2017 Community AwardPresented by Herb Wills, January 14, 2018
From the 1960s through the 1980s, junior college track and field as well as cross-country was part of the running landscape in Florida. Not every two-year school fielded teams, but quite a few did. Some of those teams did quite well on a national level. Some of the athletes went on to distinguish themselves in NCAA competition at four-year schools. Late in the 1900s, though, those programs started to disappear. By early in the 21st century, Florida only had a couple of community colleges with women’s cross-country teams. Men’s cross-country was extinct in the junior colleges. So was track and field.
But women’s cross-country started to make a comeback in the Florida community colleges. Tallahassee Community College joined that comeback in 2016, adding a women’s team. It was the first time in over twenty years that TCC had added a new sport to the school’s athletic program. The Eagles had never had a track or a cross-country team before. But TCC was critical in the revival of women’s cross-country in Florida because they were the fourth school to field a team, and four was the minimum number of teams needed to stage a statewide championship in the sport. The Eagles hosted that championship at Apalachee Regional Park in 2016. The Lady Eagles also went to the NJCAA National Cross-Country Championships for the first time in school history, placing 33rd. A week later they raced the NJCAA Half Marathon National Championship.
In 2017, though, TCC became a real leader of the running renaissance in Florida’s community colleges. During the 2017 season the Eagles added a men’s cross-country team, the first in the state for many years. More schools are expected to follow in 2018, so Tallahassee should see a men’s state championship race at Apalachee Regional Park. TCC also plans to start both a men’s and a women’s track and field team, bringing that sport back to Florida’s community colleges.Because of Tallahassee Community College’s role in promoting community college running in both Tallahassee in particular and Florida in general, TCC is recipient of Gulf Winds Track Club’s 2017 Community Award.