BREMERTON — Olympic College cut its men’s and women’s soccer programs in early January.
Olympic College Athletic Director Barry Janusch announced on Jan. 5 that the men’s and women’s programs would be cut from the budget.
The cut was made by the Board of Trustees.
“I can’t give an exact amount,” Janusch said of the resulting budget savings. “It’s a significant enough amount.”
2012 Kingston High School graduate Brianna Belger said the cut will impact women more than men.
“There isn’t any other option for women to play soccer at this age around here,” she said.
Belger played for West Sound FC and the Kingston Buccaneers. She missed soccer and decided to play at OC. She said a lot of people her age wouldn’t have the chance to play at the college level without OC.
“A lot of students can’t afford — or for other reasons — aren’t able to go to universities,” Belger said. “OC gave them the opportunity.”
For Belger, OC was the only opportunity for her that doesn’t require too much travel.
OC’s athletic department is funded through the student government.
“The increases we were taking on in athletics, mainly soccer, were far outweighing revenue,” Janusch said. “It was a tough decision.”
He added, “We held on for quite some time and looked at every avenue possible.”
There are no other cuts in the foreseeable future, Janusch said.
Soccer is one of the more costly sports, OC soccer
head coach Randy Lund said. The teams have to rent facilities from the county. Insurance for the soccer program, Lund was told, costs about $20,000 per season — about $500 per player.
Lund said baseball is another costly sport, but cheaper than soccer.
Though it doesn’t ruin his plans, Kingston graduate Alex Newton said he was disappointed in the decision.
“It’s a bummer that it happened,” he said.
Both teams do fundraising every fall to support the program. The men’s team, Newton said, raised about $5,000 in donations to support the program.
The donations will remain within the soccer program to fund scholarships, Lund said. Janusch said the scholarships will be used for scholarships for athletes. Both said if any donor wants a refund, they just need to email Janusch at Olympic College. The school will honor 2014-15 scholarships.
Though the donations remain in the soccer program, Newton said it’s not the same.
“It’s not going toward what we thought,” he said.
Belger said if the community knew the soccer program was being threatened, there would have been more support and could potentially have been saved.
“We did some fundraising, but at the time it wasn’t specified that the soccer program was at risk,” she said.
She added, “It’s such a soccer community around here. I think there would have been an effort to save it, if the community as a whole would have known what was going on.”
About 45 people participate in men’s and women’s soccer, Lund said. He said he found other places for some of his players to play.
“For most of my players I’ve already found them places to play,” he said. Those other teams include community colleges in the Puget Sound area. He’s helping the 2015 recruits find places to play as well, he said. Lund remains employed as a coach with OC until his contract ends in June.
The soccer program was added to the list of sports at OC in 2004. Men’s golf was added the same the same year. Women’s golf followed in 2005. The Olympic College Rangers competed in the Northwest Athletic Conference.
Kingston head coach Craig Smith said Kitsap County is a good place for soccer recruiters to catch “gems” to strengthen their college programs.
Smith said he doesn’t buy the reasons the program was cut. North Kitsap High School, for example, has had a soccer program since 1981, which Smith helped found.
Though there are other options for students to play soccer post-high school, Smith said it’s a hit to the community.
“It hurts our kids,” he said.