N.J. - While the best news would have been another national title
for our very own Vikings men's soccer team, another story unfolded
during the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
Division I Soccer Championship, hosted by the college Nov. 18-22.
Approximately 300 players and supporters from eight teams from across
the nation traveled to Mercer County. They stayed at two local hotels
and ate at local restaurants.
"We enjoyed our guests," said Athletics Director John
Simone. "They were a friendly, spirited group of people who
love soccer and were very appreciative of our hospitality."
He notes there
was a larger than expected crowd, despite Mercer not participating
in the tournament. "We had many coaches from four-year colleges
scouting at the games, as well as local soccer fans," he said.
The 500 tournament programs initially printed were all were gone
by 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the start of the very first tournament
game. More were quickly provided by the MCCC Print Shop.
Staff joined in the effort in all kinds of ways, according to Athletic
Trainer Lisa Camillone. "Everyone put on their Sunday best,"
she said. "Facilities and security staff couldn't have been
more supportive. They were everywhere, excellent, and friendly."
Camillone reports that staff from around the college volunteered
their time to man the ticket and t-shirt booths.
Volunteers included Liz Bondurant, Kristin Callahan, Bruce Chorba,
Eileen Curristine, Martha Czop, Hector Dimas, Tim Fitzpatrick, Jackie
Franz, Michael Glass, Raquel Hernandez, Amy Immordino, Laurene Jones,
Al Leister, Peggy Livingston and Nancy Sobala. Jim Franklin and
Peter Horne served as hosts for visiting teams, along with five
other community members, who advised visitors on navigating the
Students also played an important role. Five soccer players kept
game statistics, while members of the baseball team served as ball
runners on the sidelines. Radio student Matt Nelson announced the
quarterfinal game for Barton Community College that was streamed
live to Kansas via the Internet, while Television students taped
the semifinal and championship games for the MCCC cable network.
The news from the tournament flowed flawlessly, thanks to volunteer
sports writer Craig Haley, who posted game recaps within minutes
of each game's finish, and Mike Dill, who posted professional quality
photos of the action. Web designer Tim Fitzpatrick created a new
design for the Athletics website prior to the tournament, giving
the site a polished, professional look.
The event was also a long overdue opportunity to honor the 1963
men's soccer team, the first ever to win a national title for Mercer.
Two team members have passed away and two went unfound, but 12 came
from different parts of the country to participate in a halftime
ceremony on Nov. 19 with their coach Stan Dlugosz, who beamed like
a proud father. Their accomplishments from that very special season
were recounted as team members were presented with a plaque that
will hang in the PE Building. Co-captains Jim Dill, an All-American
forward, and Ron Hoch, sweeper, recalled the title win as a highlight
of their lives. Both men earned soccer scholarships to play at the
University of Maryland and have now retired from long careers in
Simone reports that the Conference Center laid out a beautiful buffet
for the group banquet, held on Nov. 18. "There were about 150
attendees and the Conference Center staff handled it all really
well," he said. "Coaches told me it was the best ever."
As part of the banquet, the NJCAA inducted former players and coaches
into its Hall of Fame. Two MCCC players, Stern John and Kante Daoude,
were among the honorees.