Column: Riverland strives for successful athletics, too

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 8, 2008

By Terrence Leas, Riverland College

At the writing of this column, the Riverland women&8217;s Blue Devil basketball team&8217;s current record is 13-1, and they have been consistently ranked nationally in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) top 10 among Division III teams. In fact, this year&8217;s women&8217;s team is off to the best start since the 1984-85 team (17-1). Several players have also ranked in the top 20 in many individual categories. Brooke Monson, a freshman from Austin, recently received the southern division &8220;Player of the Week&8221; in the women&8217;s division.

(While the Riverland men are not enjoying similar success this season, Juan Wilborn, a guard from Minneapolis received southern division &8220;Player of the Week&8221; honors in the men&8217;s division.)

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This success is no accident. We have made a conscious effort to improve athletics at Riverland because of the many attendant benefits.

The recent success of the Riverland women&8217;s team draws attention to our athletic programs and the benefits of athletics and other extra-curricular activities in the educational setting.

Riverland is fortunate to have comprehensive extra-curricular programming, including art, athletics, music and theater, student government and a variety of clubs and organizations affiliated with specific career and technical programs.

These extra-curricular activities help prepare future leaders. Take student athletes, for example. Under NJCAA rules, our Division III student athletes do not receive scholarships. They participate because of their passion, competitive spirit and pursuit of excellence. Accordingly, they must use time-management skills to balance practices and games with their class load. Some work jobs in addition to their college activities.

When you consider all their responsibilities, their accomplishments are extraordinary.

Involvement in extra-curricular activities helps students succeed off the court or playing field. It promotes citizenship and sportsmanship and helps build character. Participation and perseverance can nurture a sense of self respect, self confidence and self esteem in the student. It even helps keep them in school:

Riverland statistics for 2001-2006 show that of the students who remain at the college from one fall semester to the next fall semester, 93 percent of them participate in student organizations and activities.

Programs in art, athletics, music and theater draw students to our college and increase enrollment in academic programs. This academic year, we have seen a marked increase in student athletes, fortifying not only our teams but our courses and programs in which they enroll.

Riverland students have many choices in athletics:

men may participate in baseball, basketball and golf. Women may participate in basketball, golf, softball and volleyball.

Our coaching staff includes Suzy Hebrink, women&8217;s basketball coach; Helen Jahr, volleyball coach; Scott Koenigs, baseball coach; Dan Swift, men&8217;s basketball coach; Dave Lillemon, athletic director, men&8217;s and women&8217;s golf, softball coach.

For more information about Riverland athletics and game schedules visit

Riverland&8217;s extra-curricular programs help provide a comprehensive collegiate experience for our students. They also enhance the cultural vitality of the communities we serve. We invite you to attend an art show, a game, a theater performance or a concert and see for yourselves.

Terrence Leas is the president of Riverland Community College.