Patriot Ledger // Published July 10, 2019 // By Mike Loftus
After two seasons of men’s soccer and men’s basketball, Quincy College is expanding its sports offerings to cross-country and women’s volleyball in the coming two school years.
QUINCY — Things are a little slow on campus these days, but the pace will pick up soon enough.
At Quincy College, that will be meant quite literally.
Besides the men’s soccer team that will start preparing for the program’s third season, a new group of student athletes – men’s and women’s cross country runners – will begin training for the first time ever. As that’s happening, a new coach will begin visiting high schools throughout the South Shore and along the MBTA’s Red Line, recruiting players for the school’s first women’s volleyball team.
Quincy College doesn’t plan to stop its athletic expansion there, but the two-year, municipally affiliated school also has no plan to race to add as many teams as quickly as possible.
“It takes time to build a program,” said athletic director Jack Raymer, who was hired in the fall of 2017 – just as the men’s soccer team was playing its first games, and the men’s basketball team was preparing for its first season. “We started out with our two sports, and we’re trying gradually, slowly, as the college grows a little bit, to implement as many sports as we can. That’s our goal.”
That goal matches the goal of the school itself, so there’s some mutual back-scratching in play: As Quincy’s athletic offerings expand, more local athletes are likely to be attracted to the school, which is trying to achieve growth in enrollment.
“Athletics is an opportunity for us to attract more students,” said Michael Bellotti, who became Quincy College’s president about a year after Raymer arrived, in 2018. “It may be a different type of student – someone who may not have gone to college, but the fact that they’ll have a chance to play a sport can be an incentive. So athletics can increase our enrollment, and our retention.”
A National Junior College Athletic Association member, the Granite haven’t inched back into the athletics game to build national powerhouses or serve as a breeding ground for athletes who want to move onto larger schools. That can happen, but the school wants prospective athletes to come to campus ready and willing to spend two years working toward a degree.
“Our goal, and the goal of the college, is not to have kids come in just to play sports,” Raymer said. “We want to do everything we can to help them get their Associate’s Degree.
“If they just want to stay here, enjoy two years and get an Associate’s Degree, that’s great. If they want to move on to a four-year school, well, (four-year) college coaches come to our games to look at these kids. It’s a two-way opportunity for kids who come here.”
The Granite’s growing athletic program is dominated by people who grew up in the city.
Raymer, a Quincy High School graduate, worked in the Quincy schools system for 33 years (18 as a teacher, 15 as an administrator), and was head coach of the football team as well as a track coach. Upon retirement from the school system, he coached tennis and was on the football staff at Xaverian Brothers High School until the Quincy College job came up. (Raymer also played baseball at Quincy College in 1975, before the athletics program was phased out.)
Doug Scott, who set city basketball scoring records before graduating from Quincy High in 2009, is the basketball coach. John Furey, recently hired to coach the new co-ed cross country team, is a Quincy native who has coached in his hometown at Eastern Nazarene College and North Quincy High. Bellotti, the former state representative and Norfolk County Sheriff who describes himself as “a frustrated athlete,” grew up in Wollaston and is raising his family in Squantum. Idris Senyonjo, the men’s soccer coach, is the outlier – he’s from Uganda – but he played soccer at UMass-Boston.
Simply put, the department knows where the players are. Now, it’s a matter of letting those players know they can extend their athletic careers, and work toward a degree, at Quincy College.
“I’ll go from the Cape Cod Canal up here (Quincy) to visit the high schools,” Raymer said. “I try to meet with guidance counselors, because they’re the ones who really know kids who could benefit from a two-year junior college, and then I meet with athletic directors to get information out to their coaches.
“The more schools I can get into, to tell students that Quincy College now has athletics, the better. Some of them didn’t know that. And of course, my coaches are out there doing the same thing.”
Word is spreading. The Granite’s 21-3 record in its inaugural men’s basketball season (2017-18) resulted in more than 40 players competing for spots on last year’s team. The men’s soccer team, 5-7 in 2018 after a three-win first season, anticipates a roster with players from Quincy, Weymouth and Randolph in the 2019 campaign.
Raymer is excited to add co-ed cross country, which will include the first women in the revived athletics program, and to bring in women’s volleyball for the 2020 season. Successful lift-offs could lead to more programs being offered, with women’s basketball and club hockey (men and women) among sports being considered.
But there’s no rush, no plan to make athletics an outsized investment. The Granite will continue to work with departments and schools within the city when it comes to game venues (Veterans Memorial Stadium for soccer, Eastern Nazarene for basketball) and practice sites.
“We don’t have a big budget,” Raymer said, “but as the college grows, we can grow. That’s where I see us heading. We’re going to gradually build this.”