By Linda Lockhart
Fall sport all-academic honors were announced for athletes in the Ohio Regional Campus Conference last week, with 44 students on Ohio University regional campuses receiving 47 awards. Three students earned honors in two sports.
The Chillicothe, Eastern, Lancaster and Zanesville campuses each field women's volleyball and basketball and men's basketball teams in the conference during fall, with about 100 Ohio University students participating. The all-academic designation requires a grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and a course load of at least 12 hours.
There are no scholarships or athletic offers to attract students to regional campus teams, just a passion to continue sports competition. Sports at the regional campus level "provide an outlet for students and are designed to be a positive part of the students' college experience," said Dennis Bothel, athletic director on the Chillicothe campus. The ORCC includes 12 regional campuses, including competitors from Miami, Ohio State and Akron, along with Ohio University.
Campus staffs say the programs are an important retention tool.
"Students who are more involved and engage in the campus tend to continue as students," said Jeff Whitehead, athletic and student activities director on the Lancaster campus.
Throughout the year, more than 250 students are on the rosters at Ohio University's regional campuses in volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball and golf. This year, Chillicothe will be adding both men's and women's tennis teams.
For some students, many who participated in high school sports, the opportunity provides assistance in adjusting to college life.
"Taking college courses can be a stressful experience at different times during the quarter," said basketball player Chris Young, a Chillicothe Hilltopper (each regional campus has its own sports mascot). "Having something I enjoy, such as basketball, to take my mind off of school work and give me a mental break is always valuable."
Chillicothe freshman Brittany Leeson, who also plays basketball, agrees.
"As a new student, playing basketball helped me adjust to college," Leeson said. "I am kind of a shy person, but through basketball I was able to meet a variety of people."
At the same time, a chance to participate in a team sport can be an added bonus for going to college for some students.
"Our players are our best recruiters, that word of mouth," Whitehead said, adding that education is the top priority. "We schedule practice and drills when we can. We want them to know that they don't have to attend every practice."
The Hilltoppers, Eastern Panthers, Lancaster Cougars and Zanesville Tracers spring sports are under way and all campuses anticipate continued success on the field and in the classroom and when ORCC announces spring honors.