By Noah DuBois
Beginning in the fall of 2022, intercollegiate sports are coming back to Amarillo College. Men’s baseball, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross-country will be the first sports integrated into the school’s new athletic program, which fulltime Amarillo College students will be able to participate in. Amarillo College has not participated in intercollegiate sports since the 1980s when they stopped due to budget issues.
“I am very excited about sports coming to AC. I love volleyball and it would be great to finally get back on the court,” Stephanie Unger, a nursing major, said. AC will be joining the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, competing against teams in central Texas, New Mexico and the Florida Panhandle. Recruiting for the teams will begin shortly after coaches are hired.
Scholarship opportunities will be available for fulltime student-athletes as well as new facilities. The Carter Fitness Center at Amarillo College will receive a $6 million renovation for volleyball, featuring new spectator bleachers and a new court. The baseball team might have the opportunity to play at the Amarillo Sodpoodles Ballpark, Hodgetown.
“It is a good time to take the next step of trying to not only enhance student life, but is also a good enrollment initiative,” said Mark White, executive vice president, general counsel and director of athletics.
White said he hopes to be able to possibly add women’s soccer or women’s wrestling in the next three to four years.
“We would need to add another women’s sport since we’re such a high percentage of women at the college,” White, added. “I hope to see us at the national championships one day.”
Both students and community members say they are excited about the return of AC athletics, though it may be too late for some students to participate.
“That is great, I just wish it was sooner so I could play too but I’ll be cheering the Badgers on from wherever I’ll be. I hope they add a basketball team too.” Tong Duong, a general studies major, said.
“A lot of people in the community still remember our great athletic programs were in the 80s. Amarillo College has really matured in a lot of ways and this is just another step and we are really excited about it. We just hope to get back to the greatness,” White, said.