Participation reflects interest

Women’s athletic program struggles to flourish

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Female students with an interest in athletics were invited to meet in GA-40 Thursday afternoon to discuss the viability of adding a new sport to the four women’s athletic teams already offered on campus.

Held shortly after lunch, the 1 p.m. event was advertised far in advance with fliers and email alerts to instructors notifying them of the need to gather all potential athletes.

Like efforts in the past, the outcome, and attendance left much to be desired.

“When people want to play basketball, they find a way to get to the gym,” Comet Athletic Director John Wade said. “They have to want to play — I can’t make them.”

In past meetings at Contra Costa College, and similar meetings at sister college Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, the symposium only inspired one student to show up.

Every student in the Contra Costa Community College District fills out an interest survey after completing a college application.

For CCC, the answers with respect to interest reflect the actual in-person attendance of the meetings.

For the athletic activities listed only gymnastics, competitive shooting, lacrosse, track and soccer generated interest, and even then it was only one respondent per sport.

The activities also include bowling, badminton, crew, cross country, fencing, golf and wrestling.

Soccer received one vote of interest, yet, CCC still failed to field a complete women’s squad this fall.

As it became apparent that the event would flame out, Athletic Administrative Secretary Shawna Belfield, along with physical education instructor Alena Summer, made a last attempt to hustle up some athletic women by making an announcement about the meeting in the fitness classes in session in the Gymnasium at the time.

“I was surprised because there were four ladies in the Fitness Center who said they were interested but didn’t show,” Belfield said. “This isn’t the end. We absolutely are going to try to inspire interest every semester.”

There were women on campus that expressed interest in competitive dance or cheer.

An implementation of either could potentially generate a larger pool of athletically inclined women. Cheer was on campus years ago but is not listed as a sport by the California Community College Athletic Association.

“In years past, cheer was active but it was set up as a club which needed an adviser,” Wade said. “To get someone that wants to do it every day, on top of their regular work, is a large commitment.”

Competitive dance, not recognized by the CCCAA, but still an option to spur activity, is still hindered by inconvenience and red tape.

“Before there could be a competitive dance team there would have to be tiered classes to build students up to a competitive level,” physical education professor Latanya Tigner said. “With the new repeatability restrictions in place, that isn’t going to happen.”

With interest statewide in a consistent decline, new methods of garnering nothing more than warm bodies to actually field a team may take some strategic maneuvering.

Kinesiology professor and Academic Senate President Beth Goehring has some ideas that could help the numbers shift in a positive direction.

“Maybe the teachers in the activity classes can help recruit players,” Goehring said. “It is disappointing. I wonder how we can encourage them to tell us more of what they want.”