Northwest Tech is excited to announce the launch of a varsity women's softball program for the upcoming academic year. The program, which will officially begin in August 2017, will have roughly 25-30 women on the team. The team will compete as a Division I program within the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The addition of softball will provide more female student-athletes to help rebalance gender in the overall athletic program, spur additional enrollment, and provide another great program for the community to rally around. The college has interviewed and selected a head coach and will be announcing the hire in the coming days.
"We are thrilled to bring softball to an already solid athletic department," said Ben Schears, Northwest Tech's president. "Adding a program with strong regional support and a pipeline of players lets us grow the college and bring more female students to campus – a population that is largely underrepresented here."
Northwest Tech is truly a maverick in the higher education landscape in Kansas. It is the only public technical college in the state to offer athletics in addition to campus housing and student activities. The college began offering athletic programs in 2009 as a complement to the 16 quality academic programs the college offers its students. The addition of softball will bring the number of athletic programs to 11 varsity, and 1 junior varsity program. Northwest Tech is a member college of the NJCAA and competes with colleges from around the region.
The college is in the process of designing a softball field and facilities on campus to house the program. The field is currently slated to be constructed southwest of Lutters Soccer field; a location which will allow for shared use of concessions, public restrooms, and lighting between the two fields. "The placement of the facility near campus is important since many of our student-athletes, as well as our student body, don't have cars to travel to other locations in town," said Schears. "Having the field close to campus allows our kids to attend games, leverage our athletic training facilities in case of injury, and bring community members onto our campus."
With declining state funding and no local mill levy support; Northwest Tech has been forced to be creative in recent years to ensure the college remains both relevant and sustainable. This has included adding and renovating academic programs, improving facilities, building new partnerships and expanding athletics – all of which improve the campus and make it more attractive to prospective students. "What you have seen over the years at the college, and what you'll continue to see in the future, is the "get it done and do it right" attitude so prevalent in Northwest Kansas," said Schears. "It's never easy, but we will do what needs to be done to be sure NT continues to be one of the top performing colleges in the state of Kansas."