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Event Center is so much 'more than just a gym'

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Board of Governors for Mid Plains Community College, Board of Directors for the McCook Community College Foundation, College Administration, and other dignitaries assembled to cut the ribbon for the much-anticipated opening of the McCook Community College Events Center. According to MPCC Board member Dr. Michael Owens, "This campus is going to explode with action," as a result of the increased opportunities the new facility will give to the college and the community. Mid Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy stated, "We've done it and it was truly a team effort," as he thanked faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, foundation directors and numerous others who were instrumental in bringing the new facility to the campus. Board of Governors President Elizabeth Benjamin told the crowd gathered that the effort for this facility began six years ago with a "Now Is The Time" campaign. "The building is now complete and it is time to look to the future. Today is only one page in a new chapter for the college," she said as she challenged the board, administration, faculty and staff to look for new partnerships with area high schools, businesses and industry to utilize the 53,000 square foot facility. Photo by Shary Skiles, McCook Daily Gazette publisher
McCOOK, Nebraska -- The new McCook Community College Event Center is a 53,400 square-foot facility with an estimated seating capacity of 2,004 in the competitive gymnasium, 10 locker rooms, seven athletic offices, two conference rooms, an auxiliary gymnasium that can be used for baseball and softball winter training, a weight room, a catering kitchen and concessions. It's nearly three times larger than the facility it's replacing, True Hall.

With construction complete, the $9.75 million facility now gives the college a multi-functional space to support college, high school and community activities and programs including athletic and academic contests. It also gives MCC an avenue for developing a series of new programs including Recreation and Event Management; Sports and Theater Management; Sports Medicine, and Athletic Training.

"I would have to say that the facility is one of the top five facilities in the country -- it's definitely the top in the entire Region IX without a doubt," said MCC Basketball Coach Brandon Lenhart.

McCook Community College's Lady Indians volleyball team started two-a-day practices on the new court Aug. 13. Photo by Shary Skiles, McCook Daily Gazette publisher
"The Event Center will give our students, student-athletes and community members endless opportunities to grow," Lenhart said. "We are very excited to be part of such a great facility that everyone in the Mid-Plains region can be proud of."

With the completion of the facility, the next phase of the plan has been initiated with the hiring of Jennifer Morgan as Area Events Coordinator.

"I have been interested in the possibility of this particular position since construction began on the new McCook Community College Events Center and was thrilled to see the position was finally available," Morgan said.

From March of 2000 to the present she has been a self-employed consultant for City of Brighton, Brighton, Colo. and various home builders in the Denver metro area, She is a University of Nebraska product getting her B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Urban Planning. She also studied architecture at University of Colorado, including graduate credits in Urban Planning.

She said while Event Center Coordinator is a new position for MPCC and will likely evolve over time, her immediate goal is to market the facility for use beyond college events including: high school tournaments and meets, sports camps; music and theatre activities as well as community events.

She said watching all the plans come together for the Event Center has been a highly personal one for her and her family. Her husband Darin is the Director of Physical Resources at MCC and was involved in much of the planning of the facility.

"I think most everyone who has toured the facility comes away with the same reaction -- Wow!" she said, "Now we want to put it to an effective use for the college and for the community."

After this week's ribbon-cutting ceremonies, she will focus her attention on the first varsity sporting event in the new facility -- an Aug. 29 match with the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The contest is set for 7 p.m.

Coach Natalie Alred and the MCC volleyball squad were the first inhabitants of the new facility, starting practice two-a-day practices Aug. 13. Her 2012-2013 squad has an international flavor with Vanessa Bartilla of Berlin, Germany and Natasha Fontoni of Brisbane, Australia.

On Sept. 5 MCC takes on arch-rival North Platte Community College in a 7 p.m. contest which will feature inside VIP access to the Event Center starting at 5 p.m.. The event is sponsored by McCook National Bank and includes free admission and free hot dogs to area volleyball players and coaches, a VIP tour of the Event Center and an introduction to MCC players and coaches.

Other September contests include: Sept 12, against Central at 7 p.m.; Sept. 27 against Trinidad State at 7 p.m.; Sept. 28 against Otero JC at 7 p.m.; Sept. 29 against Lamar CC at 1 p.m. and against York JV at 5 p.m.; and Oct. 2 against Northeastern JC at 7 p.m.

For the first time in recent memory, McCook will host an indoor Region IX post-season event with the Region IX south division volleyball tournament Nov. 1-3. McCook will battle with Western Nebraska from Scottsbluff plus four Colorado two-year schools -- Northeastern Junior College (Sterling), Trinidad State, Otero (LaJunta) and Lamar C.C.

As for the former face of MCC athletics -- True Hall, which was built in 1939 post-depression WPA project (federal monies) -- it will become the new home for MCC's Physical Resources and will eventually allow staff to garage its vehicle fleet as well as expand its present workshop facilities presently located in Tipton Hall.

MCC students move into Brooks Hall on Saturday starting at 11:30 am. with new student orientation set for Monday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Evening classes begin Monday starting at 4 p.m.

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