Seller's market

Published 2:09 am Monday, June 19, 2006

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Recruiting in college athletics might as well be called sales. Athletes try to sell their skills to the school of their choice. Coaches try to sell their program and school to get the athlete.
What ultimately sells a school to an athlete depends on the individual, but there are some common factors.
JDCC baseball coach Darrell Blevins said junior college athletics offer incoming freshmen a much better chance to play right away than four-year programs.
JDCC volleyball and softball coach Misti Nims said the school's dormitories has been a good facility selling point to her athletes.
JDCC's gymnasium is the oldest active junior college gym in the state. Gainer admits sometimes that can be a stumbling block with prospective players.
While heat is usually not a factor during the winter months of basketball season, the JDCC gym can be a sweltering place during volleyball season when temperatures are still high. While the JDCC has portable fans, it has no air conditioning.
Nims thinks the JDCC softball field is an attractive one.
Both the JDCC softball and baseball fields had new scoreboards installed after Hurricane Ivan destroyed the previous boards. Blevins said he has made some upgrades since he arrived last summer and plans more in the future.
A school can do nothing about its location, but that can also be a selling point.
While Brewton may not be located at a beach, Nims said it is close enough it can be a selling point.
Blevins said JDCC's location has other advantages besides a beach located an hour away.
A program's success is also a selling point. JDCC's baseball program has enjoyed the most success in recent years with a 1998 NJCAA Division II national championship and a 2005 ACCC south division title.
While basketball has struggled some in recent years, Gainer said the program has been successful in other areas.
Winning seasons have also eluded the softball and volleyball programs in recent years, but both have had some successful moments. The 2004 volleyball team qualified for the state tournament. The 2005 JDCC softball team beat Wabash Valley (Ill.), which finished fourth in the country and lost out through a tiebreaker for the south division's final playoff berth. This past season the Lady Warhawks also finished one position back of a state berth.
The quality of competition an athlete will face is another item that may steer an athlete in a particular direction.
Blevins said the ACCC, of which JDCC is a member, has produced several outstanding programs in recent years.
Gainer said the ACCC usually sends its best basketball players to Division I conferences.
Nims has also seen plenty of ACCC players advance to the next level.
Coaching stability is another factor athletes consider.
That is one plus the JDCC sports programs have. Gainer just completed his eighth season as the Warhawks basketball coach. Nims has run the softball team six years and the volleyball program four seasons. This past spring was the first season at JDCC for Blevins, who had spent the previous three years as an assistant coach at Faulkner state. The JDCC job is the first head coaching job for Blevins.