September 18, 2013

Pack the gym for historic match

From the start of his tenure as Dalton State College’s athletic director, Derek Waugh has made the union of town and gown a priority. He believes the college — and specifically, its athletic program — needs the support of the community and vice versa, and he has made it clear he doesn’t want it any other way.

That’s not just because Waugh thinks it’s nice for the Roadrunners to have a good relationship with their fans, although that’s certainly important to him. When Waugh accepted the task of rebuilding a long-dormant athletic program in the midst of a less than stellar economic time, he understood it would take resources beyond those on campus to make the Roadrunners a reality in a short time.

Thanks to help from sources both private (such as the John Willis Mashburn Charitable Trust’s donation of $300,000 for athletic scholarships) and public (the use of the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department’s Lakeshore Park tennis facilities), Dalton State student-athletes are competing this school year, less than two years after Waugh was hired.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, another example of that college-community partnership will be showcased as Dalton State’s women’s volleyball program becomes the first team in the new era of Roadrunners athletics to host a home match. While the team will eventually play at Bandy Gymnasium on the Dalton State campus when its renovations are complete, they’ll face Truett-McConnell College at the Dalton High School gym for this historic match.

It’s perhaps the best chance yet for the community to show its support for Dalton State athletics, and it’s one case where you’ll need only your presence and your voice to let the Roadrunners know you’re behind them. (There’s no charge for admission.)

For Waugh and the Roadrunners, the campus border isn’t a division line but a place where community and college merge into one another. If both sides continue to see the benefits such a situation offers, that can continue to be a good thing.

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