by Lisa Proulx
PORTSMOUTH – The Seacoast United youth sports program and Great Bay Community College are working together in an evolving new partnership to strengthen both organizations by expanding their reach and depth.
Seacoast United, which serves about 10,000 kids across New Hampshire and parts of Maine and Massachusetts, is helping the community college expand its sports offerings, both on the field and in the classroom. In turn, Great Bay will help train the next generation of administrators and visionaries who will help Seacoast United expand and grow.
Seacoast United began its youth sports program 25 years ago, offering soccer in a patch of grass at the former Pease Air National Guard base. “In terms of the synergy between the two organizations, it feels very fitting that we are going back to where we started a stone’s throw away from the Great Bay campus,” said James Peterson, director of sales and marketing for Seacoast United Sports Club.
Since those early days at Pease, Seacoast United has expanded to 11 indoor and outdoor sports facilities in three states, with club teams in baseball, softball and field hockey in addition to soccer. It operates the largest youth baseball program in northern New England.
The early seeds of the partnership between Seacoast United and Great Bay were sown two years ago, when Great Bay President Wildolfo Arvelo and Associate Vice President, Michael Fischer approached Seacoast United about helping the college establish an athletic program.
“We have a lot of relationships with high schools and academies, but not with colleges or universities,” Peterson said. “We work with nearly every college in New England in terms of recruitment of our players, but it was never multi-faceted to where we are working together on other initiatives.”
With Seacoast United helping with coaching and recruiting players, Great Bay began competing in the fall league of the Yankee Small College Conference this year. Seacoast United also is working with Great Bay to establish its new curriculum in sports management.
Peterson was impressed with Great Bay as soon as he visited the school. “The first time I stepped on the campus, I was blown away by the gym and the athletic facilities,” he said. “When we walked around the campus and saw the gym, we knew that their beliefs and values and their roll-up-your-sleeves attitude aligned with our philosophy.”
According to Fischer, initial ideas for collaboration have included overall sponsorship and support of each entity at their location as well as having Seacoast United (SU) be a guest speaker in GBCC’s new Sports Management program. “Our Sports Management will also provide interns employees to Seacoast United.” According to Peterson those opportunities, will include Baseball/Softball Social Media interns, Seacoast United “Street Team” interns to help build awareness as well as openings to learn facilities management, event management, and offer assistance in their accounting department.
Seacoast United employs 60 people full time, and with 11 athletic facilities across the region it has a continuing need for qualified employees, Peterson said. The Great Bay sports management program will help fill those needs by training students for careers in sports management, including finance, facility maintenance, league administration and other aspects. Great Bay is offering the 21-credit program as part of the college’s business administration associate’s degree program.
The curriculum will include an Introductory course to define the scope of the subject, a course in facilities management, sports and recreation tourism, sports in society and an internship component. Among other topics, students will learn how athletic facilities run efficiently.
“Sports Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry” said Dawn Comito Hospitality Management Chair at Great Bay. “And, it’s one that you may not think of until you consider how often we travel to a destination to attend or participate in a sporting event. This is also why we’ve created the new Hospitality course called Sports & Recreation Tourism, which serves as new elective option for the Sports Management program.”
“As an organization, we check every single box in terms of what they are offering,” Peterson said. “We have a finance department, we have 11 facilities, we run 20 tournaments over the course of a year, and we need people to help facilitate those events.” Comito agrees, “For any students with an interest in event planning and sports, these opportunities are a win-win.”
For Great Bay, the partnership also enables the school to reach potential students. “There are a number of possibilities,” said Fischer. “We are looking forward to developing our partnership with Seacoast over the coming months and years.”
Great Bay Community College is a comprehensive postsecondary institution offering quality academic, professional and technical education in support of workforce development and lifelong learning. Great Bay Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, a public system of higher education consisting of seven colleges in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth. The colleges offer Associate degrees and career training in technical, professional and general fields, including transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees. The college’s second campus, the Advanced Technology & Academic Center is open in Rochester offering academic courses and a degree program in Advanced Composites Manufacturing. For more information on Great Bay Community College, visit www.greatbay.edu.