Western Nevada Community College is setting its sights on playing baseball and women's soccer in the Scenic West conference, college officials said today. The college is making application to join the conference and compete beginning in the 2005-2006 school year.
"The Scenic West conference is the premier community college baseball conference in the country," said newly hired Western Wildcats baseball coach D.J. Whittemore. "For the past two seasons, the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) national champion has come from the Scenic West. Two years ago, Western Nevada's southern counterpart, CCSN (Community College of Southern Nevada), won the championship in just its third year of existence, and last year, Dixie State College (Utah) swept through the finals."
The college had sought membership in the Bay Valley conference of northern California. However, the California Commission on Athletics turned down WNCC's request, citing financial restrictions and concerns over travel through potentially wintry mountain weather to compete in western Nevada.
"I'm glad the Commission on Athletics made their decision in a timely fashion," said WNCC Vice President for Institutional Advancement Helaine Jesse. "That gives us the ability to pursue joining the Scenic West conference. The Scenic West has indicated that they want us to join them, so our next job is to work out the scholarships, travel issues, and playing schedule."
Community College of Southern Nevada Athletic Director/Baseball Coach Tim Chambers said he would anticipate acceptance of WNCC into the Scenic West conference and would welcome another Nevada college.
"It will be great for the state and a big benefit for junior college athletics in Nevada," he said. "I'm very excited."
Chambers said the CCSN athletics program has been successful in encouraging Nevada high school graduates to attend college in-state. "We have 38 students in baseball, and 30 of those are from Las Vegas," he said.
Whittemore said the fact that the Scenic West is a Division I conference would allow WNCC to offer athletic scholarships as well as afford students the opportunity to utilize the Millennium Scholarship and other types of financial assistance.
"The ability to offer scholarships and have players sign national letters of intent would benefit our program tremendously," he said.
Dan Neverett, dean of Student Services, said, "I anticipate that the addition of our baseball and women's soccer teams to the Scenic West conference will further enhance what is already a nationally recognized athletic conference. It's the perfect environment in which our teams could be challenged."
Whittemore plans to immediately begin recruiting potential baseball players for the spring 2006 season. Plans are also under way to hire a WNCC women's soccer coach.
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