Dalton State College Athletics "Share the Vision"

Saturday, November 9, 2013 - by Bob Beavers
Shown, front, from left, Laura Winter of Berlin, Germany (Tennis), Alyne Bianchi from Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil (Volleyball), and Natalie Espinoza-Hensley of Heritage High in Ringgold (Cross Country); back, Athletic Director Derek Waugh and Anthony D'Angelo of Gulfport, Ms. (Golfer)
Shown, front, from left, Laura Winter of Berlin, Germany (Tennis), Alyne Bianchi from Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil (Volleyball), and Natalie Espinoza-Hensley of Heritage High in Ringgold (Cross Country); back, Athletic Director Derek Waugh and Anthony D'Angelo of Gulfport, Ms. (Golfer)
The Dalton State athletics department had an opportunity to "Share The Vision" with members of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce during a Thursday luncheon at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center.

Roadrunner athletic director Derek Waugh outlined the economic, social and community impact of our program and four of our student athletes discussed the importance of the program in their lives.

"Student athletes generally perform at highef levels than the student body at large and hold more leadership positions," said Waugh.
"They have higher GPA's, higher retention rates, higher graduation rates, and are more apt to engage in community service. They are force fed teamwork, hard work, discipline, and competitiveness."

The athletic director said he tells his athletes that "being under a microscope is a good thing."

"I gave coaches an average of five months to put a team together," Waugh told the businesss and professional leaders. "I hoped we would be competitive. We've been more than that."

The group was told that athletics is bringing in new students who are residences of Dalton. "We're making Dalton State a destination school," Waugh said. "We have athletes from 11 different states and 13 different countries." He added, "We have around 111 athletes this year and 90% would not be at Dalton State if not for athletics."

The college athletic department alone has an annual economic impact of over $1.3 million and that doesn't include income from construction projects such as renovation of the new Athletic Center (formerly the Carpet and Rug Institute) and Bandy gymnasium.

The overall college economic impact is said to be around $121 million.

"It's going well now, but this is only the beginning," said Waugh. "We hope to eventually add 14 more sports. This will provide more opportunities for athletes."

He hopes the total program will mean over 600 athletes in town. In addition, each athlete typically means at least three to five more students who follow him or her to a school. "This means more alums and more kids in town," said Waugh.

As coaches recuit they are marketing the campus and the community. "The beautiful area, safety, low cost of attendance, great location and a big time degree are all discussed.

Athletics traditionally help more than any other aspect in helping to build "a college town."

"People like living in a college town," Waugh said. "There is more vitality, more arts, more creativity, and more fun." He cited the vitality of Athens, Statesboro, and Kennesaw.

"College towns have lower average age and a thriving part-time work force," said Waugh. "College towns are more immune to economic downturns. they offfer more social opportunities, and they attract young entrepreneurs."

"If we are allowed to add sports as hoped and increase our footprint, the Dalton State economic impact could go to well over $250 million."

"That's not all," he said. "People like to stay where they went to school. This provides a built-in network."

In 2005, when Kennesaw State moved to NCAA Division I in athletics, their economic impact to the Cobb County area was said to be $122 million. Eight years later, the economic impact to that area is estimated at $926 million.

"Coach (Tony) Ingle had a lot to do with that," Waugh added. "At Dalton State, we want to eventually get to the NCAA Division I level."

"Better athletic programs are a major factor in college decisions and allows colleges more selectivity," according to Waugh.

Dalton State athletes are, for the most part, better students and they have given back to the community through volunteer efforts. They were well represented in the Chamber of Commerce gathering, but four athletes were on the program.

Alyne Bianchi is a native of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. She told the group that in Brazil she had a choice between going to college or becoming a professional volleyball player. There is no athletic scholarship for the sport.

At age 17, she began to "think outside of the box" and moved to Texas to play for a community college team. Her coach was fired during her sophomore year. "I had no one to help me get into a four year program, no one to tell others how good I am," she explained. As a result, she was almost resolved to go back home and go to work.

Bianchi said an agent from Brazil called and told her about the new DS program. She talked to Lady Roadrunner Coach Bruna Langner and is enjoying her new Dalton experience.

A similar experience for Laura Winter of Berlin, Germany. She has been playing tennis since she was four and an injury caused her to reconsider her plans to "go pro".

She is using her considerable tennis skiils to receive an education at Dalton State. The business management major hopes to remain in the states after graduation.

Natalie Espinoza-Hensley experienced a change in sports while in high school at Heritage High in Ringgold. She was on the Lady General's swim team. Her dad had been trying to convince her to start running. She did that during her sophomore year.

During her junior year she was on the Heritage state championship cross country team. And her skills at Dalton State have helped to propel the Lady Roadrunners in wins over many more experienced teams.

Anthony D'Angelo played golf and football in Gulfport, Ms. He was a highly recruited quarterback who comes from an athletic family. His mother played basketball at Tulane. His dad and both older brothers were football stars at Southern Mississippi.

During his senior year of high school, D'Angelo committed to play football at the University of Alabama. The injury caused him to shift his sports career to golf. He played a season at a small community college. As his injury healed, he went on to play quarterback for the much larger Hines Community College in Jackson.

He told the group that his dad and brothers had a history of concussions. While at Hines, he suffered his sixth concussion and was determined that he was not going to try to "out do" his dad and brothers on that score.

A friend from Dalton told him about the new golf program here and, after a few conversations with Coach Ben Rickett, came to Dalton. He said he is happy with his decision, except for being up at 5:30 a.m. to run. "Run for Golf?", he questioned. D'Angelo was emotional as he explained what Dalton State, Coach Rickett, and others here have meant to him.

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