AUBURN – The size of the Central Maine Community College athletic department is about to double.
CMCC announced this week that it will add men’s soccer, men’s and women’s volleyball and golf programs for the 2007-08 school year.
Men’s and women’s basketball have been mainstays on the lakeside campus for more than a decade, with baseball and softball developing a growing niche as non traditional fall sports.
Athletic director Dave Gonyea said the expansion of his department is in response to student demand.
“We built a new residence hall. We’re doubling the size of our campus,” Gonyea said. “We have 250 students living here, and the kids want more services and opportunities. It’s going to have an effect on a lot of the things we do, all of which I think are good.”
Braden Zamore, who was recently hired as resident director at the college, has been named coach of the volleyball teams.
Gonyea has begun the word-of-mouth process of hiring soccer and golf coaches, as well as drumming up interest among current and lapsed students who might be eligible and eager to play. There will be a formal meeting next week.
“People laugh when I tell them this, but I have almost four thousand people on my e-mail list,” Gonyea said. “So it’s out there nationally. Now it’s a matter of talking to kids. You would be surprised to find out how many of them haven’t even registered for fall classes yet.”
In addition to the new offerings, Gonyea also researched lacrosse, which he said may be reconsidered within a year or two. Women’s soccer is also a likely future addition.
Men’s soccer was a full-time program until four years ago, when CMCC dropped the sport due to waning interest.
“So much has changed for us in the last five years,” Gonyea said. “The community college system has become a viable option for any kid who is not looking at one of the Bates, Bowdoin or Colby-type schools.”
Gonyea attributes the growth at CMCC to its relative low cost and the transferability of credits to four-year colleges and universities.
He estimated that a commuter student could complete both 2007-08 semesters for about $4,000, with resident students paying roughly $10,000 for the year.
Money for the new sports will come from a student activities fund, not from additions to the college’s mainstream budget.
“This college does not waste money. We’re frugal. It’s a very conservative system,” Gonyea said. “That’s one reason why I’m still here.”
One significant cost of the new programs is transportation. CMCC currently charters buses to road games. A round-trip journey to league opponent New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, for instance, costs $1,000.
Due to set schedules and budgets, Gonyea expects that his new teams will be forced to play mostly away games in their inaugural season.
“It’s challenging. High schools don’t have to deal with a lot of that stuff,” Gonyea said. “We don’t travel in vans. We just feel it’s a safety issue and that the kids are safer on a bus.”
CMCC competes in the Yankee Small College Conference and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
Gonyea guided the men’s basketball program to a small-school national championship in 2003, and the school hosted the national tournament for several years.
While he admitted that the sports program went into a relative lull in mid-decade, Gonyea sees this summer’s growth as a parallel to post-secondary educational trends around the state.
“I’m not fighting to get kids anymore,” Gonyea said. “People are starting to look at two years versus four years, and why wouldn’t they start by coming here? The sad part is, a lot of the kids we get come back to us with $15,000 to $20,000 debt from going somewhere else.”