Baseball and Softball Programs to Return to Campus Sports Lineup
For the first time in two decades, Penn State DuBois students will have the opportunity to participate in America's pastime as an official campus activity. Chancellor Melanie Hatch has announced that both baseball and softball programs will be resurrected, and the first Penn State DuBois teams will take to the diamond in the Spring of 2016.
Both sports had been offered on campus in years past, but both programs had been disbanded by 1991 due to budgetary reasons. Hatch said the decision to bring the programs back was based on another way of viewing the connection between academics and athletics.
"We feel that by adding these programs to our athletic lineup, we are also giving students more opportunities to succeed," Hatch said. "Studies have shown that students who are involved in sports programs achieve better grades, and are more likely to stay in school and complete their education. Sports schedules provide added structure for athletes, helping them to stay focused on what is important. Additionally, the discipline it takes to stay competitive on the field is carried over to the classroom, where student athletes pursue their studies with more enthusiasm."
According to a six year study concluded in 2011 at Indiana State University, the overall growth, learning, and development of student-athletes is, on average, twice that of non-athlete students.
In addition to the academic advantages, students also receive a more fulfilling experience from participation in a variety of extracurricular activities. Campus athletic coordinator Ken Nellis said, "We’re very excited to offer these programs to our students. It gives students another option to participate in extracurricular activities, and will be an opportunity for many of these athletes to continue playing a sport they’re passionate about. Many athletes have to end their career after high school because their college or university doesn’t have a program for their sport. Now, baseball and softball players from our area high schools will have the chance to keep their athletic career going, and take it to a higher level here at Penn State DuBois."
Thanks to community partnerships with the City of DuBois and The DuBois Area School District, the Penn State DuBois teams will use Showers Field, the city park softball field, and Highland Street Softball field for games and practice.
DuBois City Manager Herm Suplizio said the shared use of the community fields illustrates a fitting collaboration that will provide the best opportunities for students. He said, "I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am that Penn State DuBois is adding baseball and softball to the campus. Young men and women that want to continue playing a sport that they love can still do so and further their education right here in their hometown. In addition, young adults from outside the town who like Penn State, the DuBois campus and the DuBois area can come live, study and work here for the duration of their college time. Everyone benefits, especially the students."
Superintendent of the DuBois Area School District Mark Heckman was equally enthusiastic. "This is a great day for DuBois and an awesome opportunity for the students of the DuBois Area School District," Heckman said. "Having college-level athletic opportunities for our students allows them to continue their athletic career while completing a world class education at Penn State DuBois. This collaboration between Penn State and the DuBois Area School District will only benefit through this great partnership. It’s truly a win-win scenario for the district, the university and the DuBois community."
Extensive work must be done to prepare for the re-launch of these programs before the opening season in 2016. Campus staff has begun the process of equipment purchases, and will recruit coaching staff in the near future.
Community centered programs, such as summer clinics for middle school and high school aged baseball and softball players are planned as well.