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After 35 year Hiatus, Baseball is Returning to Columbia College

Columbia College
File Photo

Columbia College baseball is making its big debut next February after a 35 year hiatus.

The reinstatement of the team is a product of the athletic department’s five year plan.

“We had a five year strategic plan of development and growth and part of that was expansion, I think for several reasons,” said Athletic Director Bob Burchard. “Number one is to add depth and breadth to our department in terms of our offerings and then to provide a balance of sport opportunities to recruit new students to Columbia College.”

The college has added 10 varsity National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics teams to the school’s roster since 2012, but this hasn’t had a significant impact on enrollment at the school.

Director of Admissions Stephanie Johnson believes adding sports has and will continue to increase the school’s familiarity among high schools they recruit from.

“Bigger than the enrollment increase is really the awareness that it’s bringing to the institution,” said Johnson. “The awareness that we’ll have, not only in Missouri, but in the Midwest in general and across the nation is just putting us in that realm of the students that are looking first for a program or a sport before they look at an institution.”

Johnson also talked about the importance of having the resources to support these sports once they’ve been introduced to the college.

“We had to do it in a smart way so that we had the facilities and the resources to provide for those sports and to make sure that they were going to be successful,” said Johnson.

With a campus situated in the heart of Columbia, the school had to look elsewhere for a field for the baseball team to call home.

“We’ve somewhat bridged that concern when we built the Brouder Science Center on campus which took over where our softball facility used to exist,” said Burchard. “So once we kind of got used to having our student athletes participate out of the footprint of our main campus it took some of the fear away of being able to accomplish a similar goal with baseball.”

The team is still in the process of recruiting, but will take the field for the first time next February.