By James Howey
Sports can sometimes seem untouchable, often serving as a getaway from the problems students may face in everyday life. The recent news about the cutting of the college’s golf and tennis programs for the 2014-15 academic year was another harsh reminder that sports, just like any other program at the college, can fall victim to budget cuts.
“Probably one of my low-lights of things I’ve had to do in this position is cutting the programs of two great hall of fame coaches,” said the college’s athletic director Carl Heinrich.
This year’s cuts will save around $200,000, according to Heinrich. It’s not the first time the college’s sports department has had to cut for money.
“We cut two hundred thousand last year not many people know about that,” Heinrich said. “We’ve cut close to half a million in the last two years.”
The recent decrease in enrollment at the college is the main cause for the cuts, he said.
“Last year we tried to survive without eliminating any programs and it came down this year when we had an enrollment that was down six percent in the fall and eight percent in the spring,” Heinrich said. “Our projected enrollment for this year was a two percent in increase for both semesters; so you’re looking at a difference of an eighteen percent budget in enrollment.”
The tennis and golf programs have seen great success under their respective head coaches. Glen Moser has been at the helm of the college’s tennis program for 35 years and under his coaching the program amassed 24 region team championships, 33 top ten, 11 top five team finishes at the national tournament and 30 all-American performers.
Lafayette Norwood has been the head golf coach at the college for 21 years and has led the program to much success and accolades such as 16 top 20 finishes in NJCAA, two top ten team finishes three KJCAA titles, three conference medalists, one professional tour player and three all Americans with fourth and sixth place finishes in the nation.
“We have been considered one of the top 10 junior college golf programs in the nation,” Norwood said. “We have had two players to win the national putting contest and one player winning the nation’s long drive contest.”
When reflecting on his time as golf coach at the college coach, Norwood looks back with pride of the success of the golf program and players.
“The young men that come through our program become successful individuals and those with the golfing skills went as far as possible,” coach Norwood said. “Johnson County on the National scene is known to compete with the best.”
Moser agrees the college’s golf program has helped to advance student athletes.
“I feel that we have given many student-athletes locally and from all over the world, the opportunity to develop their tennis skills as well as to mature in the classroom so that they could obtain good scholarships at the four year level,” Moser said. “It has been wonderful watching and assisting these young in reaching their goals and dreams.”
The cutting of the tennis program is not lost on the thoughts of some local high school coaches like Shawnee Mission East tennis head coach Sue Chipman.
“Our local high school athletes will be affected because the Johnson County Community College tennis program has usually included some of the area’s best players,” Chipman said. “Not having that option available will mean that some of those players may not continue playing at the college level.”
The cuts will not just affect the college, but also the community, Chipman explained.
“Continuing the tennis program at JCCC could very well have greater influence on our area’s health than we realize,” she said.
If the enrollment at the college continues to trim down students may see even more cuts to programs at the college.
“You know if enrollment doesn’t grow we’re going to have to probably look at some more cuts,” Heinrich said. “It’s a tough thing.”
Contact James Howey, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.