The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

May 8, 2014

Shed tear for a loss few may realize

CLINTON -- Hearing that Clinton Community College is ending its sports programs is sad. It’s also sad that few will notice, and sadder still that even fewer will care.

“It’s one fewer opportunity the Clinton community will live without.

The administration finally threw in the towel, deciding the school couldn’t compete on the volleyball and basketball courts because it couldn’t compete off them.

“I’m assuming it was try to catch up or eliminate sports, and they took the easier way out,” said Bob Walker, a Clinton native who spent 25 years as CCC’s men’s basketball coach. Walker, a former all-state player at Clinton High who went on to play at CCC, took over as coach in 1981 and has seen both good and bad times since then.

As coach, he guided Clinton to three national tournaments, but the volleyball and basketball programs have struggled in recent years to fill their rosters, attract fans and win games.

“When I retired, the commissioner of the Iowa Community College Conference called and was worried that Clinton would drop sports,” Walker said. “I assured him it wouldn’t, but I could see the day when either it had to or step up.”

The days of battling on an uneven playing field have finally made Walker’s fears come true.

Sadly, it might have been different. But, while other junior colleges in Iowa were building athletic facilities and on-campus housing to attract students, Clinton Community College stuck with the original intent of the community college system in the 1960s to provide regional education alternatives for people in every part of the state.

While there was nothing wrong with that -- and perhaps the college even should be applauded for it -- CCC’s athletic teams were left behind as others in the state grew.

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