The misconception that FIT “doesn’t do sports” is finally fading, as the college continues its run of besting its competition across many of the sports in which it participates―tennis, volleyball, cross-country, half-marathon, track and field, and swimming. In fact, FIT went to nationals in each of these sports during the 2014-15 academic year.
While FIT’s sports teams have ranked at the top of the National Junior College Association (NJCAA) Division III for many years, last year the women’s tennis team finished second in the country (the 2015 NJCAA National Champion Runner Up). Taking second place was a step up from their third place finish the previous year. FIT also made the top ten nationally in women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis, women’s cross-country, women’ half-marathon, and volleyball. Additionally, Joseph Plutz, head coach of cross country and half-marathon, was named National Coach of the Year.
“The campus is really starting to take notice, not just of our accomplishments but of athletics in general,” said D.J. Bevivino, FIT’s sports information director.
That acknowledgement has manifested itself not only in school spirit for athletics and increased attendance at sporting events, but also in support of the FIT tiger, the college’s mascot, as well as the amount of traffic coming to the FIT Tigers website, which is dedicated to sports. The site is a key recruitment tool as well as a communication vehicle, with engaging photos, profiles of individual student athletes, and detailed information on the various aspects of FIT’s athletics program. This fall, the naming of the tiger, based on votes cast by the FIT community, further boosted support for, and awareness of, the mascot and sports program. (The tiger’s official name is now Stitch.) He now participates in FIT Tiger Tuesdays, during which the college community is encouraged to take photos with him and post the images to one of the athletic department’s social media platforms, using hashtag #FITTigerNation.
Other exciting developments within the athletics department include live streaming of home volleyball games to the FIT website, as well as giveaways at games to boost attendance.
“The department as a whole is on the rise,” Bevivino said. “The teams are excelling, we have student photographers and writers, a strong social media presence, and we have someone doing video editing. We try to keep a lot of students involved.”