By Anthony Scalise
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – On Feb. 23, the Camden County College wrestling team posted a video to the college’s Facebook page asking for donations to help support the team’s journey to the national championships in Iowa.
“Everybody’s on a tight budget as far as making sure that we financially are savvy in doing what we do,” said CCC Athletic Director William Banks. The video was a fundraising tactic used by the team to help raise extra money, but Banks made it clear the college did take care of the expenses in sending the team to the national championships.
Both Banks and head coach Gary Papa said the purpose behind the fundraiser was to benefit the program. Papa, citing costs of paying officials at home matches, tournament entry fees, equipment, uniforms and facility upgrades, said, “I feel as a coach, at a public institution, it’s my obligation to help raise some of the funds to help support our program.” Papa indicated he got the idea for the video from Rob Koll, a friend of his and the head wrestling coach at Cornell University.
Papa said he believes the wrestling program will continue to improve as time moves on. Papa did express one concern, saying the college should do a better job of marketing the school’s website. “I think this thing needs to look like a Hollywood production,” he said, noting he feels many prospective students, whether they have academic or athletic interests, will first look at the school’s website if they are interested in coming to the college.
The CCC wrestling program sent a full 10-man roster to the national championships this season. Of those 10 wrestlers, four placed in the top eight of their respective weight classes in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Mike Morris at 174 pounds and Daishi Goto at 184 pounds finished fifth. Dymere Rappa at 197 pounds finished third while heavyweight Tom Halecki finished seventh.
Rappa has competed in the national championships two years in a row. “The experience was incredible,” he said. “We put in a lot of hard work and time to be the best throughout the year. It hurt losing this year to someone that I beat last year but overall I loved wrestling at Camden County.”
Banks said he wants student athletes, such as Rappa, to succeed not only in sports but in the classroom as well.
“We are a stepping stone for our current and future student athletes to better themselves and move on to four-year institutions. I mark my success on our kids graduating and moving on to a four-year school and that’s what’s important to me,” said Banks.