By: Domenick Candelieri
Blackwood, NJ– The spectacle known as Friday Night Lights, sounds familiar right? Flashback, to the high school days, remembering the excitement of watching the local football team perform under the lights. It was a night for football players to play the sport they cherished and for fans, a way of coming together to socialize. Now, flash forward to Camden County College. Current students do not have an opportunity to experience this. Why you ask? It seems that there are many pending issues affecting the addition of different sports programs and facilities.
Camden County College offers seven sports and all compete in Region XIX. The seven sports that are offered are: Men’s basketball, Women’s basketball, Men’s soccer, Women’s soccer, baseball, softball, and Men’s golf. Popular sports such as football or hockey are not provided because of economic and health dilemmas. Football is not popular at most community colleges in Region XIX. Only one school offers it, which is Lackawanna College located in Scranton, PA. The cost to form a football team is a very expensive one. In fact per player, the estimate cost would be around $5,000, just for equipment. There are sixty players on the squad, you do the math. Hockey is another sport that is very expensive to take part in. The facilities of an ice rink, plus equipment per player are costly. Both sports also have the highest risk of injury out of all the seven main sports offered at CCC, making it a huge risk factor and that means money.
According to the Region XIX Sports Analysis by Robert E. Smith (Athletic director at Camden County College), “Adding additional sports teams can be problematic from a budgetary aspect. Coaching salaries, game day expenses, and travel costs can be substantial.” He arranges all of the sports teams and facilities to make sure they are being run properly. Smith is also a professor that regularly teaches accounting courses at CCC. Maintaining sports, even at the community college level, is not cheap. CCC spends a half a million dollars on its sports programs yearly, Smith said.
Despite all of the financial deficits in spending on these sports programs, facilities are being added to the campus. “Scoreboards on the soccer and baseball fields, softball fields, baseball fence, and new bleachers in the basketball gym are being renovated,” said Smith.
Terry Damminger, the athletic trainer at CCC, knows first hand what the programs and facilities are all about. Damminger makes sure she treats her athletes, so they can perform at the highest level when game day arrives. She also teaches health and physical education classes at CCC. Damminger has experienced changes to the sports programs. CCC had as many as 22 sports. Junior colleges had many sports such as track, field hockey, wrestling, cross country, and swim teams. By 1989, the programs had shrunk to just four. Damminger then saw men and women’s soccer added in 1993-1994. Title nine states that there has to be the same amount of sports for males and females. Adding sports programs now to the school will affect many people, especially Damminger.
“It will increase the overall budget, need for supplies, hours for game schedules, injuries to accommodate on, strength and conditioning programs, and the work load on a daily basis,” Damminger said.
Insurance rates will escalate, causing more financial demands. Damminger states, “Even if one of our teams makes it to nationals, we don’t get the financial gains. We have to pay it out of our own pockets, as a college.”
Athletes know first hand about the sports programs and facilities because they are the actual people that compete to represent their school. Marco Muniz, a Pennsauken native majoring in biology and entering his last year at CCC, played for the soccer team this past season. Muniz has a different perspective of how the facilities at CCC are managed.
“I think they could be better to tell you the truth. The improvement of the fields, gym equipment, and addition of lights all need to come into question. Fine quality surface on a field, as a soccer player, is a must because it enables your skill to play the ball better.”
Muniz also is a multi sport athlete. He says if sports programs were to be added, he would join a lacrosse or swimming team when soccer season ends, to keep in shape. This shows that there are students searching and asking about different sports they are interested in, he said.
“Perhaps in the near future the climate may change and our perspective might take a different slant; but at the moment I believe we (Camden County College) are right where we need to be for our college and our student athletes,” states Smith.