Gadsden State Community College hasn't had a baseball team since 2011 or a softball team since 2016. Both programs were successful while they existed — and there's talk they may exist again.
The college in a news release on Wednesday announced a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Beck Conference Center on the Wallace Drive Campus to discuss reinstating baseball and softball.
“At the meeting, we will talk about our vision,” athletics director Mike Cancilla said. “We need input from the public to help us project community support. What does the community want from our athletic program?”
That program in the past featured men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf and tennis in addition to baseball and softball. GSCC currently competes in men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball, and will bring back cross country this fall.
“A lot of people were disappointed when our baseball and softball teams ended,” Cancilla said. “This is a baseball community. This is a softball community. When we had teams, many local people came out and supported us.”
One motivation for reinstating the programs, he said in the release, would be to generate additional scholarship opportunities for student-athletes and to create more interest in, and draw attention to, Gadsden State.
“Student-athletes are interested in the colleges where there are opportunities to continue playing their sport of choice,” Cancilla said. “We have a lot of outstanding baseball and softball players in our area who would be great additions to our athletic program and to our college.”
Much work and a financial investment would be required, however.
A joint project between the City of Gadsden and GSCC on developing a sports complex on college property includes softball fields. However, the school's baseball field would need renovation after a decade of disuse, and equipment would have to be purchased for both sports.
“There is certainly a financial challenge that comes with starting new athletic programs, but an investment in our college and in our students is also a win for our community,” Cancilla said. “We just need to know if our community is willing to support us in this endeavor.”
Dr. Kathy Murphy, GSCC's president, said the college is identifying ways to keep students in the community following high school, including providing a quality education and an opportunity to continue participating in sports.
“We are reinstating cross county in the fall, and we are hopeful to reinstate baseball and softball possibly as early as the spring of 2023,” she said. “We are a community college seeking ways to serve our community through education and athletics.”
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden State Community College may bring back baseball, softball