NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Women’s sports teams struggle with membership

Whether playing or watching, sports are a great way to come together over a common goal: to beat the opposing team.
Unfortunately, some of the sports at NECC have had trouble filling their rosters. Volleyball may not even be able to put a competitive team out there this year. Students’ schedules are full, their resources are limited, and for any number of reasons not every team can draw enough student athletes to the court.
At NECC, the women’s teams — which include softball, volleyball, basketball and track and field — have had trouble drawing interest.
“It’s kind of sad to see the potential talent walking all around the campus,” said Sue MacAvoy, the NECC athletic director. “If people are interested, they need to come by.”
Many students may think that joining a team is going to impact them academically. MacAvoy says this just isn’t true, pointing out that, often, teams come together to study as a group. They do this to build camaraderie and also for academic support.
The Athletic Department also works with the college to put on different workshops for student-athletes throughout the year, to help with time management and studying. MacAvoy also points out that she has all the lists of the various tutors on campus, and she is quick to point any student in the right direction the minute they feel they are having academic issues.
Transportation is another big issue among all college students, not just student athletes. Potential athletes may feel like they not be able to make it to every practice and/or game due to lack of transportation. MacAvoy says that the NECC shuttle service operates throughout both cities and travels to both campuses. It also runs into the evening, meaning athletes will still be able to get home from practice. The NECC shuttle is free for anyone with a valid NECC ID.
The main issue, according to MacAvoy, is that many athletes coming from Division 1 high school athletics in the area are burnt out. They don’t want to play sports anymore.
It’s common in highly competitive high school sports for student athletes to lose the drive to compete after graduating. MacAvoy goes on to detail how she’s spoken with many athletes who simply say they played too much between high school, AAU teams, and travel teams. The sports they played took up all their free time, and they just didn’t want to do it anymore.
There are many obstacles to building teams, but things are already beginning to turn around. The creation of the softball team shows that there are a growing number of women who want to compete, and after a one-year hiatus, the women’s basketball team appears on track to come out and compete right away. This doesn’t mean the battle is over by any means, but it’s a start. MacAvoy isn’t stopping anytime soon, constantly recruiting and spreading the word about college athletics.
When asked how she appeals to potential student-athletes, MacAvoy said, “Just like the classes are different from high school, and the school is different, so are the sports here at Northern Essex.”
The softball team plans to begin practice for their fall scrimmage season this week. The basketball team still has a tentative schedule for the time being. This doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t come try out, though. MacAvoy and all the coaches urge anyone interested in playing to contact the athletic office as soon as possible, or stop by practice any time. The Athletic Department is located in the Sport and Fitness Center on the Haverhill campus.

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