Long Island City, NY—LaGuardia Community College is finally going to have a team of its own. Actually, six teams, when its intercollegiate athletics program is officially launched next fall.
In October of 2013, LaGuardia’s men and women’s basketball teams will face its first community college competitors when they begin their seasons. The following fall, the men’s and women’s soccer teams will take the field while the men’s and women’s swimming teams will dive into the pool.
Each of the college’s teams will be competing against five of its CUNY sister community colleges—Queensborough, Kingsborough, Bronx, Hostos and BMCC—as well as seven regional college teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), Division III Conference. The teams are Ulster Community College, Westchester Community College, Nassau Community College, Suffolk Community College, Rockland Community College, Dutchess Community College and Sullivan Community College.
“What the establishment of an intercollegiate athletics program means for LaGuardia is that there will be an opportunity for our talented collegiate athletes to compete in a competitive environment,” said Michael Baston, vice president for student affairs. “They will get a chance to see what it is like to be part of a team.”
In developing these young athletes, Mr. Baston said the focus will be on the student in the athlete. “We want a highly competitive team, but what is critical is that these students become student scholars and campus leaders,” he said, adding that the students are required to be full-time students under NJCAA rules. “We want them to be successful in their educational pursuits first and foremost.”
To ensure that the students achieve academic success, the program will provide a wide range of academic tools. Students will be required to meet weekly with an academic success coach and counselor to make sure they are on track. Also implanted in the program will be scheduled study time that the athletes must attend.
LaGuardia’s newly hired basketball coach from May through August will be actively recruiting current LaGuardia students and students coming out of high school. “We are expecting an increase in applications from high school graduates who have dreamed about playing on a college team,” said Brian Goldstein, director of the Department of Athletics and Recreation. “They are just urged to apply early.”
Mr. Goldstein added the high school prospects are not the only ones excited about LaGuardia’s sports program. The news has created quite a buzz on campus. “I don’t think I have ever witnessed this much excitement on campus from our students and faculty,” he said. “LaGuardia has been hoping for a sports program for a very long time.”
For the urban commuter school, where many of its students rush off to family and jobs after class, Mr. Goldstein said he believes the sports teams will help create a real sense of community and will boost college spirit.
Before the basketball team officially kicks off the program next fall, the College will be spending this year making preparations. The gym will get a new roof and lighting, a resurfaced floor and new installed bleachers, and new office and training space will be added to the recreational facilities.
Since the College does not have a soccer field, city park permits will be obtained so that the team will be able to practice on nearby fields.
In the personnel area, six coaches and their assistants will be hired, along with volunteer coaches. Work-study students will also be hired to manage events, announce the games and manage sports information. “There will be a lot of job opportunities for our students,” said Mr. Goldstein.
And then there will be the college-wide “name-the-teams” campaign, which will invite students and faculty to submit their suggestions. The submissions will be narrowed down to several names, and the members of the college community will then be asked to choose their favorite. The final choice will be handed over to the Office of Marketing and Communications, which will design a logo and mascot.
Mr. Goldstein, like the rest of the college community, is looking forward to October when the men’s and women’s basketball teams will begin play in the newly renovated gym in front of a crowd of shouting fans.
“Who knows?” said an optimistic Mr. Goldstein, “maybe the teams will be in NJCAA’s March Madness.”
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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.