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Taking Flight: MC Athletes Now Compete At The Nation’s Highest JUCO Level

After a storied, championship-laden history as a National Junior College Athletic Association Division III athletic program, Montgomery College is competing this fall at the Division I and Division II levels.

The MC teams elevating to the Division I level are men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s outdoor track and field, and women’s outdoor track and field. The Montgomery College volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, and softball teams will compete in NJCAA Division II.

Alex Villatoro against Allegany College of MD in a 22-1 Raptors win

“Montgomery College and the NJCAA are committed to providing quality athletic opportunities to enhance the entire collegiate learning experience for its student-athletes,” said Montgomery College Athletic Director Tarlouh Gasque, also the head women’s basketball coach. “The student-athletes are excited. They want to compete with the best teams in the region and in the nation. It’s also an exciting time for future Raptors in our local high schools looking to compete in the top tiers of collegiate sports.”

The Raptors will remain in Region XX and continue to compete against state rivals in the Maryland JUCO Athletic Conference. With more than 150 student-athletes competing in nine sports, 25 student-athletes transferred last year to four-year institutions to continue their academic and athletic endeavors.

Stepping up to a higher division forces you to raise your game beyond the field and into your daily life

Michael Lake, a Montgomery Blair graduate in his first year on the men’s soccer team, sees the elevation of the program as much more than just an uptick in athletic competition.

According to the National Junior College Athletic Association, Division I sports may grant full athletic scholarships (tuition, books, fees, room and board), up to $250 in course required supplies and transportation costs one time per academic year, to and from the college by direct route. Division II sports may grant athletic scholarships, but scholarships are limited to tuition, books, fees and up to $250 in course required supplies. Each sport has limits on the number of scholarships that can be granted.

Imani Costly jumps competing in the triple-jump at JHU/Loyola Invitational

“Stepping up to a higher division forces you to raise your game beyond the field and into your daily life… Your nutrition, your mental and physical fitness, practicing with game-level intensity, it’s all a part of bringing the best out of a student-athlete at MC,” said Lake, a computer science major. “Ultimately, we have to maintain our GPAs because without taking care of our responsibility in the classroom, we’re letting our team down and we’re letting ourselves down… But this is a challenge we’re thrilled to face.”

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