The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The College of San Mateo football program has thrust itself into the conversation of must-see facilities if you are a high school graduate looking to take your game — and your life — to the next level.
Thanks in large part to an administration who places a high value on athletics, the facilities just keep getting better. The latest upgrade was a re-designed and re-vamped weight room specifically for CSM athletes.
“It’s all done well. All top-notch,” said CSM head football coach Bret Pollack. “It’s for athletic training. It’s set up for athletes.”
In the past, Pollack said CSM athletic teams would have to share the weight room with physical education classes. But with the opening of the school’s multi-million dollar fitness center, the school decided to make space for the athletic teams as well.
“[San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor] Ron Galatolo and [CSM President] Mike Claire, both those guys support athletics, believe in athletics,” Pollack said. “They support it with money, time, effort.”
In this day and age when programs are being cut from elementary to the college level, some may wonder why bother with athletics? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to spend the money on something other than a weight room?
That would be a shortsighted view because there are many programs that are dead because of a lack of interest, not a lack of money. In fact, it can be argued, why throw money at something that isn’t successful and build up the programs that are?
Are athletics no less a program at a college of university than drama, astronomy or nursing?
“You water the plants that grow,” Pollack said.
Because, believe it or not, athletics at the junior college level — at good programs — send many student-athletes to four-year schools. In fact, Pollack and the CSM football coaching staff don’t even focus on a player’s eligibility. That’s too shortsighted. The goal of the football program at CSM is to set students up to transfer to four-year schools to complete their college education. Pollack said of 15 players that delayed the start of their football eligibility for a year — gray shirted a year — 14 earned their associates of arts degree and moved on to four-year schools. In all, CSM transferred 24 players from last year’s NorCal championship team on to four-year schools.
“We don’t pay attention to eligibility, we pay attention to transferability. We set the bar higher,” Pollack said. “[We’re] not a football program that transfers players. We’re not a football factory. [We’re] a transfer program that plays football. And it’s a minority transfer program. Eighty percent of guys moving on are minority.”
Pollack said the new facilities have been a boon to recruiting — as has social networking site Facebook. Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch is constantly updating the football team’s Facebook site, letting “friends” know how the team is doing, what alumni are up to, as well show off the school’s facilities.
“Tim Tulloch, he’s our Facebook guru,” Pollack said. “It’s great for recruiting. It keeps people involved.”
Just as good for recruiting has been the Bulldogs’ success on the field. They’ve played in Northern California top conference — the NorCal Conference — since 2004, playing against teams that year in and year out have a legitimate shot at playing for a state championship. Last year, it was CSM’s turn to have a crack at it. They won their first NorCal Conference championship, as well as the Northern California championship, beating Reedley. The Bulldogs made their first appearance in the state title game, dropping a disappointing 7-6 decision to Mt. San Antonio College.
As a program, the Bulldogs have steadily moved onward and upward for the better part of a decade. Now, with an upgrade in facilities, they have even more ammunition to recruit players.
While the program’s core will always be local kids, the word is getting out around the greater Bay Area. At the quarterback position alone, CSM has players from Pacifica, Petaluma, Vallejo and Nevada competing for the starting job.
“[Our recent success] definitely coincided with the facilities improvement, and that’s a big help,” Pollack said. “At the same time, there has been a lot of work in the development of the program. They merged together well at the same time.”
With the stadium and field projects having been completed in the last few years, as well as the baseball and softball facilities, along with the upgrades to the team house, brand-new fitness and world-class aquatic center, along with a re-vamping of the entire campus, CSM has some of the best overall athletic facilities in the state. Pollack said many coaches from smaller four-year schools are in awe when they arrive at the CSM campus.
Because just like any other product, a school has to sell itself to perspective students. And there is plenty to like at CSM.
“It’s not hard to put a bow on a great package,” Pollack said.
High school coaches are encouraged to fax or e-mail your schedules for the fall season, along with rosters, if available. Information can be faxed to 344-5298 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 117.