Sports programs on hold

Sports programs on hold

Pierce College has postponed several sports until next year due to coaching shortages and facility upgrades. 

The recent influx of on-campus learners has coincided with the restarting of competitive sports. 

Football returned to the gridiron on Sept. 3, while women’s volleyball and soccer started last month. But water polo is taking a hiatus while cross country will not be starting until next year. 

The postponement comes as coaches and students adjust to the renewed interest in joining teams on campus. Finding coaches that can fill the time requirements of their teams has been a challenge. 

Swim coach and former water polo coach Judi Terhar was forced to pass on teaching water polo this year to commit full time to swimming. 

“It was getting to be a bit much for me to be on the deck that long from early in the morning until late afternoon,” Terhar said. “I wanted to focus on swimming because you lose people (for water polo) if you don’t have a really strong fall semester of swim.”

Terhar wasn’t expecting this much student engagement even after COVID restrictions have been heavily lifted. Typically, her students take both swim and water polo to stay in shape for the competition season.

Terhar said that only having a swim team in the spring has taken the pressure off her two-sport athletes.

“It was too much for some of them to do all of the water polo and all of the swimming,” Terhar said. “It’s very hard to go to school full time, work, and participate as an athlete for the whole semester.”

Athletic Director Susan Armenta and Dean of Student Services Caludia Velasco have been working diligently on hiring coaches for all the in-demand sports. 

Velasco stressed the importance of bringing sports back to campus the right way.

“We’re taking things a step at a time to do things correctly,” Velasco said. “Hiring the right coach, taking our time. We’re working together more closely, and that’s a benefit all our sports will have.”

A lack of available coaches has interfered with the sports schedule this year, but it made room for some long overdue improvements to the athletic department. Several facility upgrades to fields and gyms are underway on the Pierce campus. 

“We are fixing the north and the south gym and we are fixing the baseball as well as the softball field,” Velasco said. “Also the tennis courts, they just started working on the tennis courts today.”

If students were hoping to join some sports this year or cheer from the sidelines, they are not out of luck. Velasco assured that Pierce will see more athletics next year, including men’s soccer, cross country, and water polo.

“I think it’s important to support our student-athletes,” Velasco said. “We’re doing very positive things. Athletics is rebuilding, and it’s rebuilding for good.”

Interim President Ara Aguiar said she is hopeful that water polo returns and that cross country makes its season debut.

“We have to get our pool ready,” Aguiar said. “I know that water polo was put on a hiatus due to low numbers and I do think as we fix all of these facilities we will be better positioned to have the team return.”