By Ann Marie Galvan
The City College athletics department received a $142,688.44 donation from the UA Local 38, Plumbers and Pipefitters union in June. While no substantial purchases have been made so far, the athletics department hopes to make the gift last a long time and are planning for its future.
“We’re looking at it as kind of like an endowment. We want this to last, you know, 15 years,” said Justin Labagh, physical education chair and men’s basketball head coach.
Eddie Kaeuper, dean of the school of health, physical education and social services, agreed. “We want to move with this purposefully. Looking for the best ways we can offer support and where the biggest need is. You don’t just rush forward with money like that.”
City College’s athletics has a history of success. In the 2021-2022 season, the Rams football team won its 11th national championship and ninth state title with a perfect 13-0 run, and the men’s basketball team won the CCCAA basketball championship tournament.
The teams always need supplies. “We have a really robust athletic program. Our football team has 100 full-time student athletes on it. All our teams are really healthy right now. I think we have close to about 400 student athletes. And that’s a lot of practice uniforms. That’s a lot of helmets. That’s a lot of travel,” said Labagh.
The department is interested in purchasing uniforms and conditioning equipment, among other items. Uniforms have a high turnover rate because they experience a lot of damage during play. The road jerseys for women’s soccer are white, for example, which is especially prone to weathering.
“A lot of synthetic turf fields have a substance that’s underneath the field that typically gets absorbed in the uniform. So after a certain amount of time and just wear and tear, people grabbing on them, you probably have a life of about two years. So every two years, you’re replacing them and you try and stagger it,” said Jeffrey Wilson, women’s soccer head coach.
The department also has bigger items they’d like to purchase. Currently, the City College baseball team plays and practices in Pacifica. The team used to practice at Balboa Park, but the park’s disrepair prompted them to find better maintained fields. The athletics department wants to purchase batting cages so the team can practice on campus more often since the need to travel for games and practices is difficult.
“A couple days a week they could do hitting here and some fielding out on the soccer field. That’s the direction we’re trying to go in. This Local 38 donation is going to help us in that for sure,” Labagh said.
Also on the agenda is a permanent scoreboard for the soccer field. Right now, the department has a portable scoreboard that is stored in an equipment shed. The scoreboard needs to be wheeled out for games.
“It’s probably the smallest version of a scoreboard you can have — it’s pretty light. That just makes it easier for transport, and getting it in and out of the shed and setting it up for game days,” said Wilson.
“But it’s not ideal. It’s pretty dented. It’s been thrown over in the wind before. And I can’t think of another school in our conference that doesn’t have a permanent scoreboard. I think we’re the only school that has a temporary one,” Wilson continued.
A permanent scoreboard for the soccer field would not only eliminate the need to set up and take down the scoreboard for every game, but it would also boost morale for the soccer teams.
“I think any time that athletes see what other schools have, and then see what our own institution has, they feel a little bit of that inequity,” Wilson said. “Yeah, definitely athletes have brought it up to me in the past.”
Thanks to the Local 38 donation, money isn’t the issue in purchasing a new scoreboard. Rather, the process for setting up equipment on campus poses the larger problem. In order for the scoreboard to be mounted, City College’s Buildings and Grounds department would need to approve it first.
“Those would all have to be checked off by Buildings and Grounds and something that typically takes a long time to get done. So even though you have the funds, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get the project done,” Wilson said.
The same is also true of batting cages for the baseball team since the placement of the equipment needs to be cleared with Buildings and Grounds first.
“The batting cages are connected to Buildings and Grounds. But they’re completely overwhelmed. And, you know, with the campus being closed for two years and everybody now coming back? I think they have like, 450 work orders to do. We need their cooperation to put batting cages somewhere on this campus,” Labagh said.
Local 38 and City College have a long history together, and City College accredits Local 38’s plumbing apprenticeship program. The donation was raised through the proceeds of Local 38’s 75th anniversary and new union hall grand opening celebration, and the funds will boost City College athletics for a long time to come. “This, by far, is one of those amazing kind of gifts. It is very generous of them,” said Wilson.