By: GABRIEL JACKSON
It was February 2, 2012 with 48 seconds left in the game. The crowd watched eagerly as David Hart grabbed the offensive rebound and passed it to Tyshawn Robinson. Dukes fans began screaming and jumping as the anxiety in the gym intensified. Robinson positioned himself and released the ball from his hands with less than seven seconds in the game. As the ball tips into the rim of the basket, the crowd rises with excitement. Just like a scene from a movie, the crowd goes wild filling the court with excitement. The score was 85 – 84 and the Dukes found victory against Bergen. With tremendous success like that, one may wonder how much does the athletic department ensure the success of its athletes outside of the playing field?
Cumberland County College’s athletic department began 45 years ago along with the opening of the school. The program has been shut down numerous times for unknown reasons and later returned in the spring of 1998. Since then, it has developed eight sports including women’s and men’s basketball, women’s and men’s soccer, women’s and men’s cross country, baseball, and softball. All of these sports have competed in the Garden State Athletic Conference and in region XIX of the NJCAA which is National Junior College Athletic Association. Over a hundred students enrolled in CCC participate in the athletic program. But for what? What does this program offer that will request student participation?
Most commonly people enroll in college in search of a better career in order to have a better life. This is equivalent to the concept of why students join the athletic department. This department offers numerous opportunities including connections with four-year schools, a steered pathway to success and the opportunity of becoming a well-rounded student. Many students leave the program with a clear direction. The athletic department uses their connections to ensure athletes get into desired four-year schools. Coaches and staff have various connections to local four-year schools as well as schools in the eastern region. They contact university scouts to come see their players. Student may also find interest in the facilities the department offers. The fitness center which is located in the gymnasium is open 43 hours a week. It offers a collection of cardio equipment and over a baker’s dozen of strength machines. The department also has a newly revamped baseball field, and a gymnasium that is equipped for basketball, baseball, and soccer.
Eligibility seems to be a main concern of the department. Numerous teams over the years have lost players due to classroom performance. The issue may be the difference between going to the NJCAA championship or not. Players who do poorly in one semester are placed in a probationary period for the next semester. With one semester extending over four months at a time, A student would miss out on a season and in the meantime, their academic progress is not being accounted for. That student may return the next year and may not consider the same sport which is a loss for him and the department.
Bob Amundson, who is the assistant director of the department, created an academic monitoring system which he hopes will prevent the issue of athletes becoming ineligible. The system monitors athletes performance in class and then, a spread sheet is made, that in detail, explains what the student needs to succeed academically. Student athletes receives a monthly update of their production in class, which helps Amundson look for alternative routes for them to succeed. Whether it’s tutoring or better time management skills, this process is used to create a new “game plan” for success.
The Athletic department believes that academics are important. The program understands that every graduate will not find a profession in athletics; therefore they stress the importance of a good education leading the way. Amundson states, “It is the departments goal to ensure all of their athletes are equipped to transfer into the real world. By graduating through the athletic department, the prophecies of becoming a well-rounded student will not seem foreign; and yet, it would relatively hit home.”
If you are interested in joining or want more information about the department, contact Assistant Director of Athletics, Bob Amundson at (856) 691-8600 ex.417 or check out the athletics page on Cumberland County College’s website cccnj.edu/athletics.