South Puget Sound Community College has traded its softball program for volleyball.
Nick Schmidt’s first official day as the community college’s director of athletics was less than a month ago, but out of the gate he ended the softball program while introducing the department’s first volleyball team.
Its inaugural season will begin in the fall of 2016.
Schmidt, who graduated from Capital High School in 2002 and Western Washington University after that, said Thurston County’s successful high school and club volleyball programs made adding a volleyball team to the college a natural fit.
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“I coached basketball at Tumwater for four years and I was the head golf coach this past year, so I saw firsthand the Tumwater volleyball program and Black Hills and Capital,” Schmidt said. “We have a lot of dominant volleyball programs.
“When I was hired, I was hired with the expectation that we not just settle for fielding teams, we field teams of quality athletes and quality talent with quality-character kids. Taking that all into account, that’s when the decision was made to redirect our efforts away from softball to volleyball.”
The softball team went 0-50 the past two seasons — its last wins coming in a 3-24 2013 season — and had to forfeit the remainder of the 2015 season after 14 games. It also needed a new coach to replace Shannon Stine.
“I had all of the intention of hiring a new softball coach,” Schmidt said. “But we ran into the realization that in order to hire a coach and put them in a position to be successful, that deadline was fast approaching if not here.”
Schmidt did not rule out an eventual return of the softball team — which he said had a record of 217-186 from 1998-2007 when it was coached by now-Olympia High School softball coach Matt Loes. But he said the school doesn’t have any long-term plans in place to make that happen.
SPSCC has yet to post the position for a head volleyball coach, but Schmidt said they plan to hire a coach by no later than Jan. 1.
The college will offer three sports this year — men’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s basketball.
“Our (softball) program had got to the point where we were basically starting a program,” Schmidt said. “We had one (letter of intent) signed. Students gave us the go-ahead to use the money allocated for softball to get our volleyball program started as far as getting the necessary equipment. That way, when we hire a coach in the fall, we can just hand them the keys and say, ‘here you go.’”