By Alexander Tidd
When it comes to City College’s highly publicized and lengthy battle to maintain its accreditation status, most student and faculty members’ top concern is likely how it impacts their academic careers. However, the threat of losing accreditation has many other possible far-reaching effects.
City’s athletics department has had to adapt its collective programs to maintain the effectiveness of the college’s various sports teams. While they have encountered some challenges along the way, the athletics staff believes it will continue to put top-flight teams on the field.
“In all honesty, in terms of the quality of athletes, the number of athletes, [the accreditation battle] hasn’t impacted us at all,” head coach George Rush said.
“But what it did was make it extremely difficult to recruit athletes. All the schools that we compete against and recruit against can say, ‘Don’t go to City College; your classes will never transfer. They’re closing the school.”
Although prospective students and their parents could certainly be justified with concerns over City College’s future, Rush said his football team has continued to bring in top talent from across the country.
“Obviously we had to spend an enormous amount of time not just with the student athletes but with parents because of their concerns for their sons,” Rush said. “I would say the single biggest hurdle has been dealing with those issues and meeting with people face-to-face and telling them what the reality of the situation really was.
Freshman quarterback Alex Bell said he didn’t need any persuasion at all to try out for the team.
“It’s the best junior college football in the country, and [City College] is great on academics,” Bell, who moved from Daytona Beach, Fla. specifically to secure his spot on the Rams offense, said. “I wasn’t intimidated at all by the accreditation conflict. I’ve been planning to come here since last December.”
Bell said whatever concerns he may have had were alleviated by Rush’s earnest and thorough description of the situation.
“I feel like Coach Rush wouldn’t put me in a bad position like that,” Bell said. “He’d put me in a position to succeed.”
City College’s women’s volleyball team has also risen to meet the challenging circumstances.
“We have all returning sophomores coming back this year,” said Saga Vae, head coach of the Rams women’s volleyball team. “We have kept consistent in having the faith that our school will remain open. Our department has stayed faithful and all the coaches have shared that mindset.”
The volleyball team has added eight new recruits to its roster.
“The parents questioned whether or not we were staying open, and I assured them that we are guaranteed to be open through July 2014,” Vae said. “But not only that, I assured them that my girls are going to be taken care of—regardless of what happens.”
Vae’s pragmatic approach has kept his team feeling positive about the upcoming season.
“We are not letting it get to us,” Vae said. “We are just focusing on the upcoming season.”
Freshman volleyball player Gianna Hatchett said that Vae’s realistic and frank recognition of the accreditation battle gives her confidence for the future.
“When I first was thinking about coming out to this school, I really didn’t know that they were having problems with the accreditation,” Hatchett said. “But once I had my interview with the coaches, they made it clear it wasn’t about the teachers and education. I felt like they were really straight forward about things.”
One thing is certain—Bell and Hatchett both agree that City College’s athletics programs are among the best.
“If you want to succeed more and push yourself and go out there, I think this is an excellent place to be,” Hatchett said. “It’s definitely an honor to be able to be part of such a large and influential sports program in our nation. You’re recognized for being an athlete out here.”