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Augustana adds two varsity sports

Augustana announced on Tuesday the college would be adding two varsity sports to the roster: men’s volleyball and women’s bowling.

The two new sports bring the total number of varsity-sponsored sports at Augustana to 25.

Athletic Director Mike Zapolski said the first step on the administration’s agenda to build the sports is to hire prospective coaches. He said job announcements have been posted.

Zapolski and the administration hope to have the position’s for  the coaches officially begin on July 1.

After a coach is chosen for the teams, the 2016-17 academic year will be a year for the coaches to recruit potential Augustana athletes.

Zapolski said the reason why the administration is giving the teams time to recruit is so the coaches have time to build a competitive team.

He said part of the reasoning behind adding men’s volleyball and women’s bowling was to bolster enrollment.

“(Men’s volleyball) is also sponsored as a high school sport in the Chicago area, particularly in the West and Northwest suburbs where we draw a lot of students,” Zapolski said. “But it’s also popular outWest and the college is really trying to make a concerted effort to recruit in other areas geographically.”

Another reason for the administration is the local competition.

“There are some schools in the Midwest that sponsor bowling,” Zapolski said. “On the men’s side with volleyball, volleyball was kind of the natural one because in the Midwest, there’s actually a conference that has 14 Division III schools. There are some schools in our parent conference (North Central and Carthage) that have men’s volleyball. Within a very close footprint of the college, there are lots of opportunities to play.”

Men’s volleyball will start as independent but will apply for membership in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League. Women’s bowling will also compete as independent.

Also during the 2016-17 academic year, the women’s bowling coaches will have to find a place to compete.

“We’ll meet with different facilities in the Quad Cities and make and appropriate decision,” Zapolski said. “I don’t think that it will be problematic, but there are some details to work through.

He said men’s volleyball and women’s bowling look to begin competing in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Zapolski said more sports could be added in the future, but it “might just depend on how this particular launch goes.”

“Any additional sports above and beyond the ones that we are talking about would require some very significant financial enhancements by the college from a facility standpoint,” Zapolski said.