Many students choose community college over a traditional four-year university because it is the more affordable option. A year of tuition at community college could be as low as $3,500 compared to more than $33,000 for a private university. But just because community college is more affordable doesn’t necessarily mean it is any less a real college. Many community colleges strive to mimic the “true” college experience by offering their students campus housing and social activities.
Another way in which community colleges strive to compete with traditional universities is by offering athletics programs. In early March of 2017, community college athletics was a trending topic on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media. Keep reading to learn more.
Students Choose Community Colleges for Sports
In early March 2017, the Twitter hashtag #communitycollege was filled with announcements made by incoming community college students making commitments based on athletics. Here is an overview of some of those announcements:
- On March 2, 2017, Twitter handle @jvaught11 posted, “Excited to announce that I have signed to play baseball at Chandler Gilbert Community College.” Home of the Wild Coyotes, Chandler Gilbert Community College is located in Chandler, Arizona and they offer a variety of different sports programs including baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, softball and volleyball.
- On March 8, 2017, Twitter handle @CoachRegalado posted, “Congrats to @mgonzalez13 on her visit and PWO offer to Laredo Community College!” Laredo Community College, also known as LCC, is located in Laredo, Texas and offers sports programs including baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis, and soccer.
- On March 8, 2017, Twitter handle @nardharris posted, “Truly a blessing to be able to say I’ve committed to develop and further my academic and track career at Meridian Community College!” Home of the Eagles, Meridian Community College is located in Meridian, Mississippi and offers sports programs including baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and track & field.
- On March 8, 2017, Twitter handle @LarsIAwrestle posted, “2016 state runner up and NOC wrestler Carter Cox of Atlantic has committed to wrestle at Ellsworth Community College.” Located in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Ellsworth Community College offers athletic programs for softball, baseball, basketball, football, wrestling, volleyball, and cheerleading.
- On March 8, 2017, Twitter handle @OklahomaX2017 posted, “Congrats to our girl Angel Williams @OatesAngel on signing with Labette Community College Today! Super proud of you!” Labette Community College is located in Parsons, Kansas and offers sports programs for baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, and wrestling.
Each of these community colleges has their own mission statement regarding the inclusion of sports programs but Laredo Community College’s statement is an excellent summary of the benefits of athletics programs at community college. It reads, “Our mission is to build values in education and sportsmanship, and to help our students discover their maximum potential to succeed in their life and with their academic goals. This opportunity allows our student-athletes to continue sports competition from high school to the two-year community college level with the possibility of continuing at a four-year university.”
State Community College Athletics Associations
When you think of athletics at major university and colleges, you probably also think of the major athletics associations. The NCAA is one of the biggest that comes to mind. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes at Division I, Division II, and Division III schools. But where do community college athletics programs come in? They have their own governing bodies. Here are some examples:
- CCCAA – The California Community College Athletics Association, Twitter handle @CCCAASports, regulates athletic activities for nearly 27,000 student-athletes in the state of California. The CCCAA not only regulates community college athletics programs, but they offer a variety of awards and scholarships as well.
- NJCAA – The National Junior College Athletic Association, Twitter handle https://twitter.com/NJCAA@NJCAA, exists to promote and foster athletics programs at 2-year colleges. The NJCAA is a national organization that works with a variety of athletics programs for various sports including baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, lacrosse, cross country, swimming, softball, tennis, and volleyball.
- NWAC – The Northwest Athletic Conference is a parent organization for more than 36 community colleges located throughout Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia. This organization manages tournaments and seeks to help student-athletes succeed at community college.
These are just a few examples of organizations that exist to promote and regulate athletics at the community college level. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) also exists to advocate for community colleges and their students, though they don’t provide any regulation for athletics programs in particular.
The State of Athletics Programs at Community College
If social media is any indication, it would seem that athletics programs are gaining speed at community colleges. One of the main benefits that athletics programs provide for traditional colleges and universities is money – sports programs are major money-makers at DI, DII, and DII schools. In community college, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, sports programs can actually cost a community college money. There are, however, a number of ways in which this added cost becomes worth it for the school.
For one thing, having athletics programs available for students enables community colleges to offer their students are more traditional college experience. Sports programs don’t just exist for the athletes, either – they also exist for other students who want to support their school by cheering on a sports team. Sporting events make great social activities for community college students who may not enjoy the same level of on-campus event planning that students at traditional colleges enjoy. In this way, sports programs help to foster a sense of community on community college campuses.
Sports programs do more than just create a sense of community on campus – they also provide unique educational experiences for the students involved. Participating in a team sport can teach valuable life lessons that can be applied to life both on and off the court. Sports highlight the importance of teamwork and work ethic, even in the face of hardship and loss. Participating in a sports program will push you to achieve greater things, perhaps even greater things than you imagined possible for yourself. The experiences student-athletes have in community college remain with them for the rest of their lives – experiences that occur both inside and outside the classroom.
Athletics programs at community colleges also offer some unique benefits to students that traditional colleges may not be able to match. Here are some examples:
- More playing time for students. Teams are often smaller at community college and athletes receive more individualized attention and instruction.
- Options to transfer schools. Some students use community college as a stepping stone on the way to a four-year university – this option is also available to student-athletes.
- Scholarship opportunities. While many community colleges do not have this luxury, some schools are able to offer athletic scholarships to incoming students.
- Chances to learn. At a DI school, you may have access to better facilities and more funding for your sports program, but the pressure to perform is higher as well. At a community college you may have more room to learn and grow without that pressure.
Athletics programs play an important role in community college just as they do in traditional four-year colleges and universities. If you are looking for an opportunity to continue to your education without giving up your favorite sport, consider looking into a community college that offers an athletics program. They are becoming more and more commonplace with each passing year – you may even be able to get an athletic scholarship.