As I complete my first month as the Interim Athletics Director, I wanted to share some thoughts and impressions with you.
I have lived in Long Beach for 40 years and have been well aware of the Athletics program, its storied history and its future promise. The one common element of past and future greatness is people. We have a relatively new Superintendent/President in Dr. Reagan Romali, who along with the Board of Trustees and its Chairwoman Sunny Zia, have shown a dedication to developing an "alive" campus and curriculum that partners and serves our community, region and state. Included in that vision is a championship Athletics program, one that reflects and practices excellence in all it endeavors.
The coaches and staff in the Athletics Department are caring and committed to the students they serve and to the College. Some are full-time who are the core, critical mass and stabilizers for the day-to-day operations. Many more are part-time or volunteers who are here because they love the sport they coach and influencing young people at a critical stage in their lives. All are here because they are dedicated educators/coaches who want to be difference makers…and indeed they are.
Our student-athletes are so varied and diverse. They have the same goals and aspirations as those at four year institutions. They toil and labor at their academics and work and play at their sport. Some will go on and participate at their sport after LBCC, while most will have this experience as their last. Regardless, my commitment as well as those of everyone at the institution is to make this experience as good and memorable as it can be.
Although the one common element of all great colleges and Athletics programs is people, there are four other components that have become important over the years. Those are facilities, budgets, philanthropic giving and tradition. Athletics will be breaking ground this fall on a major project that will include a new aquatics center, kinesiology building, softball field, tennis courts, soccer/lacrosse fields and sand volleyball courts. These will not only afford better venues for practice, play and instruction for athletes and students, but will also serve as attractive pieces to hire staff and faculty, attract fans and supporters, and will entice future generations of Vikings to LBCC. Facilities are so important.
Also growing in stature is the need to fund raise and partner with businesses to augment what is budgeted for the program through District funds. We all want to maintain the success that LBCC has had over the years. It is the envy of every Junior and Community College in the state and across the country…multiple national titles, 93 state championships and too many conference championships to count. The throng of athletes who have made it to the professional ranks is well documented, as is the coaches who have gone on to gain national recognition. It is a legacy and tradition we can be proud to hold, but there are others on the horizon who want our position. For me, the question is whether we have the commitment and fortitude to maintain and grow our stature. Athletics is the most prominent factor in forming public perceptions about the quality of an institution.
The five factors of people, facilities, budgets, philanthropy and tradition are interactive, related and dependent. When all five are present, you have Athletic Utopia. LBCC can be that Utopia where students want to come and play while being educated; coaches, staff and administrators want to come and coach, teach and lead; and parents, fans and community constituencies want to come cheer and support. Athletics can be the soul and spirit of the institution for all to see. And LBCC can be the lighthouse guiding young people and generations through the transitional waters of life to higher educational oceans and professional harbors.
I have been honored to complete my first month as the Vikings Athletics Director. You have graciously welcomed me and I am grateful. I look forward to meeting you all in the future and please do not hesitate in introducing yourself. Together we can continue the Viking tradition of excellence and enhance the reputation of one of the greatest community colleges in the country.