Recruitment underway to build new team starting Fall 2011
When budget cuts meant that softball had to be cut from the Northeastern Junior College athletic programming back in the spring of 2003, it was a sad moment for not only the college, but a number of players who had intentions of playing here with the 2003-2004 season. The college had watched golf and tennis go by the wayside a few years prior—a combination of funding shortfalls and finding suitable competitors without going clear across the nation to compete. A hap hazard run at starting a new club football program in the late 90s had ended up not going so well. Athletics were being trimmed to the bare minimum as the college hunkered down for tough economic times.
Well, the economic times are still tough, but with a little help from its friends, Northeastern is pleased to announce that it is bringing softball back as a varsity sport starting next fall. Men’s soccer is also going to debut at the same time. Women’s softball will have its first official season back, competing in National Junior College Athletic Association Region IX competition in the Spring of 2012.
“Softball has potential to bring in students and help build enrollment, much like baseball does. We have a new dorm coming up that we will need to fill,” notes Dr. Lance Bolton. “We’ve had many requests to bring this sport back and now we’ve been blessed with a gift that is going to help make it happen.” Bolton is referring to a softball scholarship fund which has been gifted to the college by Brett and Tina McEndaffer and their two daughters, Brit and Blair.
“It takes scholarship money to recruit players and the McEndaffers have generously stepped up to help make the return of a softball program possible,” Bolton notes. Brit and Blair were both exceptional softball players for Sterling High School and both would have loved to have played at NJC had the program not been cut when it was time for them to make the move on to college. The twins went to Western Nebraska Community College to play and then continued on at Chadron State College to finish out their collegiate playing careers.
Coaching the returning softball program will be Brock Baseggio, an NJC alumni who is currently the manager of the NJC Book Store. Like many of the NJC employees, he will wear multiple hats starting next fall as he runs the women’s softball program in addition to his current duties. Baseggio, a self-proclaimed lover of anything involving a small ball and a bat, is a graduate of Sterling High School. He played baseball at NJC for two years and had hoped to go on to a four year university to play, but shoulder and elbow surgeries brought his college playing career to a halt. He does still play some recreational men’s slow pitch softball locally.
Baseggio has coached some baseball in the past and feels very competent at his ability to coach softball. “It’s the same sport for the most part,” he notes, adding “next year Brit McEndaffer has agreed to come on board as my assistant and I know that she really knows the game so she will be a huge help.”
Baseggio, who worked for two year in the admissions office as a recruiter, is in a great spot to begin his recruitment for softball. “I was a road warrior for NJC for two years, out talking to students and counselors and coaches all over the state,” he says. “In many of the schools out there, the high school counselor might also be a coach of one or more sports, that’s just how it works. They wear multiple hats, too. I have made many contacts at schools all over Colorado and so I will be able to call back now and get connected with coaches and players.”
Baseggio says he plans to get 24 letters of intent signed going into the fall semester of 2011 and will probably end up with 12-15 players on an active roster.
What kind of players will he be recruiting? “ Well, NJC’s approach has always been that we look for student-athletes, not athlete-students,” he said. “I will follow that philosophy as I want players who want to excel in the classroom as well as on the field.” Baseggio said he is already working his high school contacts hard to make sure he is getting the word out that softball is returning to NJC. The college had the option of restarting the program as a club sport, but Baseggio decided not to do that, but to go right into varsity play instead. “I’ve been doing some scouting out and around at some of the high school games and we have some great players right here in this area. I will be working to recruit some of them and of course I know there will be interest from other players from other areas once they know we have brought the sport back.”
Anyone wanting more information about softball, or who would like to be on Baseggio’s recruitment radar screen, should call him at (970) 521-6623 or 1-800-626-4637.