Tyler Junior College participates in many sports that are available in the district except for women’s softball, and as of spring 2010, no other plans have been made to bring that sport to TJC. The decision was made to develop a women’s soccer team instead because all of the facilities were already built. Pat Hartley Field was built with the full intentions of there being a women’s team as well as a men’s soccer team. “I still get calls about women’s softball the most,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Tim Drain said. “Between softball and men’s track and field, those are the sports people are most concerned with.”The biggest issue for starting a softball team, or any new sport, is the amount of space or land needed and the budget.”With women’s soccer, it was easy since we already had all the space we needed and I could model that program after the men’s team,” Dr. Drain said.Having a women’s softball team would require a completely new field, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, coaches, players, and possibly a scholarship fund depending on the division they would be competing in.”At the junior college level, schools can choose what level they wish to compete at, D1, D2, or D3. D1 gives full scholarships, D2 gives partial and D3 gives no scholarships.
So for women’s softball, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a scholarship fund,” Dr. Drain said.Four-year schools such as UT-Tyler must choose one division for all their sports to compete in. UT-Tyler is a D3 school; therefore their athletes do not receive scholarship money to play.Setting up a schedule for the softball team would be the least of the problems.”There are already 15 other schools competing in softball in our conference, ” Dr. Drain said. “Although we’d love to compete with them, there is just not enough space right now for everything we would need.”Getting players would also most likely not be an issue. When women’s soccer was announced as a sport in 2008, the team signed its first player before TJC hired new coach Corey Rose. Being that there are so many calls about softball and many people are interested, players would most likely jump at the opportunity to play at TJC.Dr. Drain expressed many times that he wishes they could compete in every sport in the district but isn’t sure when or if that can happen. Right now at TJC, there are six men’s sports and five women’s sports. The men’s sports include, soccer, basketball, football, baseball, tennis and golf. The five women’s sports include, volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis and golf. Adding women’s softball would even the sports out and since softball is one of the most requested, it will most likely become the next new sport at TJC. However, there is no strict timeline or projected date for when women’s softball will be joining the athletics program.