No. 7: Changes plentiful for Broncbusters' athletics

12/25/2013

Editor's Note:This is the fourth in a series of 10 stories counting down the top sports stories of 2013 as voted on by The Telegram staff.

Editor's Note:This is the fourth in a series of 10 stories counting down the top sports stories of 2013 as voted on by The Telegram staff.

BY J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

Change is imminent.

Some say the only way to progress is to change.

And progress is what Garden City Community College President Herb Swender attributes to the many changes that have occurred on the athletics' side of the college over the past year, including a restructuring of sports administration, which resulted in athletic director Ryan Ruda assuming that position in February; the building of a new multi-sport facility to host football, soccer and track and field events; and a total of seven head coaches being replaced and/or named during the 2013 calendar year, making the many developments the No. 7 sports story for 2013 as voted on by The Telegram's staff.

"Like any organization, it's always a fluid process," Swender said in a telephone interview on Monday. "We're trying to deliver the best athletic program we can."

As a sort of an omen for the rest of the year, former head football coach Jeff Tatum resigned in early January after two seasons to take over the same position at Mississippi Delta Community College just a month after leading the Broncbusters to their first bowl win since 2001.

In the months following, Rob Lutz resigned as women's volleyball coach after two seasons, Alaura Sharp resigned as women's basketball coach after four seasons, Rand Chappell resigned as men's basketball coach after a single season and women's soccer coach Ki Thornberry resigns just days before what would have been her third season at the helm.

Matt Miller was hired to take over for Tatum; Nick Salazar replaced Sharp; Brady Trenkle took the helm from Chappell; Harvey Sanders was named the successor to Lutz; and Hector Martinez was named interim women's soccer coach before Charles Long was named the permanent coach after the season concluded.

In addition, Ryan Turner was introduced as new cross country, taking over for Dan Delgado, and also will coach the new full-squad track and field team. The college also announced they were adding women's golf to an already established men's golf program, culminating in the search for the replacement of the boys' coach, Phil Terpstra, who could not take over both programs full time.

In the meantime, the restructuring of the athletic administration occurred in February, as Ruda was named A.D., previous A.D. Dennis Harp was moved to Director of Athletic Advancement (a month later, Harp resigned from that position), Colin Lamb was named an assistant A.D. and Delgado took over as sports information director.

"I think with any position, there's definitely learning curves," Ruda said about his new role in a phone interview at the time. "You work to get good people in place there, with good skill sets there, that can help you along there, too. I feel like that's definitely what we have in place here, a good group of people with good skill sets there that we can pull from each other."

Swender, at the time, also expressed his views on the sports programs and how to progress.

"As we grow our programs here, it's gonna take more resources," Swender said. "There's a direct correlation between program success and resources."

So in April, the GCCC Board of Trustees used some of those resources and approved a $2.26 million bid to construct a multi-sport facility to house football, soccer and track and field. The facility went under construction in June and was finished in November. The soccer program played all of their games on the field that was completed before the season began, while the football team played this season at Garden City High School's Buffalo Stadium. T

"I think the excitement is just going to be palpable," Miller said at the time about the prospect of playing at the news stadium. "It's going to be tremendous, not only for my program and my players, but for the community as a whole."

Even though the delay in the construction of the bleachers and press box left the Busters without a true home field for 2013, it will be ready to go for 2014.

Will the rest of the athletic department?

"You never arrive at perfection," Swender said. "It's a fluid process. This past year, this coming year, it's about getting the right people, the right student-athletes."

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