I can remember back in the fall of 1983 when I entered college fresh off celebrating a 17th birthday.
I took the road trip from Augusta to a small town just north of Madison County to begin college. Emmanuel College, a 150-acre campus nestled between Athens and Hartwell, would become my new home for two years. At that time back in 1983, Emmanuel housed somewhere between 500-600 students and served only as a junior college with limited sports. Now, as things have changed with time, what was then a small “everyone knows everyone” campus has quickly grown at a fast pace. Time has changed the surroundings of this small campus from a two-year college to a four-year institution of now some 900-plus students.
Gone are some of the rules that once had us as students laughing such as the no wearing shorts rule except in the gym, tennis courts or (at the time) one ball field. Gone are the curfews of 10 p.m. and 11 on weekends. And as for us students who were committed to following the handful of sports teams at Emmanuel, time has introduced to the student body of today a new world of athletics at the school.
Collegiate baseball was introduced not long back as well as girls’ fast-pitch softball. More sports facilities have been added to the campus. Now a renovated baseball field has been constructed from an old intramural field, which once hosted our co-ed softball and flag football games. This same field is where I left some skin several times from sliding into bases while playing intramural softball. So I guess you could say a part of me is still there. A student activity center has also been built a few years back, which includes a swimming pool.
Now, entering this fall at this college that sits just a stone’s throw from the home of Ty Cobb, Emmanuel has added many more sports teams to their athletic programs. Beginning this fall Emmanuel will add women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and track, and golf. Planned for the year 2012 and 2013 Emmanuel will also add men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s table tennis for collegiate play in the NAIA Southern States Athletic Conference of the NCCAA.
These new sports teams will add to a list of current collegiate athletics such as basketball, tennis, and men’s and women’s soccer. Women’s volleyball will be the first new sport at Emmanuel that will begin play Aug. 26 at the local recreation gym in Franklin County. Plans are under way to build a new sports complex on a new extended part of campus that will host all of the sporting events for the college.
Coaches have been hired for the 2011-12 teams. Mindy Crawford, a former assistant coach at Warner University and former player of Lincoln Christian University, will lead the Lady Lions’ first volleyball team. Crawford also comes with a resume that included the position of marketing and event coordinator for the Orlando Magic of the NBA. The Emmanuel cross country and track men’s and women’s teams will be led by Jose Larios. Larios’ resume includes his former position of head coach of track and field at Warner University in Lake Wales Florida. The Lions’ men’s and women’s golf teams will be coached by Howard Eaton, who according to the Emmanuel College website, is a golfer himself. Eaton competes in GSGA events and is a member of the Amateur Tour of Georgia and the Golf Channel Tour of Georgia, according to the school’s website www.goeclions.com.
Back in the mid 80s, when my fellow students and I had just a couple of sporting events to yell at, women’s basketball was the hot ticket on campus. The basketball Lady Lions ruled the conference year after year. Led by Coach Mike Bona, a legend in the minds of us former hardcore fans of the 80s, the Lady Lions were unstoppable on the hardwood. Bona still holds the title of head women’s basketball coach as well as athletic director. Now as times have changed, it’s the men’s basketball team that’s king of the campus led by former Oconee County standout TJ Rosene. The Rosene led Lions basketball team of 2009-10 won the national championship, the school’s first national title in any sport. I can only imagine what that would have meant to those of us nuts of the mid 80s; those of us who stomped so hard and loud that we cracked two old wooden bleachers.
Now, as times have changed, so has this college’s sports world at Emmanuel College. As a former student and Emmanuel Lion supporter, I can’t wait to see these new teams take it to their opponents. And who knows, maybe one day my daughter will be on the volleyball court as a Lady Lion; my fingers are crossed and my face paint is ready!
For more information on Emmanuel College, visit their websites www. ec.edu and www.goeclions.com.
Dallas Bordon is the former sports editor for The Danielsville Monitor/Comer News.