Athletic programs across the nation shut down during the pandemic, but Grand Rapids Community College student-athletes were able to continue, following strict protocols that emphasized keeping students safe.
GRCC Associate Dean David Selmon served as interim athletic director during that period, and is being honored by the Michigan Community College Athletic Association for his leadership. Selmon was presented this week with an MCCAA Appreciation Award, bestowed only three times in the conference’s history.
“While Dave was the acting athletic director at GRCC, the entire world was battling the pandemic and the world of athletics was trying to find a safe way forward to reengage,” said Al Perry, MCCAA’s executive Administrator.
Perry said many colleges opted to postpone their athletic seasons, while others decided to cancel their activities entirely.
“Instead, Dave decided to roll up his sleeves, lean in and create a safe path forward for GRCC student-athletes to participate in athletics without pause,” he said. “Dave’s leadership inside and outside of GRCC was extremely beneficial to our association.”
Perry said some athletic conferences in the National Junior College Athletic Association scaled back during the pandemic. “In our region, we had several athletic programs that shut down completely, several of which have yet to begin again; and, honestly, might never begin again. But MCCAA has grown.
“This is directly related to leadership like Dave’s during the toughest of times,” he said. “We are grateful to Selmon’s time, energy and effort during his time as GRCC interim athletic director and for this we awarded him the MCCAA Appreciation Award.”
All GRCC teams competed during the pandemic, some with limited or delayed seasons. Selmon set in place extensive safety protocols, limited out-of-state travel and partnered with Ferris State University to provide weekly COVID tests for students, athletes and staff members.
During this time period, the men’s and women’s cross country teams finished in the top 10 in the nation with Joshua Kipkoech and Audrey Meyering named NJCAA All-Americans, and the volleyball and women’s basketball teams went to the NJCAA National Tournament, with basketball player Shonyah Hawkins gaining All-American honors.
“Dave has put students first his entire career,” said Tina Hoxie, GRCC’s associate provost and dean of Student Affairs. “He made it very clear that student safety and their academic success were the top priorities and he made difficult decisions. He worked hard to make sure student-athletes could accomplish their educational goals, continue to compete, and compete safely.”
Selmon native came to Grand Rapids in 1984 to play basketball at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College. The Mansfield, Ohio native later became GRCC’s basketball coach, compiling a 416-136 record over 20 years – a .751 winning percentage. He was named a conference coach of the year seven times. He was national Junior College Coach of the Year in 1995, when the Raiders reached the NJCAA Division II National Championship game, losing by one point.
As a GRCC administrator, he works with the region’s high schools to help students become aware of opportunities offered by GRCC, then directs programs to help them be successful once they are here.
“I’m very honored to be recognized by the MCCAA, but I share the credit with the GRCC colleagues who were focused on keeping our students safe, and the athletes who recognized the seriousness of the situation and followed the protocols we set in place. The pandemic disrupted us, but it didn’t defeat us.”
Athletic Director Matt Miller of Mid Michigan College also was saluted for his efforts.