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Jamie Howell, Golf Head Coach
BCC Golf: One-of-a-Kind in the Sunshine State
June 18, 2012, Melbourne, FL - Brevard Community College is the only two-year school in Florida with a men’s golf team, which is bad and good.
Since there are no in-state peers – at one time there were 20 other junior colleges with teams - so BCC players find themselves honing their skills against top-flight competition in both their fall and spring seasons.
They travel in a 15-passenger van to events throughout the Southeast as well as competing in tournaments hosted by four-year colleges and universities in Florida.
“NCAA Division II and NAIA colleges routinely invite BCC to compete in their tournaments recognizing BCC is competitive at all levels of competition collegiately,” Titan head coach Jamie Howell said. “Invitations to NCAA Division I events are difficult to come by since NCAA ranking considers strength of field when calculating ranking points for Division I programs.”
Conversely, since there is no in-state competition for junior college recruits, Howell has the pick of the golfers not swept up by Division I and other four-year schools.
Once those athletes enroll at BCC, the experience provides seasoning they require to move on to a four-year school after graduation. That can be a challenge given the level of expectations.
“Junior College transfers have a bigger challenge when transferring than most people would recognize as the student-athlete must get acclimated to a new college, new surroundings and environment as well as a new coach and program,” Howell said.
“Someone who has been at the same college for their freshman and sophomore years before becoming a junior has a leg up on the junior college transfer who arrives and is expected to hit the ground running all while trying to learn a new coach’s routine and the college’s demands both academically and athletically.”
Chris Saltmarsh, head golf coach at Melbourne’s Florida Institute of Technology, doesn’t see any negatives about BCC being the only community college program in the state.
“I don’t think having BCC as the only junior college men’s golf program in Florida makes it difficult to recruit because of the difference in recruitment,” he said through a Florida Tech spokesman. “I believe it actually serves as a benefit. While we may be recruiting the same prospects, not all prospects fit the standards necessary to be eligible to play NCAA Division II. But after attendance and/or graduation from BCC, that prospect now has the experience and potential eligibility to play at the Division II level.
“BCC has had a great impact on the Florida Tech golf program, providing great individuals on the course and in the classroom. Recent graduate Christian Westhorpe (of Titusville) was a member of the BCC golf team and to date is arguably the best player to play at Florida Tech. He followed in the footsteps of his brother Kyle Westhorpe who also has his name cemented in our record books. Starting in fall 2012, we will have another Titan golfer in Justin Kalanquin and have high hopes for similar success.”
Obviously, the transfer athletes are well prepared thanks to demands placed on them by their two-year colleges.
While talent will certainly get a player noticed and pave the way to a scholarship, academic performance both in high school and once a player enrolls at BCC is just as vital. After all, no GPA, no play.
“The challenge to recruit the type of student athlete who can handle the rigors of balancing a full load academically while competing at the highest level offered by a junior college requires the student-athlete to possess good organizational skills as well as being motivated to progress on to the next level upon graduating from BCC,” Howell said.
“All potential recruits want the same thing: success. The bigger task in recruiting is recognizing who is willing to take the steps necessary to build a successful career.
“In the past 10 years junior colleges have taken on a more important role in the area of post-secondary education when offering the opportunity to compete collegiately. Many graduating high school seniors are not quite ready to compete at the NCAA Division I or II level and junior colleges fill the role of providing the foundation for a successful collegiate campaign both academically and athletically. I would expect many four-year universities and colleges would echo this thought.”
Florida community colleges ruled the national tournament, winning 15 straight titles from 1966-1980 and capturing 21 overall through the most recent title earned by a Florida community college in 1993.
That was then. This is now.
“Brevard Community College sits in the heart of the golf capital of the planet, Florida,” Howell said. “With 28 other junior colleges and 20 of those fielding athletic departments, Florida should be the model for junior college golf programs throughout the country. It presents a unique opportunity in the area of collegiate recruiting as the number of young men who would like to begin their collegiate career in our state can be staggering.
“While it looks to be a challenge from the outside, BCC’s biggest challenge is living up to and carrying forward a tradition started 45 years ago by our first golf coach, Floyd Horgen,” Howell added. “If you ask about college programs in Florida you will find many people know about BCC and all that we have achieved in a very short period of time.”
NJCAA Men’s National Golf Team Champions from Florida
1966: Miami-Dade Junior College
1967: Chipola Junior College, Marianna
1968: St. Petersburg Junior College
1969: St. Petersburg Junior College
1970: Miami-Dade Junior College/North
1971: Brevard Community College
1972: Miami-Dade Community College/North
1973: Miami-Dade Community College/North
1974: Broward Community College
1975: Miami-Dade Community College/North
1976: Brevard Community College
1977: Brevard Community College
1978: Brevard Community College
1979: Broward Community College/Central
1980: Miami-Dade Community College/North
1985: Brevard Community College
1986: Florida Junior College, Jacksonville
1987: Brevard Community College
1991: Brevard Community College
1993: Pensacola Junior College (Division II)