WNCC athletics receives approval

Opening day for the Western Nevada Community College baseball team likely to occure sometime next February has officially became a reality. The Western Nevada Wildcats will begin play in baseball in 2005.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved WNCC's proposal to expand its athletic program at its meeting on Friday in Elko. WNCC currently operates a rodeo program out of Fallon and the Board of Regents approval clears the way for the school to add baseball and women's soccer.

WNCC will begin play in baseball at Governor's Field in 2005 and will begin play in women's soccer at Edmonds Park in the fall, 2005.

"We're very excited," WNCC vice president Helaine Jesse, who has led the effort to restore athletics at WNCC. "We're thrilled that it was a unanimous vote."

The last time WNCC had athletics before it began a rodeo program was in the 1970s when it had a men's basketball team. In December 1972, WNCC played its first basketball game against Lassen College and in 1973-74, the WNCC Wildcats joined the Golden Valley Conference playing teams from Eureka, Mendocino, Lassen, Yuba, Napa, Oroville, Shasta, American River, Quincy, and Umpqua. Three years later, WNCC had to disband the program because of issues over funding and Title IX.

WNCC will compete as an independent in baseball in 2005. In 2005-2006, WNCC plans to join the Bay Valley Conference in women's soccer and baseball. The school has submitted a request to join the conference to the Commission on Athletics, the governing body for California community college athletics.

The Bay Valley Conference has 17 schools from the Bay Area to the Sacramento area that compete in West and East divisions.

The school has also officially began to advertise for a baseball coach, although the process has already been set in motion. When asked if a large number of coaches have already asked about the position, Jesse said,

"Oh yeah, oh my gosh, you can't imagine how many. From all over. I think these people are excited about the opportunity to start a program from scratch." Jesse noted a coach from Portland has asked about the position.

Jesse said a coach will be hired no later than the end of July. When asked when she would like to have a coach hired, Jesse said, "As soon as possible."

The half-time position will pay $25,000 a year, plus benefits. A bachelor's degree wil be required and if the coach has a master's, he'll have the chance to teach up to nine credits. The school has set a schedule to hire a women's soccer coach in January.

While the new coach will receive a late start in forming his team, Jesse said recruiting shouldn't be a problem as many high school athletes from across the state, including Las Vegas, have already asked about playing at WNCC.

"There's kids out there who want to play," Jesse said. "They're just waiting to hear about this."

Since WNCC will play as an independent next year, it's hard to say what kind of schedule the school will be able to form, Jesse said. "The first year's a learning year," she said.

The school has already gotten off to a strong start in raising the needed funds for its athletic programs as it has raised $150,000 so far. For the first few years, the funding from athletic programs will have to come mostly from private funds.

Jesse said the school may have to look at a student athletic fee to help fund the teams as well. One possibility is an extra $5 a credit, Jesse said. "We're going to have to eventually look at that," she said.

Interested candidates to be baseball coach should send a letter of application, resume, three letters of reference, and official graduate and undergraduate transcripts to the Human Resources Office, 2201 W. College Parkway, Carson City, Nev. 89703. Applications received by June 25 will receive full consideration. For more information, call Jesse, (775) 445-3240.

Contact Charles Whisnand at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.

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