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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)


CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- As part of its ongoing 50th anniversary celebration, Cleveland State Community College announced Thursday the addition of three varsity sports for the 2017-18 school year. All five new teams already have coaches in place.

Golf is being revived at the school with men's and women's teams directed by L.J. Kilby, a former Cleveland State basketball coach -- among numerous other stops in a long career -- who also coached Cougars golfers for two years.

Randy Evans will be the head volleyball coach, assisted by Alizabeth Atnip, and David Kyle will coach men's and women's cross country.

Cleveland State currently has men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball.

The coaches for the new sports already are actively recruiting and working on schedule posssibilities, according to Michael Stokes, vice president for student services.

"In 2015 we launched the Cleveland State Community First Plan -- our strategic plan that is leading us to the future we desire," Bill Seymour, the school's president, said at an afternoon media gathering that also included faculty, staff, students and government dignitaries. "One of our primary goals is to grow our enrollment from about 3,500 students to consistently over 4,000 students."

He said the school chose to seek growth by expanding, not reducing, its offerings, and Denise King, vice president for academic affairs, announced new degree programs to begin in the fall semester: mechanical engineering, law enforcement and mechatronics.

Other programs are getting additional resources and faculty, and finance and advancement vice president Tommy Wright announced the first naming of a Cleveland State academic program with the Greg A. Vital Center for Natural Resources and Conservation. That follows a $250,000 donation from the local businessman and "buffalo farmer" who long has been active in conservation causes.

Seymour said the announcements Thursday are expected to add "80 to 100" students right away.

Athletic director Mike Policastro said the added sports should bring in almost 40, pushing the school's student-athlete population to about 125. The three sports chosen were part of a proposal he made about three years ago.

Only Walters State in the TCCAA has volleyball and golf right now, but other junior colleges in the region are expected to add volleyball soon, and matches against four-year schools' junior varsities are available. And cross country and golf teams can be part of meets or tournaments that include teams from multiple collegiate levels.

"This is a new approach, especially for Cleveland State," Policastro said, "but we think it will be beneficial for us and our service area."

Golf has been successful in past incarnations at the school, with men's teams winning the state association in 1972 and 1976 and earning region titles in 2004 and 2005. Kilby, who started the golf program at Lincoln Memorial University when he was the basketball coach there in the early 1980s, has worked in recent years at the Chatata Valley course in Cleveland, and he is looking forward to working with both men's and women's players from a golf-rich area.

"The difference this time is it's golf only. I'm not also coaching basketball," he said.

One of his sons, Zach, is a Cleveland State freshman and already is lined up to join the golf Cougars.

Evans was a Cleveland State men's assistant basketball coach for two years before moving to Silverdale Baptist Academy, where he coached volleyball among other duties. The former Bryan College basketball player also has coached club volleyball.

Atnip grew up in Michigan and played volleyball for two years at Alma College there but moved to Cleveland because her husband is from the area. A past middle school and club coach, she is the sports coordinator at the Cleveland YMCA.

Kyle is a former Bradley Central wrestler and cross country and track runner who remains competitive as a trail runner. He has been an assistant coach for Cleveland High's improving cross country program the past three years.

Contact Ron Bush at [email protected] or 423-757-6291.

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January 20, 2017


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