By Ray Hamill — Santa Claus came early for the Corsairs this year.
Or maybe he came just in time for a community that was desperate for some good news in the midst of what has been a disappointing year sports wise to say the least.
The announcement that College of the Redwoods President Dr. Keith Flamer is “exploring the feasibility of resuming football (at the school) in the fall of 2022” doesn’t guarantee college football will return to the North Coast, but it strongly suggests there is a very good chance it will.
And that will come as great news for a local sports community that loves its football and lost its two college teams in the past few years.
The potential reinstatement, according to Flamer, “relies on a number of modifications and improvements to the program, ones that the college believes will elevate academics and prioritize the ‘student’ part of ‘student athlete.’”
In addition to prioritizing academics — as should be the case and is something the CR athletics department has done well in recent years — there would also be a stronger emphasis on local recruiting, as also should be the case.
CR football has let down this community in recent years, with local recruiting largely stagnant and a pool of talented players opting to play elsewhere.
And while there will always be some local players who want to leave the area right out of high school, I know for a fact that many of last year’s stellar class would have preferred to stay here if they had been heavily recruited.
Many of these players will stay to play if you make them feel truly wanted, and the opportunity to compete in front of a local crowd and friends and family will further encourage them.
And that would be a huge benefit for the local community college in terms of enrollment and creating more interest in the athletics department, as well as for the local sports community, which would get the opportunity to continue to watch these local stars play.
Whoever takes over this program — if it is reinstated and if they recruit heavily here on the North Coast — will have a golden opportunity to build something special considering the talent that continues to graduate from a number of top-class and state-contending H-DNL programs.
The pool of players isn’t big enough for the entire program, and outside recruiting will always be needed, but there are enough local players to build a solid foundation.
Could you imagine the interest in Corsairs football if they featured a large number of local players and were winning like the men’s and women’s basketball teams did last winter?
The success of those two teams showed us just how much this community loves its sports teams and just how far it will go to support them if they feature local talent.
It should be a priority for CR football.
Fortunately, there are a number of local coaches who get this and who would be able to build something special at CR.
Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, but Thursday provided a huge step in the right direction and some fantastic news for North Coast sports fans.