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HAMMOCK: Georgia Gwinnett College' live broadcast extends athletic program's reach locally

The latest step in Georgia Gwinnett College’s immersion into the community came late Wednesday morning, when a green-clad group watched the first remote broadcast of Grizzlies LIVE.

GGC launched the remote version of the show, previously shot in the college’s athletics building, this week at Newk’s Eatery in Lawrenceville with the idea of increasing local interest in Grizzly athletics.

“We are thrilled to be engaging the community in a completely new way,” said GGC athletic director Darin Wilson, who watched the live show remotely during his travel to an out-of-state conference. “This promises to be an exciting season on the fields and courts, and we look forward to interacting with our fans through one of our valued community sponsors.”

The initial Grizzlies LIVE crowd was smallish, but GGC officials expect the attendance to grow quickly, much like the college’s athletic programs.

In less than two years, GGC has constructed successful soccer, baseball, softball and tennis programs behind a strong base of proven coaches and talented athletes. The Grizzlies also have a posh, new athletic complex on a campus that not too long ago didn’t have intercollegiate athletics.

Founded in 2005, GGC developed its academic reputation and large student body (its undergraduate enrollment is nearing 10,000) rapidly, but athletics didn’t join the mix until Wilson was hired in August, 2011.

At the time, GGC had no coaches, no facilities and no equipment. Wilson watched it grow from the ground up, literally in many cases, and word began to spread about the fledgling athletic program.

Without a team on the field for a year, it was tough to promote GGC athletics. That changed over the past two years with games and events on campus, youth camps with Grizzly head coaches and other community events.

Now it’s common to see the Grizzly logo on shirts and hats in the Gwinnett area, a trend that should continue its growth with more activities like Wednesday’s initial Grizzlies LIVE at Newk’s.

The public can now see the Web broadcast, roughly 30 minutes, each Wednesday at 11 a.m. this spring (all at Newk’s), for free through the Grizzly Digital Network at www.GrizzlyAthletics.com or check it out in person. Fans can ask questions at the broadcast or through social media to the guests, which will include GGC coaches, athletes and other college personnel along with the show’s host, “Voice of the Grizzlies” Matt Mahony.

The show is part of an already solid digital network that includes player features and reports from road trips. GGC fans also will be able to watch more than 50 live, free Grizzly baseball and softball games and tennis matches via the network this spring alone.

It’s great to see GGC extend its reach into the community with these type of events, introducing a hometown intercollegiate athletics program to a county that had been dominated for years by youth, prep and professional sports.

With each Grizzlies LIVE and other school events, GGC gets closer to exactly what it wants locally — a college athletic program that Gwinnett can call its own.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.