Laker Current staff report
The future of sports at Mid Michigan Community College looks bright, according to second-year athletic director Terri Szur.
The focus this year will clearly be on the men’s and women’s basketball teams, following the deactivation of the men’s and women’s soccer teams for the 2013-2014 season.
“The plan is to really solidify basketball at the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) level this year and to survey our students in the fall, as well as future students, as to what type of sports we should look to add next,” Szur explained. “That input will help us to further develop the athletic program.”
She said the goal for athletics over the next three years is to add three more teams so that the college can become members of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association, which is the state league in Michigan comprised of two-year colleges that sponsor NJCAA athletic teams. She said that association has been a good resource for helping MMCC develop a more competitive schedule.
“To be members and to play for their championships we have to host five teams,” Szur said. “We are members of the NJCAA in basketball at the present time.”
With the deactivation of the two soccer teams, MMCC is down to two active teams. The hockey team, which was started two years ago, remains a club activity.
Szur explained that the soccer teams were deactivated following a series of events. “It was the perfect storm,” she said. “While our teams were competitive last season, they didn’t have the time to put their programs together for a varsity status. Consequently they played at a club level in the NJCAA.”
She noted that there are different academic requirements between the club and varsity levels, adding that the goal is to have all MMCC sports at a varsity status. “To accomplish this in soccer, essentially we have to recruit new teams.” She said she felt both teams had a good season last year, but with the resignation of both soccer coaches in May due to additional responsibilities with family and career, the next step seemed obvious.
“Instead of rushing to find coaches, it was felt it would be more prudent to deactivate the teams for the year and to poll the student body on what type of sports they would like to see us offer and what they would support as fans,” she said.
Szur said she felt attendance was good at soccer matches and basketball games last year.
“We have had great interest in our basketball programs by potential student-athletes and moderate interest in soccer prior to deactivating it for the year,” she said. “My understanding is that baseball and softball have a lot of support in the area along with volleyball and basketball.”
She said there have been “minor discussions” about adding bowling or cross country teams.
As for this year, Szur’s expectations are high for both basketball teams. “We have retained our basketball staff and I know both programs are eager to continue building,” she said. “The goal is a .500 record or better versus our opponents so that we can qualify for the post-season. If we qualify, we have the potential to host the first round of the NJCAA Division III playoffs.”
She said both teams will see the return of some core players and the addition of some key recruits.
Szur said she can’t stress enough the importance of playing in the NJACC as well as joining the MCCAA.
“I know from personal experience when I was coaching at the juco (junior college) level that potential student-athletes use both the NJCAA as well as the MCCAA websites when looking for places to play and attend school,” she explained. “The NJCAA has a set of rigorous rules, both academically and athletically, that we must comply with to maintain our membership. I believe that the more support we receive from the college and community will help us market MMCC and attract more students.”
Academics, however, remain key to meeting the needs of student-athletes, Szur said. “Their fondest memories may be of their time on the court or playing fields, but what they take from the classroom is going to serve as a foundation for the rest of their lives,” she said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Playing schedules for both basketball teams are expected to be available at the start of the fall semester.