Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


May 21, 2013

New sports frontier for Jacksonville College could involve ropin’, ridin’ and (barrel) racing’

JACKSONVILLE — In the past year Jacksonville College has expanded its athletic program immensely by adding men's and women's tennis and men's and women's golf, which all successfully began play this school year, as well as soccer for both males and females — those teams are slated to take to the pitch for the first time in August.

Future expansion of the athletic menu at JC could include a sport that is often overlooked by many, but one that is tremendously popular in Texas, rodeo.

“I think rodeo is a sport that we could consider adding at some point,” Lynn Nabi, JC academic dean, said. “We are at somewhat of a standstill on what we can add now because of lack of student housing options.

“But with rodeo, students would actually be able to live off campus so that they could be near their animals to be able to care for them properly.”

Many two-year and four year colleges currently field rodeo teams that are governed by a central organization, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

Most schools compete in about 10 college rodeos annually, which are split up between the fall and spring semesters.

Other junior colleges in East Texas that field full rodeo teams at this time are Northeast Texas Community College (Mount Pleasant), Panola College in Carthage as well as Athens' Trinity Valley Community College.

Panola has 35 student athletes on its rodeo team roster, Northeast Texas numbers 31, while just over 20 are a part of the Trinity Valley delegation, so adding rodeo could be a significant shot in the arm for the school's fledging enrollment.

The more talented student athletes could have an opportunity to compete at the four-year college level at such schools as Texas A& M, Stephen F. Austin State University and at Sam Houston State University, just to name a few..

Should rodeo come into fruition at JC, Nabi said that improvements to the Jacksonville Rodeo Arena would first need to be made.

“I think that if we (JC) were to get into rodeo, the Jacksonville  Rodeo Arena would be the logical place for our team to practice and to possibly even to host an intercollegiate rodeo,” Nabi said. “I would to see some improvements to the facility first.”

City Manager Mo Rassi said that the city is always considering options to enhance things locally.

“I think that we could partner with the rodeo association to get their input on some of the improvements that could be done to the arena,” Rassi said. “I think that the city would certainly be willing to do its part.”

Charles Dickerson, who is the vice president of the Jacksonville Rodeo Association, said that he was glad to hear JC is contemplating the possibility of adding rodeo.

“I think rodeo is a super thing for them (JC) to be looking at,” he said. “We see every year where a lot of the cowboys and cowgirls that go on to compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos have come up through the ranks of college rodeo. With many of these folks having participated in college rodeo, it only makes them better in their sport when they decide to turn professional.”

Dickerson also offered up another reason why rodeo could be a good fit for JC.

“You know not everyone is a basketball or tennis player,” he said. “There are a lot of young people in this area that rope, ride (rough stock) or barrel race as their sport of choice and for them to have an opportunity to compete in their sport at the college level and get a good education at the same time would be wonderful.”



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