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Hannah Pederson, Reporter
From football games to thousands of dollars in sports scholarships, athletics have long been a part of the college experience. Here at Pierce, it’s been since 1968.
In that year, Pierce only offered men’s basketball. Since then, the athletics department has grown to accommodate much more. They’ve offered two additional sports in the men’s division, baseball and soccer, as well as opened up the women’s division, which consists of basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball and a cheer squad.
Some of these sports have been more popular than others amongst student athletes, most likely due to visibility and popularity overall.
Most commonly, popularity among athletes is measured by the number of students trying out for a sport compared to the number of positions available. The amount of positions available can depend on how many student athletes graduated or left the team, leaving their positions open, and the number of positions total for the sport, keeping in mind that there are often times more players than positions on a team.
For basketball, there are five positions available on the court. For baseball and fastpitch softball, there are nine. In soccer there are 11 players, and volleyball has six.
Both soccer teams have seen a dramatic rise in participation throughout the years, growing alongside the increasing popularity of the sport in the United States.
According to nbcnews.com, since 1990, when the U.S. men’s national team qualified for the final round of the FIFA World Cup, popularity has increased dramatically, with almost 24.5 million people in the U.S. currently playing soccer at some level.
Pierce College Puyallup student Austin McKenzie started playing for the Raiders men’s soccer team in 2014, after a demanding round of tryouts, McKenzie said.
“They were very difficult,” McKenzie said. “At the time we had Micah Wenzel and Mark Lee as our coaches. They were very serious; very little mistakes could be made, and a lot of dedication had to be put in. There are 11 spots on the field and three to four guys were competing for every position.”
McKenzie said the same can be said for the women’s team, if not more. He attributes some of the popularity of the sport among student athletes at Pierce to the success of the U.S. women’s national team and the fans it has created.
Soccer isn’t the only sport that’s taken off in the 48 years that Pierce has had an athletics department.
Volleyball is relatively new, as far as the other sports offered at Pierce. It was first considered an official sport in the U.S. in 1957 and has grown to be among the sports offered at most high schools and colleges across the nation.
Pierce’s volleyball team has been promoted recently, due to the new management. As a result, it’s become a popular choice for student athletes and spectators alike.
The baseball and softball teams have maintained a steady popularity over the years with the sport, being labeled “the all-American game”.
According to espn.go.com, the 2014 Harris Poll placed major league basketball as the nation’s second favorite sport, which can be reflected in the steady stream of students trying out for the Raiders basketball teams.
Pierce wouldn’t be Pierce without the athletics department, and the athletics department wouldn’t be what it is without its athletes. [/responsivevoice]
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