By: CJ Peterson
As students roll up Campus Hill Drive, they are immediately met with the sights of rolling green hills, masterful structures of academia, and, well, way too many parking lots.
Some might say it would be the perfect place to build a larger bookstore, a library, or even another building for classrooms. But others, who can truly see what Las Positas is lacking, know that this would be the perfect place for a brand new football field, or even a baseball diamond.
This is because for all that Las Positas has to offer academically, it also lies victim to a severe lack of athletic opportunities.
Now I know what you might be asking yourselves: “Doesn’t Las Positas already have athletics programs?” And the answer to that question is yes.
Las Positas, while staying within the guidelines of Title 9, which stipulates that there must be equal opportunities for all genders when it comes to athletic programs, currently offers six sports.
The Hawks currently have teams in men’s and women’s basketball, swimming/diving, cross country, soccer, and just added this year, water polo.
But while there are some options for potential students, these outlets are simply not enough to fit the needs of the surrounding area while also fulfilling the desires of those looking to attend Las Positas College.
Each year, LPC misses out on hundreds of students who would otherwise attend the college if there were more opportunities to reach their athletic goals as they are forced to attend other schools.
Why would it be a viable option to even consider expanding Las Positas’ athletic department?
The answer resides in three words: Location, location, location.
The Tri-Valley area of the East Bay houses over a dozen high schools, who graduate thousands of students each year.
These schools include Granada High School, Amador Valley High School, Livermore High School, Valley Christian High School, and Dublin High school just to name a few.
And out of these thousands of students graduated who come out of these schools, many of them look to participate in a sport during their post-high-school careers.
This is precisely where Las Positas’ geographic location would come into play.
Even with the large high school activity in the surrounding area, there are a total of zero community colleges that lie within an 18 mile radius of LPC,
Due to this fact, Las Positas presents itself as the best option, in terms of proximity, for the majority residents in the tri-valley area.
But for a school that could have such an enormous gravitas for local athletes, it’s crazy to think that they are not cashing in on this golden opportunity.
Sister school of Las Positas, Chabot Community College, located in Hayward, CA, on the other hand has been able to capitalize on this.
Offering a multitude of sports including football, baseball, softball, wrestling, tennis and volleyball, Chabot has been able to use it’s leverage in terms of luring potential recruits to their programs.
Being the next closest option for many athletes who want to play sports like the ones previously mentioned, recruiting is a much easier task.
15 out of 75 players on Chabot’s active football roster in 2015 came from the tri-valley area, including the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore.
Second year Chabot linebacker, Zach Parella, who graduated from Valley Christian High School said he would have reasonably considered playing for Las Positas, had they offered a football program.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love playing at Chabot, but I absolutely would have considered playing at Las Positas. They just don’t have a (football) team.”
Laney College in Oakland, and Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill have also been able to recruit top notch local athletes from the tri-valley area.
But football isn’t the only sport that would thrive here at LPC. Baseball and softball present themselves as two of the most popular sports in the ti-valley area.
Dean of Athletics, Dr. Dyan Miller, says that she routinely gets calls from local residents inquiring about a potential Hawks baseball team being started, saying “I get a call almost once a month from people. ‘Hey have you ever thought about starting a baseball team at Las Positas? I’d like to coach’.”
So with the desire being present, what is stopping Las Positas from expanding their athletic department by creating more programs?
Well, just like anything else, athletics cost money. Money LPC doesn’t have.
Football in particular is notoriously one of the most expensive sports to not only start, but also maintain.
In an article posted on the USA Today website, it is estimated to cost roughly $2500 to outfit each player on a division II football team
Granted, Las Positas would not be a division II football program, but that figure is still relevant for the sake of argument.
Even if that number were to be cut down to $2000 per athlete for a community college level team, that is still around $150,000 to properly outfit a 75 man roster.
Combined with what it would cost to pay a coaching staff and provide transportation to and from games, it would run the school roughly $500,000-600,000 per year to fund a football program.
Then include the initial cost of new practice equipment to start the team, the first year would cost well into the seven figure range.
The one thing football would have going for it is the fact that they already have a field to play on.
Just behind the Las Positas campus sits a full size soccer field already used by the the school’s soccer team.
But more importantly, the field also possesses the ability to become a multi-purpose playing surface.
Having “sleeves” in the field, meant to place football goalposts in, this means that LPC would not have to build a new field for a potential football program.
The only problem that would arise in this plan would be seating. Without permanent bleachers, a place to sit for spectators might be the only real issue.
As for a baseball and or softball diamond however, things would be a little more tricky.
Adequate land would allow the school to find a place to put these facilities, but once again, the funds are the only thing holding this plan from becoming reality.
Dr. Miller says that there have been plans to construct one or both fields in the works for year.
“The master plan has the drawings already scoped out with a baseball field, softball field, and tennis courts.” said Miller.
But with recent budget cuts in the past few years, these plans never came to fruition.
So while the ideas are good, looking at the multi-million effort it would take to make them a reality, it’s easy to see that there simply is not enough money to go around.
In the last publicly accessible annual report for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, released in 2014, it shows that Las Positas and Chabot grossed nearly $115,000,000 in revenue during that year.
Now obviously all of that cash didn’t go directly to Las Positas. Rather, that 115,0000,000 was split between the two school almost evenly.
That still left LPC with $57,500,000 they had to work with.
In the same annual report that showed how much the school received, it also came with a colorful pie chart showing how the school’s funds were allocated.
Nearly 40 percent was spent on academic salaries, 23 percent on benefits, 12 percent on school services, two percent on supplies, three percent on transfers out, and less than one percent on miscellaneous expenses.
Chabot and Las Positas also reported that 20 percent of their annual income was allocated to “Classified Salaries”, adding up to roughly $23,000,000 of the school’s revenue.
Dean of Student Services, Barbara Morrissey, says that these “Classified Salaries” are salaries of those who are not teachers, or non-instructional employees.
“Instructional assistants, groundskeeping crews, security, all of those types of people are ‘classified employees’.” said Morrissey.
With seemingly all of the school’s money tied up, it doesn’t look like there would be a whole lot of room to add these expensive athletic programs and facilities within the annual budget.
Is there any possibility of this happening any time soon?
There is one saving grace. On March 2nd’s monthly board meeting held in Livermore, the proposition of a $950,000,000 bond was brought up.
The bond, which would also be evenly split between the Chabot and Las Positas campuses, is the best option in terms of paying all of the bills that come with having additional sports programs.
With many details still left to be hashed out, it is expected that the measure would fund nearly all of the potential additions, including the seating for the already existing soccer field, which would also house a Las Positas football team if one is conceived.
All bets are off however when it comes to these kinds of propositions, as the public reaction to measures of this nature are typically unpredictable.
But in the early stages, there is a lot of optimism floating around the subject as preliminary surveys are set to be taken in the next few months.
So with the desire for more teams already here and the plans of action already mapped out it seems as though it is only a matter of time until Las Positas turns things around. Until then students will continue to park their cars in half empty parking lots, wondering what could be.