Change is on the horizon for Goshen College’s athletic department. In the 2018-19 academic school year, GC will grow its varsity sports number to 16 by reintroducing a golf program that originally began in 1962, as well as introduce intercollegiate men’s volleyball to campus.
According to a press release, the addition of men’s and women’s golf will mean Goshen will be competing in every sport the Crossroads League has to offer and that all 10 conference schools will participate in 15 conference sports. With the addition of men’s volleyball, GC will become the fifth four-year school and second NAIA’s men’s program in Indiana to sponsor intercollegiate men’s varsity volleyball.
Ken Newbold, provost and executive vice president, cited this decision as an opportunity to attract prospective students to Goshen to continue their athletic careers, while also contributing to the campus community.
“Students will be given the opportunity to participate in sports that have been an important part of their lives prior to enrolling at GC,” Newbold said. “These programs provide enriching aspects of the overall GC experience.”
Josh Gleason, athletic director, reiterated how these new sports are part of a much bigger strategic plan at the institution to grow enrollment.
“Increasing opportunities for potential students to continue participating in sports that they love, including golf and volleyball, is an instrumental part of us appealing to a greater market and ultimately increasing our enrollment,” Gleason said. “Beyond that, we are intentional about not just adding sports, but also about making them high quality experiences. We believe in the holistic development of student-athletes on and off the course/court and this is a great opportunity to provide life-oriented story grounded in the core values to a whole new set of prospective students.”
Goshen will also be expanding many of their current sports by increasing the roster sizes in baseball, softball, cross country, track and field, women’s volleyball and basketball. Women’s and men’s soccer are already in the process of creating junior varsity teams.
“Our administration does not take these decisions lightly,” Gleason said, “which is why we have been discussing and researching them for at least a year and a half. In the end, our administration fully supports the plan, which will result in a very significant positive financial impact on the institution’s budget from the start.”
Using data from sources like the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, GC has hopes for these programs to be successful.
According to Newbold, there is an increase in demand for men’s volleyball.
“Men’s volleyball is growing in popularity in high schools in our region,” he said, “and we believe we can attract student-athletes to GC as there are a limited number of institutions of higher education offering the sport in our region.”
There also seems to be a demand for golf.
“We firmly believe that golf can be successful here if done well,” Gleason said. “There is great demand for the sport with well over 200,000 high schoolers in the state of Indiana competing.”
Goshen College has not had a golf team since 2013-2014.
“Goshen College has a long history with the sport,” Gleason said, “and we look forward to reconnecting in many ways with alums who played or currently participate in golf in more meaningful ways.”
Newbold pointed out that it’s easier to start these programs because the startup cost is relatively low.
“Expensive equipment is not needed,” he said, “and we have facilities that can support the additional student-athletes participating in these sports.”
In order to provide the adequate space for all students including the additional student-athletes, the hours at the Recreation-Fitness Center will be shortened for community members as of June 1, 2017.
“The change for community members reflects a transition in the Rec-Fit Center’s mission and operational focus to provide a better experience for students,” Josh Kiester, the Rec-Fit Center director and associate athletic director, said. “It is a tangible way to support the institution’s mission by focusing the Rec-Fit Center on being a student based center.”