Photo courtesy of thecorsaironline.com
SPENDING SOME TIME AT MY COMMUNITY COLLEGE ALMA MATER
One area of sports that is hardly ever covered in the mainstream media is football at the community, or junior, college level.
While different publications in Southern California like the Daily News in the San Fernando Valley, the Daily Breeze in the South Bay, or the Inland Empire’s Press Enterprise may give recaps of their local juco (junior college) teams, the Los Angeles Times only sporadically lists their local rankings in small print.
Since a goal of this site is to give attention to different parts of the SoCal sports scene that wouldn’t normally be covered, I thought it would be a good idea to attend a junior college football game and write about the atmosphere there.
As I am an alum of Santa Monica College, a well-respected institution known for sending more student transfers to four-year schools like UCLA, USC and many of the Cal State universities than any community college in the state, where I attended in the mid-1980s (graduating with honors) and was able to transfer to UCLA in 1988,
When I found out about SMC’s homecoming football game, it was a no-brainer to go back to the school located a half-block from where I used to live and to check things out.
SMC’s Corsairs (in blue) in action last Saturday against Bakersfield College’s Renegades. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com
So as much as it was the case two weeks before when I attended my high school’s homecoming festivities, I returned to SMC’s Corsair Stadium this past Saturday to watch the Corsairs in action and to attend the preceding fan fest that the school was giving.
The fan fest was a significant part of the homecoming festivities, and I generally had a good time as there were booths manned by different clubs and organizations and an area where folks can sit, relax and eat the nachos, churros, and mini-sandwiches that were available for free along with the various knickknacks such as the mini footballs, key chains, noise makers, caps, and – in the spirit of Halloween – fun size candies.
The game was likewise free, which was a very nice touch.
And what I’m sure was a factor in the decent sized crowd that attended the contest, which is usually not the case as junior college football is considered the minor leagues of college football, the athletes participating at that level there for three prevailing reasons:
- Their high school grades and test scores were not good enough for a Division 1 school to recruit them.
- Their athletic ability was not considered up to snuff by D1 standards, preventing them from being offered scholarships, and…
- They earned a scholarship to a D1 school, but it didn’t work out; Utah quarterback Troy Williams is a prime example of this as after things didn’t work out for him at Washington, he went to SMC and excelled for the Corsairs before moving on to Salt Lake City, where he’s having a great season for the Utes.
SMC’s Cheer Squad, or “Cheer Club”, providing entertainment at Saturday’s game. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com
The people who ran the homecoming festivities put on a great show as it was evident that everyone involved worked hard to ensure a good time. They were all very friendly and easy to talk to.
Of course I should mention SMC’s cheerleading squad, or “Cheer Club”; they did a good job getting the crowd pumped up and their routines were enjoyable.
Halftime was quite entertaining as the main reason why I had fun at my high school’s homecoming game – Santa Monica High School’s marching band, with their outstanding sound – performed, once again leaving me with a feeling of pride over the fact that I was once a part of that group back in the prehistoric early 80s.
It was unfortunate that the football team itself was disappointing, giving a good effort only to lose to Bakersfield College, 26-14.
Some of the booths at SMC’s pregame fan fest, which were a big part of the homecoming festivities. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com
A cool highlight of the second half for me was when Queen’s iconic anthem “We Will Rock You” was played over the loudspeaker – a song played at countless sporting events for years, the crowd was fired up when they heard it.
As the game wound down, I remember thinking that the atmosphere at community college football games is more like a high school’s than a four-year college’s, but that’s OK as community college sports provide a good opportunity for athletes who for whatever reason were unable to attend and play at a four-year school.
Most importantly, it provides a good opportunity to get started on one’s collegiate education and post high-school aspirations, which was certainly the case for me as if it were not for Santa Monica College, I would have never been able to get accepted into UCLA, would not have earned my bachelor’s degree from there, and would not be a longtime member of Bruin Nation today.
And for that, I will always be eternally grateful to SMC.
Which along with wanting to cover junior college sports was a prevalent reason why I went to the Corsair’s Homecoming as I wanted to show my appreciation to SMC for what they did for me.
Indeed, it’s my hope that they make it an annual event.
Corsair Stadium at Santa Monica College, where I attended from 1985-88 and where the recent Homecoming festivities were held. Photo courtesy of stadiumsusa.com