New sports programs at local colleges will give more kids a chance

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Come fall of 2018, Youngstown State won’t be the only college in the Valley to offer sports. Eastern Gateway, Kent State Trumbull, and Penn State Shenango are all starting athletic programs.

It’s been almost 20 years since Kent State Trumbull and Penn State Shenango had an athletic program. This will be Eastern Gateway’s first.

“It’s nice to have more local schools, JUCO schools in the area. Youngstown was really the only school,” said Zach, a baseball player at Eastern Gateway. “It gives local kids in Ohio a chance to go to school for cheaper and still play baseball.”

All three schools are starting small with one or two sports. Baseball is the first sport in Eastern Gateway’s program, while Kent State Trumbull will start with a club cross country team, and Penn State Shenango will offer men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams.

“Sports are an important element of our growth, of our future, and that’s what students expect,” said Dr. Lance Grahn, of Kent State Trumbull.

Bringing sports to these colleges is proving attractive for more kids — both inside and outside of the area.

Penn State Shenango Coach Andre Smith was busy recruiting in Columbus on Friday.

“Anytime you can tell a person, ‘You can come here and get a good quality, a great education, a Penn State education,’ I think that’s going to be our main focal point of selling the program,” he said.

The other coaches are also busy recruiting.

Kent State Cross Country Coach Bill Hess hopes starting small will help get athletes who couldn’t go to Divisions 1 or 2.

“You’re going to get a lot of kids who might not normally come here. Like, you’re going to get kids that don’t think they can play anywhere, don’t think they can maybe go anywhere else and do it, but they can come here and do it,” Hess said.

Kent State’s team looks to race YSU and other regional colleges. Eastern Gateway will compete in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference, and Penn State Shenango will compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

All three schools hope to add more sports once they get their programs settled and receive additional funding.