A Labor of Love: The Rise of New College Athletics

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy New College: The Mighty Banyans' first baseball game.

Building the first-ever intercollegiate sports program at New College of Florida goes beyond winning games and championships. It is a lesson in mindset and perseverance, and a labor of love. The energy and enthusiasm surrounding Mighty Banyans athletics are undeniable, as these scholar-athletes bring their all to the field, classroom and campus every single day.

Last Saturday evening, our highly successful Athletics Gala fundraising event brought together over 300 community members who showed unwavering support for what we have achieved in just under a year. The aim of this event was not only to celebrate our growth, but also to raise funds for the continued expansion of our athletics program.

In a remarkably short amount of time, New College has accomplished a lot. We now have six varsity teams taking to the field, and we have been fortunate to recruit coaches and athletes who have heart and are driven by excellence. With the support of our community partners, we have gained access to premier local sports venues such as IMG AcademyManatee County's Premiere Sports Complex and Hal Chasey Gymnasium at State College of Florida, enabling our teams to compete at the highest level.

These accomplishments, achieved with remarkable efficiency, have earned us admission into the prestigious National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Sun Conference. This membership, which begins later this year, is a testament to our commitment and determination.

Just over a week ago, our baseball team made history at Bradenton's legendary LECOM Park. Surrounded by the New College community, they secured the Mighty Banyans' first-ever win. The support and cheers from students were unrelenting, and we’re simply proud of the community we are building.

Our softball team achieved a significant milestone when they hosted the first-ever on-campus sporting event on February 3. The transformation of our east campus into a functional regulation field is also the beginning of our mission to create top-notch facilities and recreational spaces for our students and community. As we continue to refine our Campus Master Plan, providing our athletes with state-of-the-art playing and training facilities on campus will be a top priority.

Behind the scenes, Mariano Jimenez, Jr., our Director of Athletics, has been the driving force behind this transformative journey. Mariano's passion and unwavering faith in our scholar-athletes have been the cornerstone of our success. When he joined New College, he faced a strong challenge, and his vision, perseverance and belief have elevated our sports program to a place no one could have imagined in less than a year. The infectious school spirit and energy he brings have engaged students throughout campus life.

As New College continues its trajectory of growth, our vision is to introduce more athletics opportunities and scholarships for scholar-athletes. Golf, lacrosse and volleyball are already on the horizon for the 2024-2025 season. We are committed to continuously evaluating additional sports to be integrated into our athletics program and we invite you to witness the rise of Mighty Banyans athletics by visiting GoMightyBanyans.com.

We are incredibly proud of our entire community at New College of Florida, and under Mariano's leadership, the scholar-athletes are doing something that has never been done before, embracing the wins and the challenges with unwavering dedication both in the classroom and on the field. Their perseverance and mindset, fueled by Mariano's passion, inspire us all.

Richard Corcoran is president of New College of Florida.

Photo courtesy New College: The Mighty Banyans' first baseball game.

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