Michigan Gateway Community Foundation donates to SMC Athletics project

Published 1:47 pm Monday, September 12, 2022

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College announced today that Michigan Gateway Community Foundation has made a generous grant of $10,000 to the enhanced athletics facilities in the Charles O. Zollar Building on the Dowagiac campus.  

“Michigan Gateway Community Foundation has done so much for Southwest Michigan, including this support for college attainment to improve the opportunities for our youth and to enhance our local workforce,” said Dr. Joe Odenwald, SMC President. “Their participation in this project is another example of how they invest in the future of Cass County. It will help enable another 100 students per year to work on a certificate or degree as they continue a beloved activity that keeps them engaged in campus life.”

Michael Rowland, President of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, added, ”Southwestern Michigan College is an incredibly important partner for the work we do here at Michigan Gateway Community Foundation. We have a great deal of students, through Buchanan Promise and our general scholarships, meeting their educational goals with the resources they provide. With that in mind, we wanted to partner with them to provide as many opportunities as possible for our students. We are proud to be a small part of their success.”

Following the return of nationally-ranked cross country teams to competition in Fall 2021, the SMC Board of Trustees authorized the return of NJCAA men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and men’s wrestling for Fall 2022. SMC has also started a women’s competitive dance team, a collegiate bass-fishing team and a pep band to deepen student engagement.

To create a first-class destination venue, the Zollar remodeling project includes replacement of the original gymnasium floor with a new high-grade basketball and volleyball surface, replacement of the original bleachers with a new system that meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and provides better comfort and accessibility for fans of all ages. The project also includes installation of energy-efficient LED overhead lights, installation of a new video scoreboard and audio system, construction of new state-of-the-art locker rooms for the Roadrunners, reconfiguration of the existing locker rooms for visiting teams, the addition of an Officials’ Room, and construction of a second-floor suite of coaches’ offices and gathering area – with a glass wall overlooking the court – suitable for receptions, recruiting events and premium viewing experiences. The facilities were completed in late July and student-athletes have been practicing and playing in the space for the first time in 26 years.

The college hosted a dedication ceremony on Aug. 17, and the first official matches on the new court in the 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse were contested against Lake Michigan College and North Central Michigan College on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Other partners in the project include 1st Source Bank, Midwest Energy and Communications and two local family foundations.

The Michigan Gateway Community Foundation began in 1977 and has evolved into a full service, accredited, and standards compliant Foundation serving Southern Berrien County, focused on Niles and Buchanan, and all of Cass County. Their mission is to foster a community of philanthropy, for good, forever.