Dalton State College will soon have a men’s basketball team to cheer on, but the Roadrunners hope their fans don’t wait until their first season starts to show their support.
The union formed between the Roadrunner Basketball Club and the team was stressed during an on-campus open meeting of the club Thursday night. Highlights from the meeting included the reintroduction of some well-known names, some fresh faces and some new goals surrounding the kick-started athletics department and its flagship program.
Some 30 people filled a room in the school’s James E. Brown Center and listened to club chairman Brady Creel, Roadrunners coach Tony Ingle and athletic director Derek Waugh introduce one another and others while establishing some first-level benchmarks in the new group’s biggest meeting yet.
The goal for the group is to reach 100 members by August, vice chairman Lane Newberry said. The first 100 members, who must make at least a $250 donation, will receive a recognizing certificate and plaque along with an invitation to the First Hundred Members Club Dinner and Dance Celebration.
With other sports joining men’s basketball in the 2013-2014 school year — women’s volleyball, competition cheerleading and men’s and women’s cross country, golf and tennis — alternate sources of revenue are necessary.
“We’re starting six or seven other programs all total,” Newberry said. “(State) funding is very limited. The basketball funds are very limited because of that, so we’re trying to raise some extra funds to help with things like scholarships. We can have 11 scholarships, but we don’t have nearly that much right now.”
Creel was Ingle’s coach at North Whitfield High. Now he’s the leader of his club.
“We have close to half (of 100) right now,” Creel said.
Ingle, who played at Dalton Junior College from 1971 to 1973 and coached Kennesaw State to an NCAA Division II national championship in 2004, gave the night’s big speech. He preached to those who attended that if they haven’t joined, then they should.
“You’re strength is numbers, and we need numbers,” Ingle said.
One of the group’s main objectives is to raise money for the Roadrunners men’s basketball program in hopes it can grow from its current infant stage to a national championship contender. Another goal is to raise excitement with the inaugural NAIA season looming this fall.
“The way we’ve structured it is all of our programs have the ability to raise money on their own,” Waugh said. “As the leader of the athletic department, I’m all for that. ... We want as many people involved, whether you can give us $10,000 or buy some season tickets and come to some games.”
Ingle, who was welcomed as the head coach five months ago in the same room, introduced his right-hand coaching man and the first three recruits. Jeff Jones, Ingle’s assistant at Kennesaw State and a former head coach at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, will be an assistant coach. Waugh said it is a “temporary position” to help with “recruiting and the transition (to NAIA).”
Ladaris Green, the first athlete signed to play at Dalton State, has been joined by men’s basketball signees Sean Berry and Regan O’Rourke.
Green graduated from Beach High and played for Ingle at Kennesaw State. Berry, from Irvington, N.J., played collegiately at Maryland Eastern Shore. O’Rourke graduated from Florida’s Clearwater High and played collegiately at Jacksonville’s Trinity Baptist College and Daytona State College in Daytona Beach.