Athletic department expands with increased number of athletes at UCCS

October 10, 2016

Rachel Librach

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     The number of athletes increased from 187 to 351 since the last school year as a result of the Athletic Department’s recent expansion.

     Both Division II sports, a women’s lacrosse team and men’s baseball team were added this fall as a result of last spring’s student fee initiative for an athletic fee.

     In addition to the new teams, a new baseball stadium is expected to finish by 2017 and an indoor training facility for track and field by 2018. As of this fall, 164 new athletes have been recruited.

     The new athletes have traveled from 19 states as well as different counties in Colorado to attend UCCS.

     21 of the 26 women on the lacrosse team are freshmen, according to head coach Christine Hatton.

     “I think we have a lot of talent coming in, but we do have to prove ourselves because we have girls that haven’t played collegelevel ball yet going up against girls who have been here for three or four years,” said Hatton.

     “I think we can definitely prove ourselves and we have the ability to do so.”

     Nate Gibson, executive director of the Athletic Department, said that because women’s lacrosse is a new sport, there is a lot of new talent that hasn’t played at UCCS before.

     Men’s baseball started as a club but became an official program this year, according to Gibson. He added that this gave men’s baseball an advantage since they have had a roster and competed in tournaments before.

     “I think you’ll see pretty quickly we are going to have a lot of success because we brought in high-level athletes to compete,” said Gibson. “(The recruitment process) is very competitive and the opportunity to play college level sports is limited.”

     According to the NCAA website, a student is cleared to play upon reviewing the studentathlete’s academic record, amateur status and SAT or ACT scores to ensure conformity with NCAA rules.

     “We look for students who can compete in the classroom first and foremost and beyond that we bring in a high-level athlete also. Even though we have a lot of freshmen, these are high-level players that have had a lot of success and experience at the level that they played at,” said Gibson.

     Even if the student is cleared through NCAA, Gibson said that the program coaches still have the final say on whether or not they will recruit the studentathlete.

     “This is a select group of high-caliber athletes that earn this opportunity and often times it comes down to having to decide between two high level athletes for the team. At the end of the day our coaches do a really good job of bringing in a high-level athlete and that’s what we ask them to do.” T

     The track and field team has also experienced issues with a lack of available facilities to train its athletes, according to Gibson.

     The track and field team will use the Garry Berry Stadium and District 11’s track which has allowed the program to offer more opportunities for new student athletes looking to compete in high jumps, long jumps, throwing and sprinting.