By Kennedy Wilkerson
Many young athletes dream of playing their sport at the next level.
For some, they may find their talents take them to a Division I University.
For others their athletic career may take them to a junior college straight out of high school.
Then there are some who detour back to a JUCO after starting out at a higher classification.
Earlier this year, Maricopa County Community College district officials announced the Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa football programs would be eliminated after the 2018 season in an attempt to relieve financial constraints.
The elimination of these programs is potentially taking away the dreams of many of student athletes in Arizona and across the country who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete at the college level.
After seeing the benefits of these programs firsthand, former Glendale Community College head football coach, Joe Kersting has been one of the many voices advocating to keep JUCO football in the Valley.
“There are 200 high schools just in Maricopa County that play football,” Kersting said. “If there are 20 seniors on each team, that is 4,000 football players…There are plenty of athletes out there… and that is what is so disappointing to me.”
Fall to Fall retention? NO
— Fight 4 Maricopa County JuCo Football (@4Juco) April 22, 2018
Kersting created the “#SaveJUCOFootball” movement to help circulate the conversation on the impact of the officials’ decision to cut the sport earlier this year.
Although the hashtag has been used frequently on social media platforms, Kersting said talking about saving JUCO football simply isn’t enough.
Kersting is calling for parents, coaches, teachers, and eligible community members to go out and vote for the candidates who are dedicated to helping to salvage the future of these once prominent football programs.
Picture worth a thousand words!
No opposing candidates bother to show up for @mcccd Governing Board Candidates Forum today!
Roc Arnett-At Large
These are the people who really care.
— Fight 4 Maricopa County JuCo Football (@4Juco) October 29, 2018
Currently, District 4 board member, Jean McGrath is the only incumbent seeking re-election.
Kersting is urging voters not to re-elect her and instead proposes voters cast ballots for Stan Arterberry in District 4 along with Roc Arnett, the at-large candidate, and Marie Sullivan in District 3.
The addition of these three board members, along with Tom Nerini, who ran unopposed in District 5, would help ignite the dialogue that has been missing since the announcement of cutting the programs was made back in February.
“We have been looking to get a seat at the table to tell our side of the story and nobody invited us,” Kersting said. “The next best thing to do is to change the governing board.”
Although Arterberry, Arnett, and Sullivan have all committed to transparency once elected, the recovery of JUCO football is still not guaranteed. Electing these officials will only help authorize stakeholders to open up conversation and express their side of the issue.
You can have your voice heard on the retention of junior college football in Maricopa County by voting on Tuesday, November 6 in the Arizona Midterm Elections.