GCCC football coach excited about new facility
GCCC football coach excited about new facility
By ADAM HOLT
In Matt Miller's mind, the only thing holding Garden City Community College football back from being a national contender is facilities.
That won't be the case anymore.
After more than two hours of discussion Tuesday night, the GCCC board of trustees approved during its meeting a motion to authorize the administration to enter an agreement with Hellas Construction of Austin, Texas, to negotiate terms to construct an on-campus football field and track.
The facility, which will be located on the site of the old track, between Tangeman Sports Complex and Campus Drive, will provide an on-campus field for the Broncbuster football and soccer programs to practice and play games, as well as allow for the revival of the track and field program.
"I'm very pleased with it," said Miller, the new Busters' head football coach. "I think this is something that's been long overdue here. As a football program, I can tell you from myself, all the way down through my coaches, my players, they were all behind me. I had players coming in here before I even spoke today, saying, 'Coach, get this done for us, get this done for us.'"
Prior to the beginning of the meeting, members of the community and athletic department were allowed to address the board. Miller spoke, citing the need to keep up with other schools in the Jayhawk Conference in terms as facilities, as well as safety concerns and recruiting, as reasons to get this done now.
GCCC football and soccer currently compete at Memorial Stadium, which is owned and run by Garden City USD 457, and the facility is used by a number of entities, including the Garden City YMCA and Garden City Recreation Commission. GCCC has one year left in its agreement to use Memorial Stadium, and the condition of its turf, as well as distance from campus, led to many in the athletic department looking for an on-campus solution.
Both the football and soccer teams often practice in the grass fields just west of Tangeman, which is also not an ideal situation.
Miller said not having to worry about injuries due to poor surface conditions will be a big positive.
"We'll be able to practice on a legitimate surface, I don't have to worry about losing a player," he said. "We're gonna be playing on a legitimate surface, so I won't have to worry about losing a player. Obviously, football is a very risky game. You get into it, you expect injuries. But you don't want to have to worry about injuries due to what type of surface you are practicing or playing on."
GCCC sports information director and former cross country and track coach Dan Delgado also addressed the board, echoing comments Miller made about having a place "to call our own."
"The new facility will give us indepedence, not dependence," Delgado said.
Delgado, as well as GCCC President Herbert Swender, also noted how the program makes sense logistically, as the football and soccer teams will no longer have to dress at the Perryman Athletic Complex and bus to Memorial Stadium to compete. The new facility will also ease issues of transporting equipment, and make it easier for students to attend events.
Plans call for the facility to be used for intramural programs as well, and be open to the public during specified hours.
GCCC football, coming off a bowl win, looks to be on more level ground with KJCCC rivals Butler and Hutchinson. Miller's first recruiting class already brings in more players from eastern Kansas than the Busters have typically gotten, but he admitted that the facilities situation at GCCC caused them to lose some recruiting battles. Butler just opened its new $12 million BG Products Veteran Sports Complex last fall, which is a boon for the Grizzlies' recruiting efforts.
"We've got a program to the point where we're on the cusp of having major success," Miller said to the board. "But facility-wise, we're on the bottom rung of our own conference. I truly believe this is the only thing that can hold us back."
Now, Miller has his on-campus upgrade. But he was sure to emphasize that the new facility, with a base price of $2.6 million, is beneficial to more than just the football program.
"It lets other people in our conference know, hey, Garden City means business about football. It means business about what they're doing with their other sports," Miller said. "Bringing a track program back is huge for our college. This is not just a victory for football. This is a victory for the college, for the community, and No. 1, for the students of this college."
Hellas Construction is the company that installed the artificial turf surface at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and is considered to be among the leaders in the industry throughout the United States.