Taking shape right outside my building is the new Multipurpose Athletic Fields. The fields will be the new home to Blazer baseball, softball and soccer. It will be the first home field for Centralia College (CC) since Noble Field was bulldozed to make room for the Kirk Library in 1989.
The excitement around these new fields is intense.
Every day, we see students and community members stopped around the perimeter, pointing and talking, everyone buzzing about when the new fields will open and what it will be like to have live sports in the neighborhood again. It’s definitely exciting. We expect the field will be done next month. The scoreboard will arrive in the spring. The first teams on the fields will be baseball and softball.
But, the larger question, amidst all the buzz and fanfare, is why we invest money in athletics facilities in the first place. Why did Centralia College students for nearly a decade vote to make these fields a high priority? Why did they volunteer to pay additional fees for these new fields?
There are several answers. Athletics builds community on a campus. Students, alumni, and community members want to be part of the team. They like to attend games and wear the blue and gold. It feels good to come together to support students in such a tangible and important way. It’s the foam fingers, the home fields, and the game nights that bring a campus to life and keep students and alumni active and engaged.
This fall, we started offering Blazer Nights for campus staff and the turnouts have been great. Even CC employees are eager to come back to campus, bring their families and support their favorite teams after their workday is done.
Beyond that, however, athletics is critical for CC students. Of the 107 athletes at CC this year, 70 are receiving a scholarship. They play sports to support their education and many intend to transfer to study and play at four-year colleges and universities. They use this time at CC to become better players and better students. They live in our community (most live in campus housing), they support local businesses and become valued members of our “home team.”
Each season, the teams are introduced to the college’s Board of Trustees. The players introduce themselves and share where they’re from and what they’re studying. It’s amazing to hear how many are working to become nurses, engineers, physical therapists, IT professionals and teachers. As an educator, I also appreciate the few who are still undecided. They’re using this time at CC to make constructive progress towards a career.
Even if they aren’t exactly sure what that career will be, their odds of graduation and success are better simply because they are here and they are working towards something.
Supporting sports directly contributes to CC’s mission, which is its ongoing commitment to student success, academic excellence and supporting community. I hope to see you out with us next spring cheering on the Blazers at baseball, softball, or soccer.
The Blazers are your teams and our students appreciate the support. Go Blazers!
Bob Mohrbacher is the president of Centralia College.