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Lakers sports gears up for new level of competition

Laker Current staff report

Call this a year of change for MMCC’s sports program. When the 2012-13 season kicks off this fall with men’s and women’s soccer, Mid’s sports scene will take a giant step forward.

Mid Michigan Community College finally will be a member of the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA), registering its Lakers soccer and basketball programs. The NJCAA is comprised of two-year colleges across the country, with 19 of those member colleges in Michigan.

Joining the new association marks an important step forward for MMCC’s athletics program.
As members, the college will be eligible to participate in regional and national championships and other tournaments and conferences sponsored by the NJCAA. It also allows student athletes a great deal of exposure, as they have opportunities to compete and be recognized at regional and national levels for their individual or team achievements.

Terri Szur

“It’s an important step for Laker athletics,” said MMCC Athletic Director, Terri Szur. “We’re excited about the additional opportunities for competition and for exposure that joining a national athletic association brings. It’s good for MMCC’s athletics programs, and it’s really good for our student athletes.”

The MMCC Lakers athletics programs consist of men’s and women’s basketball and soccer. The college also has a hockey team in a separate association and it remains a club sport. The hockey team opens its second season Sept. 28 against Delta College.

Joining the NJCAA indicates the college’s ongoing commitment to student activities. Athletics programming is funded by fundraising and a student activity fee. This fee also supports student activities, groups, clubs, and the student/community fitness center.

“Both men’s and women’s soccer are playing at the club level for one more year … but under the NJCAA’s rules & guidelines … so it is still more ‘official’ than previously. Both men’s & women’s teams are going to participate at the varsity level. The difference between the two levels is that varsity teams qualify for post-season tournaments and the opportunity to compete for a national title,” Szur said.

Also new this season is athletic director Szur and men’s basketball coach Kaleb House. Both were hired in the off-season.

Szur taught at the Anchor Bay Public Schools where she coached basketball, softball and volleyball for a combined 27 seasons. She also was the head women’s volleyball coach at Macomb Community College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan, where she also lettered in basketball and softball. She is currently completing her master of educational technology degree with Western Michigan University.

Kaleb House

House, a Mt. Pleasant native and Mt. Pleasant High School graduate, has taught for Beal City Public Schools. He played basketball at Kirtland Community College for two years, acting as team captain for the Firebirds’ 2003-04 season. After his time at Kirtland, House spent two years playing for Aquinas College, receiving Academic All-American status his senior year. House has coached the varsity basketball team at Beal City for the past four seasons, leading those teams to second-place conference finishes in three of those four years.

Szur has experience with both the Michigan Community College Athletic Association and the NJCAA. Her experience should be beneficial in overseeing the college’s transition from the club to the varsity level in both soccer and basketball.

“The vision of the MMCC athletics program is to provide our student-athletes with opportunities to compete collegiately while earning a quality college degree,” Szur said. “We will continue to build upon the success MMCC had at the club level.”

The MMCC Lakers have their roots in the early history of the college. Shortly after Mid Michigan Community College opened in 1968, it fielded men’s basketball and baseball teams. The Lakers would play at high schools and even wear uniforms borrowed from a local school.

After a long hiatus, the MMCC Lakers returned with a men’s soccer team in Fall 2008. That exhibition season was followed by a full season the next year and an expansion into women’s soccer. In 2010-11, the MMCC Lakers athletic program fielded men’s and women’s soccer teams and men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The hockey team opens it second season on Sept. 28. COURTESY PHOTO.

With only four teams, MMCC could not join the Michigan Community College Athletic Association, which governs varsity sports at community colleges. The MMCC Lakers program consisted of “club” sports, which are a first step to developing competitive teams in the MCCAA and the National Junior College Athletic Association. But last year hockey was added as a sport, giving the college the needed five sports to make them eligible for NJCAA participation.

This season promises to be an exciting one for all five MMCC teams. and all teams rely on students for support and participation.

For more information about MMCC athletics, including tryout information, rosters, and schedules, visit www.midmich.edu/athletics.

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