Posted:January 31, 2017
It’s no secret that Century College has a great baseball team. Ranked the #5 baseball team among Division III two-year colleges in the nation, Century College has won the regional championship four of the past five years, earning a berth in the National Junior College Division III World Series each time.
In the eight years the baseball program has existed at Century College, over 80 players have moved on to play for Division I, Division II, and other four-year schools. Two have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.
Century College, as a Division III school, cannot offer scholarships to players like Division I and Division II college programs. So what is it that brings such talented players to Century College?
The simple answer is that Century College’s baseball program is just that good.
“The scholarship schools are recruiting the same players we’re trying to recruit,” said Coach Dwight Kotila. “We can’t compete with them by giving a scholarship; the best way we can compete with them is by beating them on the field.”
The Chance to Develop
Another key draw is the opportunity Century College provides players to develop, both on the baseball field and in the classroom.
For players like Alex Evenson, a first baseman and a pitcher, who would likely be relegated to a bench role at a four-year school, Century College was the smart choice.
“I came to Century College because it gave me the chance to play baseball at a high level and keep developing to get to the next level,” said Evenson. “And I was able to get a good education at a low rate.”
Evenson came to Century College as a pitcher, but after hurting his arm early in the season, he was unable to pitch for the rest of the season. Rather than shutting down Evenson for the season, Kotila gave Evenson a chance to hit as a first baseman.
“Dwight really cares – he never gives up on his players. I think that other coaches bring a lot more players in to weed out some guys,” said Evenson. “But Dwight is committed to giving all of his players time to develop, and that really makes a difference to the team.”
Players don’t come to Century College expecting to play well – they come expecting to excel.
“Our players are out here for a purpose. They want to make it to the highest level,” said Kotila.
One of the key reasons players chose Century College over other two-year college programs is the high demands the coaches make of their players.
“I came to Century College because I liked the coaches,” said right-fielder Chad Musser. “I thought they’d do the most to help me reach a Division I or Division II program – they really push you to give your all.”
Players are required to practice almost every day, attend weight training, and engage in fundraising activities for the baseball program that typically add up to over $50,000.
Players are also put through rigorous academic oversight; players attend mandatory study tables twice a week, grade reports go out four times a semester, and when students register, Kotila goes over their schedules to make sure his players are taking the right classes.
“We have high expectations of our players – and not just in baseball,” said Kotila. “When we’re recruiting players out of high school, we tell them what we expect of them. We want to get the highest-character kids.”
Academics before Baseball
Century College players understand the importance of academics. In fact, Century College’s academic programs help convince players to enroll.
“Players are interested in coming here because we give them the chance to develop on a successful team,” said Kotila, “but we sell them on our academic program.”
With an average GPA of 3.14, it’s clear that the team takes school seriously.
“The big myth is that the only reason student athletes go to a two-year school is because, academically, that’s the only place they can go. That’s not true,” said Kotila. “We have three players with ACT scores over 30.”
But not everyone who comes to Century College has achieved the level of academic success in high school they were capable of. To Kotila, Century College represents a chance to get back on track.
“They can get a fresh start. They can come here, get their AA degree done, and go wherever they want again,” said Kotila. “If we can use baseball as a tool to drive academic success, that’s awesome.”