1996-97 Men's Basketball
1997 FCCAA/NJCAA Region VIII Champions
The 1996-97 men’s basketball team, coached by Mike Gillespie, captured the 1997 Florida Community College Activities Association/NJCAA Region VIII Championship and brought home a third-place finish in the NJCAA Tournament.
Finishing the season with a mark of 35-2, a single-season record for wins, the team also enjoyed a 26-game winning streak to start the season, earned the program’s first number one national ranking and won a second consecutive Panhandle Conference Championship. Appearing in its first FCCAA Championship Game, TCC won the crown and punched its ticket to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., by defeating Florida Community College-Jacksonville, 73-72.
At the NJCAA Tournament, the Eagles advanced to the Final Four before falling in the National Semifinals. TCC won the third-place contest against North Idaho College, 121-116 in overtime, a game that still holds the NJCAA Tournament record for most combined points in a game (237).
Marvis “Bootsy” Thornton was the MVP of the FCCAA Tournament and was joined by Mike DeGruy on the All-Tournament Team. Thornton was also named FCCAA Player of the Year and was later tabbed an Honorable Mention All-American by the NJCAA. For his efforts, Gillespie won Coach of the Year honors from both the PC and FCCAA.
Members of the 1996-97 Eagles included: Kevin Bruno, Courtney Conyers, Mike DeGruy, Lamont Dixon, Obi Harris, Chris Hill, Paul McPherson, Winford "Eggie" McRae, Joaquin Porrata, James Smith, Marvis "Bootsy" Thornton, Robinson Tisme, Tyron Triplett.
The coaching staff included head coach Mike Gillespie and assistants Andy Colville, Joe Hayes, Jim Lamar, Jon Lobbe and Kurt Young.
Women's Basketball, 1998-00
Destiney Avent played basketball at Tallahassee Community College under Coach Teresa Atkinson from 1998-00. As a member of the Lady Eagles, she helped TCC to consecutive berths in the Florida Community College Activities Association/NJCAA Region VIII Championship Game.
A native of Manhattan, N.Y., Avent played in 66 career games with the Lady Eagles and averaged 2.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. Upon graduating from TCC in 2000, she enrolled at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, where she continued her education and basketball career (2000-02).
At UMES, Avent averaged 8.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 56 career games. As a senior in 2001-02, she averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 steals in 28 games and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. She was also named UMES’ Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
Avent earned her bachelor’s degree from UMES in 2002 and immediately embarked on what has become a successful coaching career. She later returned to UMES as an assistant coach (2003-06) and earned her master’s in guidance and counseling.
Avent is currently an assistant women’s basketball coach at Long Island University. Other stops on her coaching ledger include: Montgomery Community College (head coach, 2002-03) and Fairfield University (assistant coach, 2006-07).
Fast Pitch Softball, 1995-96
Donna Coombes played fast pitch softball at Tallahassee Community College under Coach Maria Mendoza in 1995 and 1996. Her arrival at TCC coincided with the school’s transition from slow pitch softball, and she quickly became the first dominant pitcher in the Eagles’ fast pitch era.
A native of Arcadia, Calif., the right-hander won 16 games as a freshman and was a member of TCC’s 1995 Panhandle Conference Championship team. In 1996, she established single-season records in wins (28), shutouts (11) and perfect games (2), marks that still stand today. Those numbers also earned her First-team All-Panhandle Conference honors and a spot on the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s (NFCA) All-American team.
After graduating from TCC in 1996, Coombes returned to her home state, continuing her education and softball career at California State University, Fullerton. In two seasons with the Titans, she won 23 games and became one of only seven players in school history to toss a perfect game.
Coombes currently resides in Encino, Calif., where she is Manager of Scheduling and Planning for Fox Sports Network On-Air Promotions.
Les McLeod enters the Eagle Athletics Hall of Fame as one of Tallahassee Community College’s most loyal athletics contributors.
Like his son, Mike, TCC’s veteran baseball coach, the elder McLeod has etched his own place in the history of TCC Baseball.
From the time the College rekindled its baseball program in 1990, Mr. McLeod has arguably been its number one supporter. TCC Baseball fans, past and present, have grown accustomed to seeing Mr. McLeod volunteer in some way, shape or form, during games at Eagle Field, regardless of the day or time.
Mr. McLeod’s efforts have served as an example to all of TCC’s student-athletes, thus making the experience more meaningful for players, coaches and fans alike.
Demonstrating a true love for the game, Les McLeod has gone above and beyond the call of duty to give new meaning to the title of “Hall of Famer.”
Mike Ziegler played baseball at Tallahassee Community College in 1999 under Coach Mike McLeod and enjoyed, arguably, the finest season ever by a TCC pitcher.
A native of Glen Burnie, Md., Ziegler was a member of TCC’s 1999 Panhandle Conference Championship team. As the ace of the Eagles’ pitching staff, he established single-season records in wins (15), games started (17), innings pitched (137.2), strikeouts (137) and complete games (11).
Ziegler was the runaway choice for 1999 PC and Florida Community College Activities Association Pitcher of the Year and earned Second-team All-American honors from the NJCAA. After graduating from TCC, he joined the Florida State Seminoles and earned First-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2000.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Ziegler signed a professional contract and pitched in the A’s organization from 2000-05, culminating with a pair of stints at Triple-A Sacramento in 2004 and 2005.
He is currently employed by the Oakland Athletics and works as an advance scout.