship Coach on her resume.
The Cheer Cats became the first team in the 10-year history of the athletic department of Georgia Northwestern to win a national title when they took home top honors of the collegiate division at the Eastern Cheer and Dance Nationals in Mrytle Beach, S.C. on Sunday.
“When we started the program, I didn’t know if we would ever be a competition squad,” she said on Sunday night. “I spent the first year just recruiting and trying to become knowledgeable about college cheerleading. I was just happy with the way we were supporting our teams, so when the kids (last year) wanted to try and earn a bid to nationals, I was just thrilled when they got one.”
Just 12 months later, Stoker will have a bright, shiny new national championship trophy to sell to potential recruits.
“For me personally, I’m tickled, but it’s really all about the kids and how important this is to them,” she continued. “Today was a good day and was a good feeling for all the kids to walk up on stage and get that national championship banner and trophy. I’m one content coach.”
Coming off a seventh-place showing in their division at the National Cheerleading Association nationals in Florida in April of 2015, the Cheer Cats had earned a return trip to NCA Nationals last summer through their performance at a cheer camp in Louisville, Ky.
But when the squad ended up losing some of its athletes to due to injury and other reasons and did not have enough athletes to compete in NCA, Stoker set out to find a new national competition for her squad.
“I found Eastern Cheer and Dance and it offered a good division for us where we didn’t have to compete against the larger Division I schools,” she explained.
Stoker said the squad scored high from the judges in the Game Day part of the routine and “expressed themselves really well as college cheerleaders.” The Cheer Cats ended with 439 points – 437.25 after a deduction – but still had a high enough score to take home the championship.
“Our pyramids and tosses were pretty strong,” she added. “We did well with jumps and tumbling and the judges said we had good crowd appeal. It wasn’t a perfect routine – we did have the one deduction – but the things we did, we did well.”
With the win, the Cheer Cats also earned a bid to the U.S. Finals, which Stoker compared to getting a bid to the Olympic Trials.
“It’s something we’ll be looking into,” she said. “I’m not sure if we’ll end up going or not, but it’s nice to open that (championship) packet and know we have that option.”
David Stephenson, the school’s Athletic Director and the person who helped bring Stoker in to start up the program at Georgia Northwestern, said the national championship was something that could only help the athletic department as a whole.
“When we started talking about having cheerleading a few years ago, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But having (the Cheer Cats) has brought a different dynamic to our whole athletic department. It’s another great recruiting tool. It helps to get the Bobcat brand out there and adding something of this prestige will only enhance it.
“Karen and her staff do a great job and always have so it’s nice to see it all culminate with this. I’m proud for all the kids and happy for her and her staff.”
Stoker said to end the year in this fashion was a thrill for both the cheerleaders coming back and the ones that will be leaving the program.
“For the four that will be leaving us – Selena Dupree, Virgil McCoy, Mayvit Sandoval and Codie Weldon (Shredder, the school’s Bobcat mascot) – it’s a great way to go out,” she said. “And for the ones coming back, it’s a great way to springboard into a new year. They are already making big plans for next year.”
Stoker also expressed her gratitude to Grant and Rachel Magness of Hot Shots in Rome for helping the team with its choreography.
Inn8, GNTC Partner In NW Georgia
(Chattanooga, Tennessee) – As the Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Athletic Department begins to plan its 10th year of intercollegiate competition, the corporate partnerships from both sides of the Georgia/Tennessee state line continue to grow. In an era, where many schools have to work hard to make ends meet when it comes to athletics, the long-term vision of GNTC’s programs are made possible, in part, by the help of Inn8 Touch Massage in East Ridge, Tennessee.
Owner Derek Bhimji has been in business for five years and simply wants to give back to help athletes excel. “I want to help these student-athletes to perform the way they want so they can continue to do what they love,” said Bhimji. “We specialize in sports massage and neuromuscular therapy. These areas are key for the athletes in the college’s athletic programs.”
The college first launched its two initial athletic offerings, Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Women’s Volleyball nearly a decade ago. After seeing their first action on the court in early 2008, it wouldn’t be long after that local companies would begin to see a real benefit in what GNTC was providing. Bhimji is no exception and now one of more than a dozen regular contributors to Georgia Northwestern Athletics each year.
“For the past few years, David has come to our facilities to give the athletes sports massages, as well as speak with them about how to rehab injuries they are suffering,” said GNTC Athletics Coordinator David Stephenson. “His steady support of what we do, along with the growing number of others who are giving to our programs with each passing year, shows me the level of impact we are having in our North Georgia communities.”
Stephenson and Bhimji have been working on the collegiate partnership since 2013. Bhimji’s business, Inn8 Touch Massage Therapy, is located in East Ridge, Tennessee. Bhimji and his wife, Brittney, have two children, as well.
Donations made to GNTC Athletics are made by way of the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Foundation. From academic programs to intercollegiate athletic offerings at the Technical College System of Georgia institute, all gifts to any function of the college are managed by the GNTC Foundation. GNTC Director of Institutional Advancement Jason Gamel leads a team of community leaders from across the college’s nine-county service area in helping gain support of the companies and people the college serves throughout the year.
For more information on GNTC Athletics, the GNTC Foundation, or anything related to the college, contact them at 866.983.4682 (GNTC). You can find them on the Internet at GNTC.edu. Also, Georgia Northwestern can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.
Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.
(Walker County, Georgia) – What was once just a line item in a study looking to boost the college experience for local students has become a major selling point for Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
The year 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of athletics at the school. This past decade has seen Bobcat and Lady Bobcat intercollegiate teams compete for and win region championships, battle in national tournaments and make a name for themselves against some of the top small college programs in the country.
But for Athletic Director David Stephenson, it means so much more than that.
“Our mission statement, if there is one, is ‘education, character and athletic development’,” he explained. “Our goal, first and foremost, is to get our guys and girls an education so they can go out later and make a living, while at the same time teaching them life skills. If we can do all of that, while at the same time giving them the awesome opportunity to play college sports, we’ve met our goal.”
“WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A PEACH BASKET”
A 2005 study funded by Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) schools asked students for their input in how to make the technical schools feel more like community colleges, and sports was one of top things mentioned by the students.
Bobcat Athletic Hall of Famer Jeff King was serving as the college’s Vice President of Administrative Services when he was informed by then-college president Dr. Ray Brooks of a plan by other TCSG schools to try and start up their own athletic programs.
“We didn’t have any teams or equipment or uniforms or anything,” King recalled. “All we had was a thought that we might do this. Just a wing and a prayer.”
Some stories were sent out by the school’s media relations department explaining the school’s plan to introduce athletics for the first time in more than 40 years. One of those stories caught Stephenson’s eye.
“There was a lot of prayer because everyone wanted to do this right from the start,” said Don Foley, one of the school’s public relations and media personnel who helped write and send out the stories. “We put a few (stories) out there about what it is we wanted to do here and David called us before we even posted the job opening.”
After the position was posted and the interviews were conducted, Stephenson got the call and the offer to head up the fledging program.
“I still remember the day Jeff (King) called and hired me for the position,” he explained. “He told me two things. One, he had no clue as to how much they could pay me because they had never done anything like this before and two, he said he was still amazed I would even take the job considering we didn’t even have a peach basket or a basketball to throw it into.
“For me personally, it’s just amazing to see how much we have grown.”
“We had about 12 guys show up to that first basketball meeting, some didn’t even play in high school,” King said. “Fortunately, though, we had some that did. That first team was mostly local kids and we played against other technical schools. The next thing you know, we didn’t lose a game and we had a lot of people showing up to our games too.
“We’ve gone from there to becoming an (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division III program and competing for championships. It’s grown beyond any of our thoughts and I hope it continues to grow. I give David total props for all of this. Someone without his persistence and hard work would have given up a long time ago. But at least we can pay him now.”
OTHER SPORTS ARE ADDED
Men’s basketball wasn’t the only sport that started up at the college that first year. Then known as Northwestern Technical College, the “Mustangs” were adopted as the team’s official mascot and the first Lady Mustangs’ volleyball team took the floor.
That squad, then-coached by Tricia Goodwin, traveled all over the Southeast, playing against various club-level teams from a number of different schools and even picking up a couple of wins against club teams from Southeastern Conference schools.
In 2010, Northwestern Tech and Coosa Valley Tech in Rome merged to form Georgia Northwestern Technical College with the “Bobcats” becoming the new school’s nickname and mascot.
Women’s basketball was added that same year under Jim Williams and the Lady Bobcats won a region title in its very first season. In 2011-2012, the underdog Lady Bobcats would earn the college’s first-ever national tournament berth in any sport as they advanced to the tournament’s Sweet 16 before falling to nationally-ranked Montgomery-Rockville of Maryland.
But despite the successes, there was air of trouble looming under the surface.
“I DIDN’T THINK WE WERE GOING TO MAKE IT”
Financial problems in the TCSG during that time were forcing a number of schools in the state to make deep cuts. Other schools merged in order to save money and for several schools in the system, athletics was some of the fat that had to be trimmed.
“There were a couple of years, honestly, I didn’t think we were going to make it because of budget cuts, college mergers and other things,” Stephenson said.
He said a number of people deserve the credit for keeping athletics at GNTC alive, in particular King and the school’s Student Life Coordinator, Dione Waddington.
“Jeff was serving as our interim president and campus provost during those lean years and he was the driving force in fighting for us,” Stephenson said. “He kept telling people that sports here would be a great thing.
“And for the first six or seven years of our existence, we were totally relying on Dione budgeting us the money to exist. Even in these past two or three years, when we’ve ran short or needed something that wasn’t in the budget, I’ve never known her to question any budget requests I’ve made of her. She’s even sacrificed some things on her part because she felt like athletics was that important. Dione has always been very supportive of me and what we’re doing.”
But survive the program did.
Today, the school still offers men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, but they have since added men’s golf and co-ed competition cheerleading to its list with the most recent additions having seen quite a bit of early success.
The Cheer Cats qualified for NCA Nationals in Florida on their very first attempt and ended up placing seventh in the nation in their division. The squad has already qualified again for Nationals this April.
That same month, the Bobcat golf team will be looking to defending its GCAA championship. Georgia Northwestern, in just its second season as a program and in its first year of eligibility for regional and national play, claimed the 2015 Region 17 Division III title and earned a spot at Nationals in New York.
There, the Bobcats placed third overall in their national tournament debut and they had two golfers finish in the top six individually to earn All-American honors.
“To make the advancements we’ve made in just 10 years is remarkable,” Foley added. “You look at all the students that have come through here. It’s pretty fast growth for intercollegiate athletics.”
A BOOST FOR THE SCHOOL
While athletics is just a small part of the many facets that make up Georgia Northwestern Technical College, its impact reaches far beyond the sidelines and fairways.
“When we first talked about it 10 years ago, I had no idea it would grow this much,” Waddington said. “I think it’s been great P.R. for us. It’s definitely expanded our Student Life and it makes the students feel like they are a part of something.
“When we recruit students to the school and they find out we have athletics, it brings a sparkle to their eye. It makes them look at our school differently, knowing they might still have a chance to do what they love and play here instead of having to go off somewhere else and spend thousands of dollars. I think it helps legitimize the college even more.”
“Having (athletics) is definitely an asset to the college for a variety of standpoints,” said Stuart Phillips, the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “One of the questions we’re asked most is ‘do you have athletics? Even the kids that don’t participate in athletics, still want to attend a college that does.
“It’s added a new dimension for us. We’ve seen it grow under great leadership from David (Stephenson) and (GNTC President) Pete McDonald and we’re looking forward to seeing it grow further in the future.”
GIVING BACK TO OTHERS
The past decade has seen the school’s athletic department give back to the community as well.
Community organizations, such as Toys for Tots and the LaFayette Care Mission, have been benefactors of the support given by the school’s teams and staff in the form of Toy and Food Drive Games. The department has also worked hard to honor veterans, police officers, firefighters and first responders during special dates throughout the seasons.
“That’s something that has been very important to me personally,” Stephenson added. “I even told the interview committee when I applied, if you’re looking for someone who is only concerned about wins and losses, you’ve got the wrong guy.
“I wanted to use the program as a platform to reach out and do things for people in the community. Every year I’ve been here, our community outreach has continued to grow.”
While the program has enjoyed fairly steady growth in the last 10 years, Stephenson is optimistic that even more could be on the horizon.
“I would like to see us add at least one more men’s and one more women’s sport, even if it’s the same sport, within the next two years for sure,” he said. “I would to see us have our own gym facility, preferably on the new Catoosa County campus. I’d like to get to the point where we are totally self-sufficient and I would like to see our female athlete population rise. It’s starting to grow more than it has in recent years, but I want to see it take off to the point where there are as many females trying out for sports as there are males.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
While Stephenson deserves a lot of credit for getting the program where it is today, he is quick to name others who have also played big roles in getting the program off the ground and keeping it there.
Past and current school administrators like McDonald, Brooks, King and Phillips, staff members such as Waddington, Foley and Amber Jordan (public relations) and Stephenson’s current group of coaches, assistant coaches, staff members and volunteers have all been instrumental in the continued growth of the program.
Then there are others, such as Stump Martin and later Carthell Rogers, with the Rossville Athletic Center, numerous businesses and corporate sponsors and others who give of their time and work behind the scenes to keep the program on a first-class level.
“That very first meeting I had with our (prospective) student-athletes, I told them we were going to try to make this athletic program the same as any other intercollegiate (athletic) program of our size in the country and I think we’ve done that,” Stephenson explained. “It’s been my baby for 10 years and it’s been neat to see it grow from infant and toddler stages to running the way I knew it could.
“To be at this point with the awesome staff I have, it’s all a God thing. Plus, we’ve had some tremendous student-athletes and some tremendous support from our administration. When we started all of this, some technical colleges (that also began athletics) didn’t make it. Some of their programs folded after a year or two, but we’re still around.
“I can look at the photos on my office wall and see some of the outstanding student-athletes we’ve worked with over the years. I know we have impacted their lives, not just from an athletic standpoint, but from an academic sense and a character sense and that is probably what I’m most proud of.”
Congrats to our own Ashley Farrell from Calhoun, Georgia. She was named the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for last week.
Ashley Farrell, a sophomore guard from Calhoun (Gordon Central HS), has been named the GCAA Division III Player of the Week for Dec. 2.
Farrell had 13 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal in a 61-46 home loss to the Bryan College junior varsity team on Nov. 23.