NPC To Introduce Three New Sports
National Park College (NPC) introduced three new athletic programs for fall 2019,
including baseball, softball and cross country. The announcement was made Tuesday
at a rally in the Frederick Dierks Center.
Nighthawk Athletics will field a men’s baseball and women’s softball team next year. Both teams will be a part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Region 2. “Baseball and softball were an obvious choice,” said NPC Athletic Director and Dean of Enrollment, Jason Hudnell. “Hot Springs has such a rich baseball history and we have an abundance of local talent in our area for recruiting. We already have our eyes on a few folks.” Hudnell said NPC will host open tryouts in the coming months and he hopes to begin making signing announcements early next year.
The teams will practice and compete using the fields at Mountain Pine High School, a partnership Hudnell said is greatly appreciated. “The staff at Mountain Pine have been incredibly accommodating and we are proud to partner with them to kick off our first season of Nighthawk baseball and softball.”
Cross country teams for men and women will participate in NJCAA Division I, Region 2. Hudnell said cross country is also a good fit for NPC because it allows a significant number of students to participate, but is a cost efficient sport to provide. “Cross country is a high roster sport that will allow more student athletes in our area to compete on the collegiate level. Garland County has produced some impressive runners over the years and we are hopeful we can begin to recruit some of them as well as others across the state.”
The College plans to hire part-time coaches to lead the new teams. Fundraising efforts are underway to help offset the cost of travel, facilities and equipment needs for the programs. Garland County Community College alum Mike Dugan, a founder of the Historic Hot Springs Baseball Trail and historian for the Emmy winning documentary “The First Boys of Spring” expressed his excitement for the news. “The community as a whole embraces the athletic program as well as the college as a whole here at National Park,” said Dugan. "As a graduate and a former coach, I can't tell you how proud I am to be out here today," he noted.
Expanding extra-curricular opportunities for students is part of NPC’s broader enrollment and student success strategy. Students who are active and involved on campus are more likely to persist and graduate on time. “Athletics is one piece of the puzzle that is helping us provide a university experience that’s close to home at less than half the cost of four-year universities,” said Hudnell.
NPC President, Dr. John Hogan said, "We are excited to be part of this community revolution and it all stems from a passion to provide opportunities for students, to give them opportunities to excel inside the classroom and out, to stay in the county, to attract more energy and resources into the county, and you all are doing that."
Pictured is Jason Hudnell during the announcement at National Park College Tuesday afternoon.