STERLING, CO—Northeastern Junior College (NJC) has announced that it will be adding two additional varsity sports beginning Fall 2016. Women’s soccer and men’s wrestling will become part of an already thriving athletic program. The addition of these two sports will help attract new students and put the college in sync with other schools in Region IX of the National Junior College Athletic Association who already have, or are adding, these same sports this year.
Northeastern currently has teams in men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, men’s baseball, women’s softball, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s golf. In addition the college has very competitive rodeo and livestock judging teams.
According to Jay Lee, president of the college, adding these new sports will be good for Northeastern. “We’ve had a number of students asking if and when we would be adding women’s soccer and men’s wrestling, so there is a good interest,” he said. “When we began men’s soccer the fall of 2011, we knew it would be just a matter of time before we would be expanding the women’s athletic offerings to also include soccer. Several schools in our region have added men’s wrestling and already have had women’s soccer in place and we want to allow our students the same opportunities here.”
Lee said that Northeastern can anticipate attracting an additional 50 students this fall by recruiting for, and offering some scholarships to, students who excel in these two new sports. Students will be competing against teams from other colleges located in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has numerous division levels. Northeastern’s athletic programs compete in Division I.
“As the largest residential two-year college in Colorado also offering competitive athletics, we have the largest number of dorm rooms to fill,” explains Lee, “adding sports is one way to help keep our beds full and, in turn, help keep us economically viable.” Wrestling and soccer are both sports requiring only a minimal amount of initial equipment to run.
Lee said that the college is currently advertising for head coaches for both of these new sports. The college’s recruitment team will be getting the word out far and wide that these two new sports are being added for this fall.
While this is the first time that women’s soccer has been offered at Northeastern as a varsity sport, this will not be the college’s first experience with wrestling. The college had a thriving wrestling program in the 1960s. NJC was the NJCAA national champion in wresting in 1964 and then won back to back national champion ships in 1966 and 1967. As a matter of fact, wrestling is the only sport for which NJC has earned national championships. Years earlier, NJC wrestlers won the first-ever Empire Conference Championship in 1954-56. Back when NJC was so competitive in wrestling, it was competing against what is now Colorado State University, Denver University, University of Northern Colorado, Mesa State, Fort Lewis, Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and colleges in Lamar, Trinidad, Otero, Casper and beyond.
Wrestling at Northeastern went by the wayside in the 1980s when Title IX legislation affected a number of these programs across the nation. At one time, there were less than 50 collegiate wrestling teams in the NCAA. Collegiate wrestling programs at two year colleges are gaining popularity once again.
Northeastern is currently seeking interested applicants for the position of head coach in men’s wrestling and women’s soccer. Anyone interested in these positions should contact NJC Athletic Director Marci Henry at (970) 521-6617.
Students interested in being on either of these teams should contact Adam Kunkel, Director of Admissions and Recruitment at (970) 521-6952 and fill out a recruiting questionnaire on the gonjc.com website for either wrestling or women's soccer.