Eastern Gateway plans sports teams


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Eastern Gateway Community College plans to launch intercollegiate athletics in fall 2017.

At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, President Jimmie Bruce said the college wants to join the National Junior College Athletic Association and the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference.

“It’s my belief that athletics will attract more students to our college and will enhance pride in the college, both on campus and within our community,” he said.

Bruce said a sports program will help to unite Eastern Gateway’s three campuses. The college is based in Steubenville and operates the Valley Center in downtown Youngstown and the Warren Center in that city. It also offers courses at career and technical centers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Sports programs provide the opportunity for students to continue athletics after high school and for others to cheer them on.

College sports enhances students’ college experience, Bruce said.

The Eastern Gateway Gators will begin with men’s baseball and women’s softball with hopes to add men’s and women’s basketball. It’s early in the planning so details haven’t been determined.

Bruce, with volunteers from both the Mahoning Valley and Steubenville communities, will conduct fundraisers to pay for the start up of the program. In Steubenville, the college has a strong alumni base, but as EGCC has been in the Valley for only a few years, organizers will seek contributions from businesses and organizations.

The goal is $100,000.

There are no plans to offer student scholarships.

Among the volunteers helping with fundraising is John Zizzo, a baseball trainer and consultant who was Youngstown State University’s head baseball coach from 1991 to 1998. Zizzo initially contacted Bruce last September about beginning an athletic program at the college.

Bruce said the college is looking at developing partnerships with Valley high schools and high schools in the Steubenville area, where EGCC Gators would play.

“We want Eastern Gateway to be a place students can come to get the true college experience,” Bruce said.

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