Started from the bottom: how King's Athletics grew
LOWER MANHATTAN—Four years after its founding, The King’s College Athletics program has charted unforeseen growth and continues to progress with each passing academic year. After Athletics Director Sean Horan joined the College faculty in 2009, he rebuilt the program from scratch and led the charge into unknown territory. That same year Horan rallied King's first men’s soccer and basketball club teams. However, since re-launching the teams, there has been great improvement in the entire program that is evident in the growth of individual teams. In the fall of 2014, two more sports—cross-country and golf—will be officially recognized as varsity sports.
Currently, there are eight varsity sports - four for men and four for women. Student initiative is the key to launching new sports in the athletics program. Several varsity sports (baseball, cross-country and golf) were started through students Grant Olson, Brandon Santulli and Sean Spurlock, respectively.
The college is also a part of the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference includes colleges such as Pratt Institute, Sarah Lawrence College and St. Joseph’s College.
Like any collegiate athletics program, the department is faced with the challenge of working around student schedules and commitments while simultaneously coordinating practice and game venues and transportation, which, in Manhattan, can strain the athletics budget.
The Athletics Department is constantly working for as seamless a season as possible, without requiring unreasonable time commitments from students and coaches. Road trips are kept to a two-hour maximum travel radius, and most teams travel together to sporting events. Back in October, the men and women’s soccer teams and the women’s volleyball team traveled together to compete against Valley Forge Christian College in their respective sports.
In an attempt to make the best out of limited options, the unique opportunity that teams have to travel with each other would not be found within a conventional athletics program. Yet Horan believes this is a beneficial byproduct of the program’s situation.
Before the school year started, fall sport athletes moved in several weeks earlier for preseason training and to acclimate themselves to their teams. Horan also cites that the “camaraderie between players” as a large contribution to the overall success of the teams.
In the future, the department would like to provide the opportunity for individual teams to attend intercollegiate tournaments. This would grant teams a taste of the traditional college athletics experience and promote solidarity within the program and individual teams.
Despite the time commitment required of student athletes, many are able to succeed and are added to the United States College Athletic Association All-Academic team. This honor requires students to maintain a cumulative 3.5 GPA or above while competing.
But the commitment required of a student athlete is not for everyone. Retention within the athletics program has been a consistent struggle. Horan notes that teams have often barely made the cut for the minimum amount of players required for a game. Horan cites maintaining the current team retention and recruiting athletes who fit with the King’s mission as one of the athletic department’s main goals.
Efforts to build a competitive program that still fits into the King’s mission and culture is difficult, but the strides made over the last four years cannot go unnoticed. These advances have not manifested themselves in a championship yet, but the talent and commitment of student athletes grows immensely with each passing year.
For Horan, “seeing the success on the field from where we’ve come from to where we are” is just as rewarding.
To learn more about King’s Athletics program, visit tkc.edu/athletics. You can also like them on Facebook at The King’s College Athletics (NYC) or follow them on Twitter at @TKCAthletics.