As you enter the Novak Field House Gymnasium, the walls are freshly colored sky blue and new equipment shines all over the rebuilt weight room, expecting new visitors to come use the facility. Meanwhile some of the practice soccer fields at Prince George's Community College stay empty, with only the wind blowing the forest green grass.
Changes were of plenty for the PGCC Athletics Department during the summer. The Novak Field House Gymnasium received new renovations while the school was awarded the opportunity to host the 2012 NJCAA Region XX Men's Basketball Championships in February 2012. However, due to the lack of player participation this year, the school's Women's Soccer program has been cancelled for the year and the department hopes to rebuild it in time for the Fall 2012 season.
Before the start of the summer break, the Novak Field House started its new interior upgrades in order to get it ready for the 2011 school year. This is the second year of a three-year project of renovations for PGCC Athletics that began with the new Bermuda Soccer Field last year. The project will end with work inside center court and the bleachers in the gym in 2012, according to Jo Ann Rogers Todaro, PGCC's Athletic Director.
"It's called interior improvements," Todaro stated about the new improvements to the Field House. "We are trying to modernize this building that was built around 1962 and it hadn't received any interior improvements in over five years."
This year, the Gymnasium received a new facelift and has become more handicapped accessible than ever before. The walls received a new paint job in the school's color, light blue, and new titles have been placed. Athletes can now work out more efficiently in the new, relocated weight room, with brand new workout equipment. Dancers can practice better in the dance studio that has new flooring. Both male and female locker rooms have been upgraded with a "Chalk Talk" area where coaches and players can review game tape, brand new lockers, and individual showers.
Coupled with the improvements to the Field House, PGCC beat out six other schools to host the 2012 NJCAA Men's Basketball Regional Tournament, starting in February 28, 2012 and the Finals would take place in March 4. According to Todaro, it was a "big thing" to win the bid, had a lot of backing from the administration, and hopes that the success that the regional tournament could bring could also help with the school obtain the rights to host a basketball national tournament once rebuilding is done.
"We try every year to bring some sort of big event to Prince George's Community College, for exposer for the college as a whole, but also for our teams," Todaro stated. "We get a lot of support from the administration, especially for events that will enhance the student experience. They are 100% percent behind it and so is the community."
Even though bringing the regional tournament to the college was a runaway success, the Women's Soccer program is stuck at a standstill. After a season of misfortune and finishing the year with only three wins, the Lady Owls looked poised for a comeback year in 2011. High hopes were especially up after the success brought by hosting the NCJAA Women's National Tournament last year, which increased the school's soccer program's profile.
However, according to Todaro, the resignation of Coach Matthew Geiser before the start of the summer break caused the department to quickly find a new coach before the start of the 2011 season. On June 1st, David Jones was hired to be the team's new head coach and together with the department, started to actively recruit enough females build the team around.
By September, before the roster deadline date by the NCJAA, only three women players signed up to play. After mulling over all options and trying to recruit players in time for either an intramural or a school travel/club team, only the same three players could turn in their physical forms in on time. The Athletic Department was left with no choice but to cancel the Lady Owls soccer team for this season and starts plans to rebuild for 2012.
"I started the women's soccer program here in 1997, worked really hard to bring the national championship here last year, and even got married on our soccer field," Torado said about her strong commitment to the sport. "So there is no person more interested in making sure our women's soccer program success than myself,"
As one of the NCJAA Head Chair Persons involved with Women's Soccer in the whole nation, Torado is disappointed at what has happened with not only soccer but the drop in participation in all women's sports at PGCC. She remains hopeful and optimistic that more women will come out to participate and that the soccer program will be back up and running next year.
"Women's participation in sports, in general, is down this year so we need to go out to the high schools, let people know that PGCC has women's sports, and let them know that they can play athletics, do well in academics, and work. They don't have to choose between one or the other and we will help them along the way."- José Umaña, Owl Newspaper
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