Lourdes College makes intercollegiate athletic debutWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After more than a year of planning, scouting and practicing, Lourdes College in Sylvania has stepped into the world of intercollegiate athletics.
This fall, with the Gray Wolves as its nickname, the school’s first women’s volleyball team posted a winning record in its inaugural season. Men’s and women’s golf teams also competed in their respective first seasons.
Roseanne Gill-Jacobson, vice president for student life and athletic director at Lourdes College, said the program has provided opportunity for the student athletes to be successful in many ways.
“Life lessons are learned in a lot of ways and athletics teach a lot of those lessons that follow you the rest of your life,” she said.
In addition to golf and women’s volleyball seasons, Lourdes College is seeing its first men’s basketball team in action. Andre Smith, the head coach of the team, said he is excited and proud of the team as it stands, even though it was sometimes a challenge during the recruiting process.
“It was like selling a new product. We had to get people to buy into something brand new,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to the kids who took a chance on this new program.”
With players from all across the United States and even a few from outside the country, Smith said his recruiting efforts took on a wide scope.
“To be a great program, you have to look outside the immediate area and bring in different styles. Of course we wanted to keep Toledo’s talent in Toledo,” he said.
Before coming on as the coach of Lourdes College’s first men’s basketball team, Smith played at the collegiate in the United States and at professional levels in Europe. These experiences, he said, have helped him build a rapport with his new team.
“When you’ve played, they look at you differently. They know you’ve been through the trenches and been through everything you’re having them go through,” he said. “It helps the overall relationship.”
Smith said the opportunity to work with his team as students and athletes is the best aspect of his job as a coach.
“At [the college] level it’s all about the kids. You get to watch them grow on and off the court into positive people,” he said.
Gill-Jacobson agreed that Lourdes’ students are benefitting from the addition of athletics.
“This has just been an opportunity for our students to grow on campus. It has enhanced spirit, and the atmosphere has made campus even more fun,” she said. “It’s been really exciting.”
Within the next few years, the college plans to boast between 10 and 15 athletic teams. Baseball and women’s basketball will start next year, while men’s volleyball will start next spring.
Other sports will be added depending on the college’s athletic conference and other opportunities afforded to the school. The school is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“We plan to add two sports a year until we have all we want,” said Gill-Jacobson.
Smith said the chance to be the first coach of the first men’s basketball team at the college has been thrilling in spite of the challenges.
“The only thing we can do is improve. These kids get to be part of history,” he said.
Paige Aten wrote this report