BY KELLY BROWN
Sports are big business, drawing interest and ratings on an international level. Whether it be local little league or a huge NFL game, athletic competition typically stirs up excitement from fans. Many universities build school spirit on the backs of a strong athletic department. But here at the County College of Morris, the athletic program offerings have received mixed reviews from students.
Ian Dworak, a liberal arts major at CCM, said he feels excluded from the athletic department due to its lack of variety in sports programs that are offered. As a former swimmer for his high school team, Dworak feels that the department needs to establish more programs for students in order to increase athletic engagement on campus.
“They have a pool but not a swim team, and I know so many people that would join a swim team if they made one,” said Dworak. “A swim program would give students another opportunity to join a team and make new friends.”
Currently, CCM offers baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, golf, men’s and women’s basketball, lacrosse, and women’s volleyball. But as Dworak mentioned, no swim team.
“Being a student athlete is important because it forces students to manage their time and stay in shape by doing something they love,” said Dworak.
Dworak said he feels that schools that are highly engaged in athletics have a more tight-knit community, and that competition and school pride bring people together. And CCM Athletic Director Jack Sullivan agrees with Dworak. But Sullivan is also privy to the logistics of making that happen.
“Swimming We have a pool. Makes sense,” said Sullivan. “There’s nobody to compete against in our region. We’d have to travel to other states to compete.”
Adding programs would be an uphill battle, Sullivan said, as sport programs such as hockey were recently cut. But Sullivan did say there was possibility of a new team if there was a large enough number of students to support it. Any student at CCM has the option to start a club team as well, which would follow the eligibility standards of clubs rather than athletic teams. The first action that one should take in to do this is talking to the Office of Campus Life.
Eder Rivera, a business major, is one student who had the pleasure of making friends and bonding with students like himself through his experience on CCM’s Baseball team. After high school, Rivera was on the radar for multiple NCAA Division I colleges as a first and third baseman, but his GPA didn’t meet NCAA regulations, making him ineligible to play. Playing baseball at CCM brought Rivera to a new level of competition for a sport he had always excelled in, and motivated him to do better both on the field and in the classroom.
“I learned a lot about what it takes to be a college athlete,” said Rivera.“I altered my schedule to all 8 a.m. classes so that I would make practice times. You have to sacrifice a lot of different things to play at the college level.”
Rivera said that players at the junior college level provide stiff competition; he finds that students at two-year schools have to work harder than those at four-year colleges because they are the players that have something to prove. They want to stand out to gain recognition for their abilities. He specifically wanted to prove to recruiters that he was ready to play for a university team.
“You’re the players everyone looked over,” said Rivera. “But even the mediocre teams at this level will beat you if you slack off.”
During the last season, three players in the same junior college division as CCM, Region XIX, were drafted for major league teams. They came from a team that CCM only lost to by three points.
“At one point we were ranked nationally, and that’s a great feeling because you practice for this everyday and spend late nights with your team,” said Rivera.
One member of the girls volleyball team, who requested anonimity said that she felt the school could have done more to promote their matches and provide them with equipment comparable to the teams they played. Sullivan said he doesn’t consider the students concerns criticism.
“I don’t take it as criticism; I take it as recommendations,” said Sullivan. “So I would say, ‘okay we will do more to advertise.’”
Sullivan said that CCM has put up four new panels in the Fitness Center and will install TVs near the gymnasium and in the study lounge. All of these will display upcoming athletic events once hard wired to computers.
Sullivan said that his door is always open to students.
“Come to me, ask me,” said Sullivan when he heard about these complains.
Again, when it comes to the logistics of some of the equipment issues, and the shoes for the volleyball team, Sullivan said it wasn’t as simple as a lack of support.
“We don’t get into shoes; there’s a reason for that. The way the college operates, we had issues when they first got here that if we had to return them, it would make everything difficult. Sizing would be difficult. It just became very cumbersome to get shoes, but no one’s ever come to me and said since we stopped doing shoes that, ‘we want shoes,’” Sullivan said. “No one’s ever said that, because everyone likes to get their own.”
Students at CCM have the option of making change if they choose to do so, but it will require a little leg work. And it could all start by simply opening the lines of communication.
“Call me, e-mail me, come talk to me,” Sullivan said.