Whatever number Dalton State College athletic director Derek Waugh hoped for in regards to season tickets sold prior to next month’s first home game for the school’s men’s basketball team, the one he got was bigger.
Waugh called the 720 season tickets already sold “a fantastic number” and indicative of a high interest among the community for the Roadrunners’ first season in more than three decades. Dalton State tips off the regular season Wednesday, Oct. 30 at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and will play its first home game Thursday, Nov. 7 at the trade center against Hiwassee College of Madisonville, Tenn.
About 1,950 fans can fill the trade center, Waugh estimated, and the 720 season ticket holders plus the tickets allocated each game to charities and alumni takes care of nearly half the potential seats.
“If you look around at a lot of college basketball programs,” Waugh said, “they’d give their left arm to be half full before the season starts and that doesn’t include any students, faculty or staff.”
Dalton State gained membership to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics this summer but will compete without conference affiliation in any sport for the 2013-2014 school year. The last time a college basketball team represented the school, it was still known as Dalton Junior College.
Waugh was the men’s basketball coach at Stetson University, a Division I program in the Atlantic Sun Conference, for 11 seasons and served as assistant athletic director for one year prior to accepting his current position leading Dalton State’s relaunched athletics department.
He said the Roadrunners’ season ticket sales are better than Stetson and many of the school’s conference rivals.
“The most we ever did at Stetson — and we were near the top of our league in attendance — was 400,” Waugh said.
Roadrunners coach Tony Ingle, who formerly led Division I program Kennesaw State, has also been pleasantly surprised.
“My hat goes off to Derek Waugh and our booster club, which got things started,” he said. “We’ve got 100-something people in our booster club, so I really believe in giving credit where credit is due.”
Prior to the season beginning, the Roadrunners will host the “Silver and Blue Scrimmage” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Dalton High School. Admission is free and there will be an autograph session after the event.
“It’s a way to put us in front of the public and let us practice,” Ingle said. “It’s going to be a serious night in one regard, because we’ve been practicing hard and need to put some closure to the preseason practicing.
“At the same time, I want it to be fun. I want the players to take it serious, but I don’t want them to panic. If the players are excited, enthusiastic and having fun, then the fans will have fun.”
The roster includes 15 players, including 2010 Dalton High School graduate Caz Cole. During the scrimmage, assistant coach John Redman will lead one side along with Ingle’s former high school coaches from North Whitfield, Brady Creel and Gary Cochran. Tony Ingle Jr., Ingle’s son and a volunteer assistant coach for Dalton State, will join former Dalton Junior College head coach Melvyn Ottinger and his former assistant, Dick Coleman, as the other team’s coaches.
Season tickets are currently being printed at the trade center and soon will be available for pickup. Others still can buy season tickets or individual game tickets by calling the trade center box office at (706) 272-7676.