Although a community college may not seem like an athlete’s first choice to start their collegiate sports career, players at such schools recognize the benefits and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Philadelphia Neighborhoods sat down with four athletes representing the Community College of Philadelphia Colonials to get their take on why they chose to play at a junior college.
The athletes spoke about everything from the experience they have gained with the Colonials to what their futures plans are for competing in the NCAA.
Johnanna Riddick is a sophomore at the college and started playing on the basketball and volleyball teams this year. She said she thinks that CCP provided her with an opportunity to continue playing at a four-year institution if she chooses to do so.
“I feel that CCP provided me with exposure for other schools to get a look at me, at my stats and my progress,” said Riddick.
The two sport athlete also spoke about some of the benefits of attending a community college both for educational and athletic purposes.
“Most people think that going off to a four-year college is best, but it [community college] helps you to save money and also helps you stay focused,” Riddick said.
Riddick pointed out that for some, attending a four-year college and living on their own for the first time can be a distraction. However, at a small commuter school like CCP that distraction is avoided.
“Sports-wise, you really get a feel of a team,” Riddick added about lessons she has learned while playing with the Colonials. “It’s not just all about you, it’s about teamwork, so when you go off to college you don’t think, ‘Oh, it’s all about me.’ You have to work as a team.”
Despite the Colonials’ success of winning several Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association and Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championships, the school’s athletic program does not garner nearly as much attention as larger NCAA schools.
“I feel we don’t get as much attention because nobody really pays community colleges any attention,” Riddick said. “They’re just not valued as much as a four-year college and no one really looks into it as much as they do for other schools.”
Riddick added that she plans to transfer to Temple University or another school close to her home in Philadelphia to finish out her college career.
Donte Collier, a sophomore who joined the Colonials’ basketball team in 2013, also spoke about some of the benefits he believes CCP offers.
“At community college, if you don’t know what particular subject you want to study, you can take liberal arts, kind of get your mind right and get ready to move on,” Collier said. “You can choose your career while saving money and you get the same atmosphere as a four-year institution. The school may be just a little smaller.”
Collier agrees that teams in the NCAA get much more exposure than teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association and explained why he believes that’s the case.
“They have ESPN and a lot of TV broadcasting,” Collier said. “When it comes to community colleges, all we have is the Internet and what our coaches are able to see. In NCAA D-I, you’re on T.V. You can be a guy on the bench just clapping it up, but you get exposure and people will see you. Being at a small Division III school, you have to be one of those people who drops a hundred points or runs a 2.0 on the track just to make SportsCenter.”
As for which four-year institution Collier would like to transfer to, he said that right now he is weighing his options.
Sophomore Tema Kidd joined the Colonials’ track and field team in 2012. She credits her coaches with preparing her to continue an athletic career at either West Chester University or Temple.
“Just because I come from a community college doesn’t mean that I’m not Division I or Division II worthy,” Kidd said. “I think that I’m very well prepared.”
Kidd is a Culture Science and Technology major and explained that CCP has provided her with an opportunity to take all her prerequisites at an affordable price. And she said she believes that playing sports at the college keeps the athletes on their toes by keeping their GPA where it needs to be.
Student athletes must maintain a 2.0 grade point average or higher in order to play sports at the college.
Kidd said that the reason CCP’s athletics do not receive much attention is because many people don’t know that the college offers sports or they don’t realize how good the Colonials are.
She said the players give their all in their particular sport and are proud to play for their school.
“As athletes, when we play, we play with our hearts,” Kidd said. “We try to put ourselves out there like ‘Hey, I come from CCP and that’s where I learned everything that I need to learn.’”
If you would like more information about the Colonials you can visit the team’s website.
– Text, images and video by Michelle Kapusta and Stephen Pileggi.