Running with the bulls

Players such as Jaelen Strong, Erik Kramer and Jay’Onn Myles have moved on to the National Football League from the Pierce College program. Names like these are what draw students from across the nation to the campus.  

However, in recent semesters, the football team has increased its appeal and interest to out-of-state students. To date, the football team has more than 30 players on its team from out-of-state schools.

“Over the past five years, 126 Pierce players have gone on to play Division I football. That’s a draw for players that have dreams and aspirations of going to the Division I level,” said James Sims, strength and conditioning coach. “A lot of them is word of mouth. There have been out-of-state players for years here.”

Due to Pierce’s long list of alumni, the athletics on campus are promoted and well-known to a lot of perspective athletes looking for a school to play at the college level.

One reason is the player’s ability to focus on academics while at the school. In tandem with extracurricular sports, there is educational benefits that they have.

Marquise Mickens, running back, said that attending Pierce can help get the “college stuff out of the way” by enrolling in core subjects. This way, he said, by the time he achieves a Division I level scholarship, he will be able to focus more on his athletics rather than the general academic requirements needed in college.

The culture shock of moving to California can be a major concern for students coming from out of state, but the comradery of a football team makes the transition to new surroundings less daunting.

“Any time you are a part of the largest fraternity at the school, which is football – it is the largest program – you immediately come in knowing 80 to 100 students,” Sims said. “Over a week or two, and you learn them and become a part of that family.”

Integration into the Pierce community is facilitated by the togetherness forged from the connections that come from being a part of one of largest groups on campus.

Additionally, the process is made easier with the connections between out-of-state players at Pierce and perspective athletes from the same hometown.

“A lot of the players that came last year, I knew them in high school, so it wasn’t too hard of an adjustment process,” said Jayme Vicente-Colon, defensive back. “I knew a lot of them in high school because I played against them.”

Adjusting as an out-of-state athlete is easier due to ties to one’s hometown and by working closely with people who share a common background.

However, being a good athlete is only a fraction of what makes out-of-state students successful. Another part of being successful is using the resources offered at Pierce.

“Getting the students here and preparing them for success would be my number one goal,” said Moriah Van Norman, the Pierce athletic director. “We want to make sure the students are successful, and not just in athletics. We want to make sure they’re successful academically, emotionally, physically, and to make sure they’re prepared for life after this.”

There is an emphasis and support placed on out-of-state athletes to understand that true success is using the tools learned at Pierce to ready them for future endeavors – both in their athletic and academic careers.

In past years, there were a number of athletes from out of state who were valued contributors to Pierce College’s distinguished athletic record. Pierce’s current football team is no exception to this as they continue to uphold the football team’s reputable legacy.