Legendary Coach Vince Lombardi said it best: “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
Panola College paid the price this year, with stunning results. The college has experienced a banner year in athletics, academics, and the fine arts. Dedicated coaches, faculty sponsors, and students accomplished great things with the support of the College’s administrators, Board of Trustees members, and the community.
The 2016 Fillies Volleyball Team won the NJCAA Regional Tournament for the first time since 2009, earning a trip to the National Tournament in Casper, Wyoming, where the team ended the season with a seventh place finish nationally. The exciting season was highlighted by being ranked #1 in the NJCAA poll for the final three weeks of the regular season.
Head Coach Amber McCray said team spirit and a will to win carried the team far. “I think about the selflessness these players have shown all season, not concerned about who gets the glory as long as PC gets the win. We’ve had seven different players make All-Tournament teams this year. That is unheard of to me. But when you genuinely have a ‘We Over Me’ attitude, like my sis always says, ‘Anything truly is possible.’”
Amber was named NJCAA Region XIV Coach of the Year, and sophomore player Ana Oliveira was named Most Valuable Player. The outside hitter from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was named a First Team All-American by both the NJCAA and the AVCA. Oliveira, who was injured toward the end of the regular season, played in the regional tournament and national tournament in a knee brace and underwent surgery post-season. She recuperated and recovered fully in the spring and is ready to play at the next level.
The Fillies Basketball Team made it to the Region XIV Tournament in Jacksonville after a 23-8 season, but fell to rival Kilgore College by only three points, 74-77, in round one of the tournament. Genesis Rivera from Venezuela was named to the All-Region and All-Conference teams.
As Coach Eddie Kite said, “The Fillies represented six different countries this season: Belarus, Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela and the United States. In the end, they were all a Panola College family. We made tremendous progress from last year, and we expect to continue this year’s success because we have so many strong players returning for the 2017-2018 season.”
A trip to the National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, highlighted the year for the Panola College Men’s Basketball team. The season ended with a school record 26 wins, breaking the previous record of 24 wins. The Ponies were the North Division regular season champions, Region XIV runner-up, and they advanced to the NJCAA national tournament round of 16 before falling to South Plains by only four points, 84-88.
Five players earned post-season honors, including All-Region and All-Conference. Head Coach Grant McMillan said, “We had high expectations this year for our group. We were picked high in the pre-season, and we lived up to our expectations. It was a special year, and it was worth every minute of hard work that we put in.”
It was a bittersweet year for Grant, whose father passed away in the fall. The team dedicated the rest of the year to his memory, and Coach’s mom was his biggest fan in the stands for the rest of the season.
The Panola College Rodeo Team is wrapping up another great year with individual scores that are sure to send cowboys and cowgirls to the National Collegiate Rodeo Finals in Casper, Wyoming, June 7-10. Panola College Rodeo Team members have earned the right to compete at the national level for the past few years, and 2017 will be no exception. Head Coach Jeff Collins said Panola has one student athlete who has locked in a spot, and two or three more potential national finalists, depending on the outcome of the last two collegiate rodeos.
Baseball season is in full swing, and Panola College is headed into the home stretch of the season. At the end of March, the Ponies were ranked #12 in the nation and are planning a trip to the region tournament in Arlington on May 13-16.
It was a banner year for fine arts at Panola, when eight singers earned All-State Choir honors and six musicians made the All-State Band. Sandra Bauer, vocal music professor, will serve as All-State Choir Coordinator for 2018, and is 2019 president-elect for the Texas Two Year College Choral Directors Association. Dwaine Hubbard, instrumental music professor, is the symphonic band organizer for the Texas Community College Band Director’s Association. Band and choir members represented Panola College at the Texas Music Educators’ Association Convention in San Antonio in February.
Drama students, under the direction of Karen King, won many honors in regional competition and were invited to perform “Kabuki Lady Macbeth” at The Kennedy Center American College Theater Regional Festival in San Angelo in March. Theatre student Nikki Lawhorn won regional in dramaturgy and traveled to the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in April.
Five communication students won recognition for their writing, photography, and videography talents in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association competition and attended the TIPA Convention in Dallas in late March.
The Pi Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society inducted a record number of outstanding students in two separate ceremonies, in fall 2016 and spring 2017. PTK honors academic achievement and qualifies students for university scholarships. Also, in early April, 20 students were presented trophies for Academic Excellence by their nominating faculty sponsors for outstanding achievement in specific academic areas.
“Almost 70 years ago, in June of 1947, Panola County voters approved the establishment of Panola College. Here we are, all these years later, celebrating the continued success of our college,” said Dr. Greg Powell, President. “We work every day to engage students, faculty, and staff in campus life to fulfill our mission to serve the needs of the people in our service area. We have celebrated great success this year, and we look forward to continued achievements in the future.”