Gateway Community College Athletic Program Develops Talent
Playing sports at the college level is a dream for many high school athletes, yet exceptional athletes aren’t always recruited out of high school, leaving some without a clear path after graduation.
Gateway Community College (GCC) offers student athletes an option for keeping their dream of playing a sport in college alive. Athletic Director John Stewart, a four-time National Junior College Athletic Association Region 21 Coach of the Year, oversees the basketball program, as well as intramural sports.
The GCC basketball program has had eight men and five women named All-American and 15 to 20 All-New England players. Stewart proudly speaks of former players who have impacted the team, such as New England Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees Chantel Davis and Chazz McCarter, both of whom were the first community college players ever to be inducted. McCarter now coaches the men’s team and the women’s basketball coach is Courtney-Jo Oblena. McCarter scored over 1,000 points in two seasons. He graduated from GCC in 2010 and went on to play basketball at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU).
As head coach for the men’s basketball team, McCarter said that he finds it exciting to help young men accomplish their goals on and off the court. He noted that the word “gateway” means access or entry to a new place and as a coach that is what he wants to offer his players.
“Life is about persevering on and off the basketball court. I can recall the feeling of wanting to play basketball on the collegiate level and things not going as planned. Gateway presented me with a new opportunity and became my second chance. I am honored to be the head coach for the men’s program, allowing me the opportunity to give back to my community,” McCarter said.
GCC athletes have access to study halls, tutoring, and academic support services. A GCC athlete’s presence is felt as they are immersed in the experience and gain immediate playing time. Time on the court helps students move to the next level, providing them with an affordably priced college and the chance to play basketball at the collegiate level, and perhaps for a four-year school. Student athletes can showcase their talents and be part of a winning tradition. Home games take place at the Wexler-Grant School in New Haven.
The men’s team has made seven appearances in the NJCAA Region XXI tournament. In 2008, GCC’s women’s team had an average GPA that was ranked 18th in the nation. Numerous student athletes have used their opportunity to play for GCC to its maximum potential, successfully transferring to play for four-year colleges and universities, including SCSU, Albertus Magnus College, Central Connecticut State University, Curry College, and the University of Bridgeport.