A significant blow to the fans of Rappahannock Community College (RCC) Baseball was struck when the program was suspended earlier this month. In the same breath, the college’s highest official states there were several reasons forcing the joint decision.
As an advocate for education, RCC president Elizabeth Crowther has expressed her favor in activities for students. This in turn made the decision to suspend the college’s popular sports program even harder.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes that have made it harder to be able to provide all the things the players need and to assure the players are going to have the motivation and drive to stick with the academics and athletics,” Crowther said.
Club softball, coached by Reggie Brann, is the only other sport that is offered to enrolled students at RCC.
Crowther went on to explain that between lack of housing and the team dropping players, there were several factors leading to the suspension of the program. The president added the difficulty in keeping students eligible has also been another factor.
Not all because of eligibility but other reasons as well, the team decreased from 20 to 13 players. A number that was not what the coaching staff felt was suitable to compete, according to Crowther. Another decision came after realizing several players from the spring season left.
She also added that coach Moore is not hired as a full-time head coach either. He shares his duties while teaching law courses at the college.
“It’s just very difficult to manage,” Crowther said pointing out the coaching staff’s responsibilities to both the school and team.
National champion with the baseball team, Brent Steffey was surprised to hear the suspension. The Colonial Beach standout played two seasons with the Gulls before playing his final collegiate years at Mary Washington University.
“The three coaches developed me from a Division 3 player into a Division 1,” Steffey said, adding that he held his experience at the RCC in high regard.
Steffey pointed out that effort should be required from the students’ standpoint to apply as much effort in the classroom as on the field.
“Classes at the RCC aren’t the easiest. You have to be dedicated to them and to the baseball program,” Steffey said.
As for the future of the program, Crowther explained that it will depend on the interest, dedication and logistics before the suspension would be lifted.
“It’s really contingent upon us to see what the demand is and how we’re going to go about managing this business of recruiting folks,” Crowther said.
The future of sports programs available at RCC is altering as the college has hosted interest meetings for soccer and basketball programs. Crowther explained that overall RCC is enrolling a lot more recent high school graduates resulting in a foundation of students who are younger and going to college fulltime.
“They need activities because they are on campus more and identifying with it,” Crowther said. “It’s just an exciting place to be right now and we need to make sure we’re giving them a full college experience.”
A bet could’ve been won if a high interest in men’s basketball was part of the stakes. This was noticeable a week ago on the Rappahannock Community College campuses in Warsaw and Glenns.
But the same could not be said about women’s basketball, or soccer. Activities Director Dean Taylor said there is still time for students to round up any of those who are interested.
“A lot of this is based on numbers and dedication,” Taylor said in the opening minutes of the interest meeting in Warsaw.
If anyone has anything to say about the short soccer numbers, it’s going to be two-time Northern Neck District MVP Juan Ochoa, who’s confident that participation will not be a factor.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Ochoa said, following graduation on Saturday. “We’ve been looking to talk to more guys, but I don’t think it will be that hard.”
Chris Gaines, a 2011 graduate of Rappahannock High School, said he didn’t believe the school would be at this point after he heard the rumors of a basketball program. It wasn’t until he spoke with Taylor that he started believing.
“It feels pretty good and I’m really excited,” Gaines said.
The Rappahannock graduate said he is especially looking forward to playing against some his former teammates and opponents including Essex graduate C.J. Johnson.
“He is one heck of a player,” Gaines said.
I’ve been playing against him for four years; he was a pain in the butt.”
Recent graduate Dorian Morris, of Northumberland High, said he was encouraged to come out after speaking with his coach Michael Stevenson. This comes after the team won the Northern Neck District Boys Basketball and Region A Championships before falling shy in the opening round of the state tournament.
“I told coach at the end of the season I wanted to further my education and play basketball at the highest level,” Morris said. “He sees a lot of potential in me and told me about this great opportunity for me to show my skills.”
The interest meeting in Warsaw was accompanied with tips on enrolling into the school and seeking financial aid. Tuesday’s meeting was filled with a mix of recent graduates and second year students.
Taylor added that the staff is still working to select coaches and remaining logistics. In the meantime, they encouraged students to enroll and encourage their peers to join the movement.
“It’s not just come here and play sports. There is another title that goes along with athlete and that’s the word student,” Taylor said. “We are here to provide an alternate activity while furthering your education.”
Crowther said she is pleased to hear the efforts by RCC’s student activities office.
“What I’m interested in is the students having is a full rounded, exciting and motivation experience in as we all are,” Crowther said. “We know its important to the experience of the students, but our basic work is the academic program.”