By ARINE GARIN
Athletics are returning to Amarillo College for the first time since the 1980s. Officials say this will provide opportunities for students and athletes attending AC.
Women’s volleyball, men’s baseball and men’s and women’s cross-country are the three sports set to begin in the fall of 2022. Over the summer, the college hired two coaches, bringing the program one step closer to reality.
Mark White, executive vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, said he is ready for sports to return to AC. “I’m pretty excited that we can attract a lot of local talent to our college that might have gone to other places,” White said. “What we will require of our student athletes is to complete and compete.”
White stressed the importance of the student athletes completing school.“We want them to get a certificate, to get an associate degree or transfer to a four year college. That’s what we want for all our students,” he said.
Scholarship opportunities will be available to full-time student athletes and they are expected to maintain their academic GPA.
“There is certainly a standard to remain eligible but we will set a GPA standard we believe best fits each team,” Amanda Black, the women’s volleyball coach, said. “I would like them to sit in the front two rows of classes, be leaders in the classroom by interacting as needed, have relationships with the faculty and staff and attend study hall hours we see fit as a team,” she said.
Some students say they think bringing back the sports program is a good idea. “I’m excited that AC’s adding athletics and starting it next year, it sure brings a sense of normalcy to the community as COVID continues to be in our daily life,” Breanna Raney, a nursing major, said.
“I’m really looking forward to the growth at Amarillo College,” Black said. “I know athletics will add a special element to the college and community.”
Sports facilities are being renovated. The Carter Fitness Center Will receive a $6 million makeover for a new volleyball court and bleachers. The baseball team will play and practice at Hodgetown.
Cross-country is set to begin August 2022, volleyball will to begin September 2022 and baseball to begin non-conference in the fall of 2022 with conference games in March 2023.