© 2024 KUAF
NPR Affiliate since 1985
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New sports on the horizon for Northwest Arkansas Community College

Northwest Arkansas Community College's athletics program is continuing to expand. During a press conference earlier this month, athletic director Brooke Brewer announced four new sports for the college, one of which students can participate in as soon as next spring.

“So we have men's and women's track and field starting in spring 2025,” Brewer said. “And that will be just running events for the first spring. And then in spring 2026, we will add field events to track and field. Then, in fall 2026, we'll have men's and women's soccer begin. And then, in spring 2028, we'll have baseball begin. And in spring 2029, the plan is for softball to begin.”

With the new sports, NWACC’s athletic offerings will now total six, as the community college already offers cross country and co-ed E-Sports. Brewer said that a five-year feasibility study assisted school officials in deciding which sports to include and when.

“So we pulled participation data at the high school level, for every sport,” she said. “So looking at how many schools sponsored the sport, and how many student-athletes are involved in the sport. And then we looked at that same information in the NJCAA.”

That’s the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“And then we looked at that at the NCAA as well. So the first step was really just like trying to identify participation trends because we kind of we see ourselves as the middleman. We want to be able to provide- we want to see a large amount of participation at the high school level. And we want to be able to provide that bridge for those students who eventually want to get at the NCAA level.”

The study focused on Arkansas and Oklahoma and their respective border states:

“Because we identified that, as you know, for the most part, that's gonna be our potential recruiting area,” Brewer said. “We also wanted to check and see how many NJCAA schools in that region had the sports we were looking at all the sports we were looking at, because we wanted to identify travel costs and what the roster of competition would look like.”

Brewer said they also investigated other basic data, such as the average cost per student-athlete, the number of coaches each sport might require, and the facilities NWACC will need to include on or off campus for practice and competition.

“So, right now, our cross country team has a cross country course on campus that they utilize, and we will be working on finalizing some agreements for off-site practice facilities for track and field,” she said. “And then we're working on finalizing our agreement for off-site game and practice facilities for soccer with a goal that, eventually, we would love to build a soccer field here on campus, surrounded by a track, so we would have an outdoor sports complex that our students would be able to utilize. So that would be for our athletes, but it would also feed into our Student Life offering.”

The potential soccer field and surrounding track would be a multi-use space that Brewer said all students could utilize for intramural sports, festivals and other activities.

“Students right now can check out equipment from our fitness center and go and play,” she said. “And so that would give them a space if they wanted to check out some footballs and go outside and play on the field for a little bit when it's not being used for practice or competition.”

Brewer is NWACC’s first athletic director and has only been on campus since August. She said creating the five-year plan for athletics was her most important task since hiring. As she worked on that plan, the questions were almost constant:

“I kept getting asked, well, what's gonna be the next sport? What are we gonna do? What are we going to do? And so to finally be able to answer that question has been really exciting,” Brewer said. “And I think the response when we did the press conference, so you know, we are announcing all of these sports. And one thing I said, as we were discussing internally, the press conference, and how we're going to announce them, you know, was this is going to be the moment that people realize, are isn't like just saying, we're going to do athletics, and we're going to announce a sport and move on with our lives. And that's going to be it. Or are we going to make this announcement with a very clear, thoughtful outline and plan so that people can see that there is an institutional commitment to athletics? And I feel like that's what we've done. And so there's been a lot of excitement around it, just in the sense of, ‘Wow, you guys are really doing it.’ And you're adding a lot in the next five years. And there's also a plan and a contingency plan in place past that to continue to expand. So, I think that the institution's commitment to athletics has become apparent. And that's what I'm most excited about.”

NWACC is not stopping with these sports, either. Brewer said that she’s been looking forward to the five years after 2026 as well, identifying potential sports that the college’s student-athletes could play in the future.

Stay Connected
Jack Travis is a reporter for <i>Ozarks at Large</i>.<br/>
Related Content