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MCCC Athletic Director John Simone Honored with Award from National Junior College Athletic Association


NJCAA award winner John Simone, MCCC Athletics
Director and Assistant Dean

West Windsor, N.J. – Longtime Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Athletics Director John Simone has received a number of awards locally over the years, but on April 7 he was recognized at the national level for his contributions to college athletics.

During its annual awards dinner, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) honored Simone with the Mary Ellen Leicht Service Award. Named after retiring Executive Director Mary Ellen Leicht, the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the NJCAA on a national level for an extended period of time.

Simone has carried out important work for the NJCAA, serving as chairman of the committee that re-wrote and restructured the organization's handbook and by-laws. Regionally, he serves as director of compliance for Region 19. Simone was one of six athletic administrators to be recognized at the dinner.

Simone says he was very surprised to receive the national award out of 525 NJCAA member colleges nationwide.

“I was happy to chair the group that contributed important work to the organization. I have a good relationship with the national office staff and the highest respect for the work they do to help us,” he said.

Simone began his career at MCCC in 1997, when he was hired as director of athletics, fitness and recreation, following 22 years coaching  basketball and baseball, and four years as athletics director at Notre Dame High School.

After two decades at the college, Simone said it has been a real joy to work at Mercer. “I really enjoy working with my colleagues and I absolutely enjoy every day working with students who aspire to earn their degrees and pursue careers.”

In his position at MCCC, Simone oversees an athletics program that includes ten intercollegiate teams. Almost 150 students have participated on MCCC teams during the 2016-17 year.

Mercer athletes continue to have stellar opportunities in their sport and in academics. Since the late 1990s, all Mercer teams have qualified at least once for national tournaments. (Teams have advanced to national championships 11 times since 2010, including the 2016 women's cross country team.) Graduation and transfer rates for Mercer's student athletes are higher than the averages college-wide. Many receive scholarships to continue their academic and athletic careers at major colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Simone believes the Athletics Department is a window to the positive experiences of MCCC students. “Over the years, our student-athletes have brought distinction to the college. They represent us well. We have many students whose parents and siblings have attended Mercer, as well as other students from area high schools who follow in their footsteps.” Simone says that MCCC currently has strong relationships with approximately 50 high schools around the region.

Simone notes that even more importantly, the athletics program strives to give students a well-rounded college experience that prepares them for the next level. “Our staff tries to touch each athlete – personally, academically and career-wise. I’m happy to say that I know every athlete by name and that’s true of the other members of our staff as well,” he said.

He notes that a lot of student-athletes find a home at Mercer and they check back in. “I often hear from students with an update of what’s happening with them at their current college or in their career paths."

And sometimes, Simone says, that career path leads them back to Mercer. “They come back as coaches and as assistant coaches,” he said, noting that 11 members of the current coaching staff are MCCC alumni.

Simone has been recognized several times locally for his service. In 2015, he was awarded the Auggie Esso Award, presented to an individual who exemplifies and demonstrates committed service and dedication to NJCAA Region 19 athletics. In 2007 the Trenton Select Committee honored him as Man of the Year. And, in 2005, he was the recipient of the MCCC Human Relations Award, awarded to one employee each year who demonstrates superlative efforts on the job.

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