Blue Bell, Pa. - Since Montgomery County Community College's founding in 1964, athletics has been at the forefront of student interest. The College's newspaper, The Montgazette, premiered on Friday March 10, 1967, showcasing an athletics column called "The Sports Outlook" by Ron Beaumont. This first edition of The Montgazette, Beaumont gives insight into the state of athletics during the College's early years, writing:
"Interest is the key factor to all sports at M.C.C.C. Basketball seems to be emerging as the first intercollegiate sport. Two games have been played, one with Spring Garden Institute and the other against Phila. Community College. The Mustangs triumphed over Spring Garden 74 to 59 but bowed to Phila., 93 to 69."
A glimpse of the past begins to unveil a fascinating backdrop for the development of athletics at the College today. Intercollegiate basketball thrived, along with a number of other sports, at Montgomery County Community College from the publishing of this article in 1967 through the 1988-1989 season. At that point a number of factors contributed to the discontinuation of the intercollegiate athletics program at the College.
Bruce Bach, current Director of Athletics, was a student at Montgomery County Community College during the intercollegiate athletics hiatus. "I would have liked to play sports for the Mustangs, but it just wasn't an option when I was a student."
After completing his Bachelor's degree in Recreation Management at California University of Pennsylvania, Bach returned to Montgomery County Community College to serve as the Intramurals Coordinator in 1996. He took pride in giving the students a chance to participate in sports, even though intercollegiate play was still unavailable.
In 2001, Dr. Karen A. Stout was appointed President of the College. An accomplished athlete herself, and outspoken proponent of intercollegiate athletics, Stout's appointment gave Bach a renewed hope that athletics would one day return to the College.
"When I heard that our new president was a field hockey and softball super star from the University of Delaware, I was ecstatic. She competed on an international travel team and in the 1998 Masters World Cup Field Hockey Championships. I kept my fingers crossed that this might mean good things for the future of athletics at the College."
Bach continued with his intramurals program, while earning his Master of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from California University of Pennsylvania. A few years later, as Bach had hoped, Stout initiated talks about the reinstatement of intercollegiate athletics at the College. She supported the proposal as a prime initiative in improving student progression and graduation.
Bach was excited to be part of the process and remained optimistic as he applied for the Director of Athletics position, which he ultimately earned. "I felt so fortunate and humbled to be chosen to lead the return of our historic intercollegiate athletics program."
After a 20-year hiatus, the Mustangs returned to the EPCC in the 2008-2009 season as a provisional team in men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, softball and baseball. The following year, the teams competed as full members in the EPCC and in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Four years later, the Mustangs have gained notoriety as a competitive team in Division III Region 19 of the NJCAA. The newly added women's volleyball team earned a Region 19 championship in 2011, while the men's and women's basketball and soccer teams all have seen post-season playoff action over the last three years.
Now Bach and his Mustangs are on a mission. "I want to see these student-athletes succeed, not just in athletics, but in academics and also in life."
Bach's plan for success includes a number of key developments in Montgomery County Community College's athletics program. Short term and long term capital plans are underway, along with the hiring and professional development of a superior coaching and support staff. An academic support program has been implemented and provides student-athletes with tutoring, peer mentoring, academic advising and transfer support. Fundraising and community service projects are in progress, including Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and Think Pink Night sponsored by the basketball teams, the Women in Red Tournament sponsored by the volleyball team and the Karen Wildey Anti-DUI Soccer Tournament sponsored by the soccer teams.
"We're on the right track and we have a lot of initiatives that are making our program a great success for our current student-athletes. But we want to reach out and connect with our past, so we're implementing a new project to reconnect with our student-athlete alumni," says Bach.
The Mustangs Alumni Initiative will include a number of events and campaigns, aimed at reconnecting former student-athletes with the new athletics program at the College. The first event, Mustangs Alumni Night, is slated for Friday April 13, 2012.
"Since Mustangs athletics began with basketball, we thought it would only be fitting that our first alumni event be an alumni basketball game," commented Bach.
All former Mustangs basketball players from 1964 to present are welcome to participate in the event. The alumni women will play the current Mustangs women's team at 6:30 p.m. and the alumni men will play the current men's team at 7:30 p.m. After the games, the alumni will have opportunity to mingle and connect with former teammates at an informal alumni social.
Bach is looking forward to the event. "I am excited to hear former athletes' stories. I think this is a great opportunity for our current student-athletes to meet alumni they can connect with and look up to as role models."
The evening will also feature a Mustangs merchandise giveaway and an appearance from the College President, Dr. Stout. "Dr. Stout is pretty competitive, so you might see her out on the court… but I can't confirm that. You'll have to attend to see for yourself."
For more information about Mustangs Alumni Night, and the exciting intercollegiate athletics program at Montgomery County Community College, please visit MustangsAtheltics.com.