By Dominic Santina
With the addition of several sports, transition to a new conference, and plans for another new sports complex, Rochester College’s athletic department continues to grow.
In 2008, the college had only fielded eight teams. Since then, that number has almost tripled as RC now has 21 sports teams.
The college also transitioned from competing only in the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association to also being a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, joining the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference in 2017. Many Michigan small colleges, including Madonna University, Concordia University, Aquinas College, Siena Heights University and Davenport University, compete in the WHAC. Athletic Director Klint Pleasant said the move to the NAIA has helped with scheduling and creating rivalries.
The newest sports to RC are competitive cheer, wrestling, and women’s lacrosse, which have all been added in the past year.
The cheer team started in Fall 2017 and was streamlined to focus on sideline cheer. Now in its second year, the team is also involved in competitive cheer. Eight women compete for the team.
Wrestling competes in the Sooner Conference of the NAIA because the WHAC doesn’t sponsor the sport. Pleasant believes that wrestling will become a WHAC-sponsored sport soon.
“I think our wrestling program has momentum right now,” Pleasant said. “Coach [Paul] Holdren has done a good job of getting the program started.”
Originally planned for a two-year start, women’s lacrosse will begin competition this spring with the goal of growing the roster and the program.
“This season is our first so I think it is a reflection of the growth of the university. As a brand new program, we're going to be a smaller team, but we have a lot of room to grow and we plan to in the next few years much like the university has,” RC women’s lacrosse coach Allison Cumper said. “As the sport of lacrosse grows in Michigan, so will we. I am looking forward to seeing what this group can accomplish, they have a lot of talent and athletic ability.”
After such a expansive couple years for athletics, Pleasant said the goal for the next year is to help some of the sports become more sustainable. The goal is to grow the rosters of the current sports, including volleyball, women’s golf, men and women’s bowling, cross country and track. Pleasant said he is also looking into adding e-sports—also known as video gaming— men’s volleyball and men’s lacrosse.
The next area of expansion for the athletic department is a new sports complex that would include a multi-use field and a building that will house locker rooms, a training room, concession stand, VIP seating area and press box. The field would be home to the lacrosse, soccer and softball teams.
“It would mean a lot to have a facility on campus,” men’s soccer coach David Anderson said. “It would be a great recruiting tool for our program. It would also be really nice to have practices and games on campus. It allows us to draw more of our student body out to games.”
The RC development team is currently raising funds for the $3.5 million project. In its early stages, fundraising for the sports complex will eventually go public to the surrounding community.
With the addition of new teams, the building of a multi-use field, and the college’s transition to university status, RC athletics will continue to grow, bringing more student athletes and excitement to the college community.