El Camino’s athletic program boasts success with recruiting efforts
December 7, 2022
With one of the largest athletic departments of any two-year college in California, El Camino College is home to nearly 400 student-athletes competing in nearly two dozen sports.
The department’s success hinges on funding which, in part, comes from the Associated Students Organization (ASO).
For the 2022-2023 school year, the athletic department’s budget is $7.9 million, according to records obtained by The Union from the El Camino Community College District Athletic Department. The budget includes salary and benefits for faculty and classified employees, as well as supplies.
ASO provided $135,000 to the athletic department, according to ASO president Jana Abulaban. Abulaban added the ASO determines the allocation of funding for athletics, along with other on-campus programs.
A portion of El Camino’s athletic budget is used to pay officials for games and meets, along with athletic equipment, uniforms and staffing — all of which have increased in cost. Jeffrey Miera, the Director of Athletics at El Camino College discussed the increase in cost to maintain the athletic program.
“Entry fees have gone up because staffing is more expensive,” Miera said. “Officials’ fees go up periodically. All of the expenses that we have go up.”
For example, the budget allocates $120,000 for equipment and uniforms. The budget also funds various subdivisions within the overall athletic department, including men’s and women’s teams, the athletic division office, and the Health Sciences and Athletics Department.
El Camino’s roster numbers were compared to four other community colleges in the state: Bakersfield College, Pasadena City College, Riverside City College, and City College of San Francisco.
Compared to the other colleges, El Camino enrolls 393 student-athletes competing in 22 sports, including those competing in sports played during the 2022 spring semester. Similarly, at Riverside, the school has 19 sports with over 400 athletes. The school’s athletic budget is provided by the school’s district.
The Union made attempts to reach athletic directors from City College of San Francisco, Pasadena City College, and Bakersfield College but did not receive a response.
Payton Williams, Riverside’s athletic director, told The Union there have been changes within Riverside’s athletics program in the last 10 years, including the addition of women’s beach volleyball, and a stunt team that is derived from cheerleading.
Williams, who has been the athletic director since 2021, has made it a priority to ensure student-athlete success – especially in the classroom. The T.I.G.E.R.S. Program helps students navigate the rigors of academic life.
“We make sure if we see a need, we get it addressed, whether physical, academic, or emotional,” Williams said. Mentorship and guidance are provided through coaches, staff members, and counselors as well.
El Camino has produced many athletes who went on play at the four-year level, some professionally, and some who have gone back to El Camino as a coach. Liz Hazell, the current head coach for the women’s volleyball team is a former student of El Camino and played volleyball at the college.
“It’s tough being a student-athlete,” Hazell said. “It’s hard work. It’s really good for them learning time management and prioritization.”
Hazell played volleyball from 2000 to 2001. In 2001, she was part of the team that played in the state championship, but her team was defeated in the semifinals.
Additionally, she was named conference MVP and was an All-State selection. Hazell has been coaching at El Camino since 2005, starting as an assistant coach, then taking over the program as head coach in 2017.
As a coach, she preaches the importance of using academic resources to allow success in the classroom.
At El Camino, the Triple A program works in conjunction with the campus library to ensure student success by providing an area for students where they can take advantage of academic resources such as tutoring, as well as working on academic assignments.
The Writing Center, located in the Humanities Building, is another resource where students receive tutoring with writing assignments, as well as brainstorming and creating ideas.
Dean Lofgren, the coach for the cross country and track and field programs, has been coaching at El Camino for 38 years and is aware the South Bay Promise is a program that draws students into the college.
The South Bay Promise is a program that waives enrollment fees for full-time students attending college for first-time high school graduates. The program will also waive those fees for second-year students.
“Most all of the local high schools are well instructed by their high school counselors, as well as media exposure that the South Bay Promise is there, and is available to them.”
“Students that come from our local high schools that are aware of the South Bay Promise get things going step-by-step counseling, registration,” Lofgren said, who initially began as an assistant coach, and later took the reigns as head coach in 1989. “It’s a great opportunity for them.”
To ensure an increase in enrollment, Lofgren practices the traditional way of recruiting athletes to potentially join cross country and track and field programs at El Camino by reaching out to local high schools.
Additionally, high school seniors discover the campus’ athletic facilities through tours given by Lofgren, which eventually plays a factor in a student’s decision to enroll at El Camino as a student-athlete.
Sequoia Gonzales, a freshman out of Torrance High School, is a member of El Camino’s cross-country team. She was recruited by Lofgren to run at the college.
Gonzales had known Lofgren before attending El Camino, as both her parents attended the college, and competed on Lofgren’s teams as students. Part of her decision in wanting to attend El Camino was the available resources the college has for student-athletes.
“Definitely the FYE Program,” said Gonzales, referring to the First Year Experience Program, as well as the on-campus resources that caught her attention. “Of course, the South Bay Promise was very eye-catching for me for sure.”
The FYE program is a program for first-year college students that provides educational and career guidance. Priority registration is one of the advantages a student can take with the program.
“It’s a great opportunity to get your first few years free,” Hazell said. “That’s for anybody on campus and not just athletes.”
Editor’s note: The information on the athletic department’s budget was provided by Kerri Webb, Director of Public Information and Government Relations, and Jeffrey Hinshaw, Business Manager.