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Pirate athletes re-unite after summer break
The coaches and athletes from Porterville College came together Friday to show that they’re all one team at an orientation and barbeque, put on by student council members.
Around 100 people showed up, women’s basketball coach Dave Kavern estimated.
The baseball, softball, volleyball and girls’ and boys’ basketball teams all came to the campus around noon to feast and socialize after their welcoming orientation.
The student council members and the coaches teamed up to bring food, barbeque and prepare a spread for two long tables. The coaches, athletes and Associated Students of Porterville College filled their plates and chatted.
In the last eight years he has coached, “everyone has sort of been in their own circle,” Kavern said.
The difference: PC this year named its new full-time Athletic Director. Eric Mendoza is filling in for last year’s part-time director, Carroll Land, who is now an adjunt coach.
Mendoza is also heading the student council as the Activities Director.
“The ASPC wanted to host a ‘Welcome back’ barbeque to show their support. This is just going to show what is going to happen in the future. This gives them the chance to meet people, interact and enjoy the camaraderie,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza is receiving rave reviews in his first year from PC’s coaches.
“The support [Mendoza has] given us, with ASPC, definitely promotes school spirit. That’s something that’s been lost on this campus and it’s definitely exciting to have it back,” said baseball coach Del Marine.
Softball coach Vickie Dugan shared his enthusiasm.
“You can tell the influence that a full-time Athletic Director can have. The athletes are starting to get some recognition.
A lot of colleges have a letter program. We didn’t even have that.
“Now, they’re doing things like this, and this is showing appreciation for all the hard work that [the athletes] do,” she said.
This will also be the first year for PC’s Student Athletic Advisory Council: three players from each sport’s team, who will be elected to leadership positions and will meet every two weeks.
The council is modeled after what universities do, Mendoza said. Universities are required by the NCAA, to have a student athlete council on campus.
“The whole focus of that,” Marine said, “is to have all the sports teams support other sports teams.
“That way, when the volleyball team has a match, the basketball, softball and baseball players can be there to cheer them on, he said. And vice versa.”
PC sophomore Kasey Nichols said she looks forward to playing this year -with Mendoza as the new director.
“I think this is a big improvement from last year. [Before], it seemed that no one really cared to get everyone involved. No one was pushing us. [The athletics department] wasn’t as involved as what Eric is pushing us to be. Now, everyone’s a team. Everyone unites. The whole athletics [department] is a team.”