Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ferrum Athletics-
A Very Bright Future

As the Super Bowl is now in the books, many people may think that football is officially over. While this may be true between the sidelines, college football is a year around effort on the part of coaching staffs around the country.
In Division III football, recruiting is just as important to the success of the program as it is at University of Michigan, or University of Alabama, but in many respects, it is a far more difficult task.
Division I schools will attract the top high school talent. They have scholarships to offer, and this is an effective tool to build a successful program. With success comes name recognition of the school, and this attracts better recruits. Its a snowball effect, and if managed properly, the successful programs will remain successful.
FCS Schools, and DII schools, also offer scholarships, but in fewer quantities.
Division III schools do not offer scholarships, and will typically attract players that play for the love of the game. They will not have been on the radar of many , if any of the DI schools, but their talents will usually be well known to D III coaches.
The USA South has eight schools that compete in football. Of those eight, 3 are in Virginia. The Old Dominion Athletic Conference will also have eight teams in the upcoming season, and of those, 6 will be from Virginia. These numbers illustrate the competition for regional talent.
What separates these schools as far as successful recruiting goes is the success of their athletic programs, their academic offerings, campus beauty and amenities, and of course their tuition. I am sure there are other factors, but I think these play a major role.
Ferrum is making great strides in many areas. The campus is beautiful, and the upgrades that have been undertaken over the last several years make Ferrum a state of the art facility. The College continues to develop its academic offerings, working to provide excellence in the classroom while maintaining the small class size that will lead to more individual attention for the student.
Tuition is a limiting factor when it comes to competing with other schools in the recruiting arena. State schools will, for obvious reasons, charge far less tuition, and this works to the detriment of all of the private colleges who may be competing against public schools.
Christopher Newport University is the only State supported school in the USA South Conference, and the tuition savings that this provides makes it very difficult for other conference schools in the recruiting arena. CNU has enjoyed much athletic success, but the question is what can Ferrum do to become the school of choice  for those regional athletes that play for the love of the game?
Tuition and college affordability is a major consideration in the best of economic times, but in today's economy, Colleges have to work to make the college experience as rewarding and enriching as possible, while keeping costs within reach.
Soon, Ferrum will have a new Biomass Boiler in place and this should reduce the electric bill that the college pays. Ferrum's agriculture program has developed a working farm that produces many of the vegatables that the college cafeteria uses regularly. While these initiatives may not reduce tuition, it may well slow it's rise.
The college is on the right path, and as for success in their athletic programs, Ferrum is showing well rounded success in all of the major sports, and even in some of the newer athletic endeavors on the campus.
Football finished with a 7-3 record, and was playing for the conference championship. Men's Basketball is closing in on the end of their season, and has had a strong effort, staying in the top three in the conference standings for the majority of the season. Women's Basketball currently is in first place in the conference having run a gauntlet of top ranked conference opponents with recent wins over CNU, Greensboro, and Methodist. The Lady Panthers are in a strong position to capture the regular season title, and host the USA South tournament.
Baseball has gotten off to a good start as the Panthers are 2-1 early in the season.
Ferrum's newest sport, Women's swimming, competed in it's first season, and finished a respectable 2-6. On the surface, this may not look like a great record, but in three of their losses, they fell by 13 points or less. The season was capped off by Fresman Anneleisse Alvarez's performance in the Virginia Tech invitational. Click the link below for the recap of her performance.

Alvarez competes in the VT Invitational

Men's LaCrosse will soon embark on its second season after finishing a strong 6-8 in it's first season. I look for both of these new programs to continue to improve and to be a force in the seasons ahead. Winning, no matter what the sport, casts a school in a positive light. It brings attention to the school, and gives it name recognition that helps in recruiting efforts in all sports. Ferrum is making huge positive strides in their athletic endeavors, and I look for this trend to continue...Football is no exception.

Go Panthers!

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