SMC inaugurates the 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse
Posted at 01:26 on Friday, August 19, 2022
DOWAGIAC – The grand opening of the Wednesday 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse at Southwestern Michigan College celebrates an ambitious new era.
Last fall, SMC relaunched its legendary cross-country program after a 25-year hiatus. This fall, four more intercollegiate sports – men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and men’s wrestling join the fray in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the Michigan Community College Athletic Association. (MCCAA) – while adding women’s competitive dancing, bass fishing and a cheer group.
“Tonight culminates a lot of hard work,” said board chairman Tom Jerdon. “It all started with Coach [Ron] Gunn and the rich history he and our student athletes have created,” as told in the new Hall of Champions sponsored by Wolverine Mutual Insurance Co.
“It literally put SMC on the national map. He continued with the President [David] Briegel, whose leadership grew the college through financially difficult years. During the 2000s we invested in first-class student accommodation under the leadership of Dr David Mathews, eventually building three halls of residence with 390 beds on campus. The Charles O. Zollar Building was transformed along with the Student Activity Center. Make no mistake, without quality housing and the renovation of SAC, there is no way to recreate athleticism in this era.
During the 2010s, SMC remodeled the academic buildings in Dowagiac and the Niles campus, “carefully checking off priorities to get to this time.” For SMC, the time has come for this era with the convergence of these past strategies,” said Jerdon. “In my more than 30 years on this council, we have never seen something so unifying for our students, our alumni and the university district,” well represented at a Chamber of Commerce in Greater Dowagiac after office hours.
“I’m thrilled to say the Roadrunners are back!”
Tours showed the field’s new pitch, video scoreboards, new locker rooms, a practice room, and the McLoughlin Family Foundation Suite skybox on the second floor.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in 2½ years” despite global pandemic supply chain challenges, said chairman Dr. Joe Odenwald. “There are three ingredients to building a great college: an enlightened board of trustees, a competent administration and dedicated faculty and staff. I added a fourth category, committed students. It built our college culture in the 1970s and it will build our college culture in the 2020s and beyond. I’m adding a fifth today – generous donors and community. It took a total team effort from all five.
“Since the founding of the college in 1964, this has been our most complex and ambitious undertaking. Putting up a building is complex, but it requires personnel, like quality coaches; Jordan [Pitre] advising each of these 107 student-athletes because the main thing we do here is education. It’s a great unifying experience for our college. As Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Expert advice for life and sport.
Speaking to the community, Odenwald said: “It’s been a long time since you had squads again. I have made two promises to over 100 recruits who have passed through my office – you will play at the best facilities in NJCAA Region XII and you will not play in an empty gymnasium, but in a supportive environment. I need the community to support me. I have written many verbal checks that I need your help to cash.
Athletic Director Rodell Davis, men’s basketball coach, said, “This is the nation’s first two-year varsity facility. There are three simple goals to our vision – we want to graduate our young men and women. Anyone who comes here and competes should leave with a diploma. Second, we want them to be prepared for life, whether they’re entering the workforce or entering four-year college. Third, we want to win with class and compete for championships. Our adversaries will know that they fought. We need support on game day. We want to do 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse the rowdiest environment in the NJCAA. Be patient while we build this the right way.
Dowagiac Chamber President Kris Soenen said, “Now that SMC has aligned mission, donors and contractors, it’s our job as a community to show team spirit. Just as we all know the importance of buying locally, we need to support the local team. With free entry, there are no excuses.
Vice President for Advancement Mike O’Brien recognized the major donors, which also include Midwest Energy and Communications; Spectrum Health/Lakeland, a preferred provider of sports medicine and athletic training services; Pepsi; Adidas; and members of the Founders Club.
He also recognized Abonmarche and architect Arvin Delacruz and general contractors, Pearson Construction Co., Benton Harbor.
The first official home game at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 27 will pit Jenny Nate’s volleyball team against the Lake Michigan College Red Hawks in Benton Harbor and the North Central Michigan College Timberwolves in Petoskey.