I was already 24 years old the first time I put on a real jersey. Sports was an option for me, but not an interest in high school. For many of my cross county teammates at Southwestern Community College, however, running was a huge part of their past, and they wanted it in their future.
Community college can be treated like the ugly stepsister. The glamorous option, certainly the one draped in the most gold and glory, is a full scholarship to a university – preferably one that will build up a student athlete’s chances to make it farther in their sport, if not some other chosen profession.
But community colleges are actually a very smart option for students who are unable to afford university – either because they could not get a scholarship or because, let’s face it, college is just really expensive.
Forbes found that in 2016, undergraduate students were leaving school with some $37,000 in students loans, which dramatically impedes the ability to buy a hous or start a family.
Even with athletic scholarships, room and board alone can be a burden on the pocketbook. Financially, community college is the best way to get General Education requirements out of the way.
For student athletes still hoping to get a scholarship, community college level sports can provide that opportunity.
More than a handful of my teammates had their eyes on universities around the state. More than one was offered a scholarship to attend based on their community college races.
For team sports, community college facilitates technical growth and development.
Several of my friends on the baseball team at SWC intentionally chose to attend community college first because they knew they would get more playing time – and therefore more time to improve – as a freshman at a junior college than as a freshman at a university.
But JC sports changed my life and I was no real athlete in the beginning. I knew I would never make a university team – even if I were good enough, I had aged out already. I was not alone in that plight. So it behooves me to say that anyone who wants to put on a jersery, push their limits, get to know themselves better or even just continue playing a game they love for a few years longer, they will find a home at community college.