Clipped From The Orlando Sentinel
Jemele HILL SENTINEL COLUMNIST B-CC B-CC B-CC softball needs funding to help it thrive It was Maiy McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman Bethune-Cookman Bethune-Cookman College, who said, 'Without faith, nothing is possible. possible. With it, nothing is impossible." Bethune-Cookman's Bethune-Cookman's Bethune-Cookman's softball team probably has heard that quote a million times, but it should be more meaningful to the Wildcats now that the Daytona Beach school's incredible postseason run is over. No team in this year's NCAA softball playoffs had as many far-reaching far-reaching far-reaching accomplishments accomplishments as B-CC. B-CC. B-CC. It won its first NCAA playoff game, first regional and appeared in the super regional for, yes, the first time. It lost to Texas at the super regional in Austin last week, just missing missing out on the College World Series. The Wildcats' grandest achievement was being the first historically black college college or university ever to make it that far in the NCAA playoffs. But if it took this long for B-CC B-CC B-CC to get there, it makes you wonder if it's possible possible for an HBCU to get there routinely orwhetherwejust should accept that these one-time one-time one-time magical runs will happen happen only from time to time. B-CC B-CC B-CC has been a quiet force in the Mid-Eastern Mid-Eastern Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for years, but five straight conference titles can start to lose their value when you keep floundering floundering on the most important stage. "I think it validated a lot for the kids," B-CC B-CC B-CC Coach Laura Watten said. 'Who cares about being MEAC champions when you're regional champions?" B-CC's B-CC's B-CC's run shows both the good and bad of the situation in which most HBCUs find themselves. HBCUs have a hard time competing against the big-name, big-name, big-name, better-funded better-funded better-funded schools. Talent gaps aren't as hard to overcome as financial financial ones. For that reason, HBCUs almost always struggle in the NCAA postseason, if they make it there at all. 'We've always talked about one day being the first historically black college to be in a College World Series," shortstop shortstop Amber Jackson said. "Even though we didn't make it that far, we realize we've made incredible strides for HBCUs." Those strides maybe negated if somebody doesn't start fishing in their pocketbook. There are 105 HBCUs in this country. country. Many are in shaky financial shape, especially their athletic departments. HBCUs still maintain an important function in an integrated society. The schools were created because African-Americans African-Americans African-Americans systemically were denied their rights to an education until desegregation desegregation and the 1964 Civil Rights Acts. That's no longer the case, but asking why they're still necessary is like asking why we have Black History Month. HBCUs were intended to preserve black culture, history and heritage, a key part of our larger American history. Black people aren't the only ones who benefit from HBCUs. Remember, it's historically historically black, not all black. Nearly 1 8 percent of the students at HBCUs are white, meaning the HBCU perspective has broadened with the times. "I've always felt like every single white person needs to walk through this campus," said Watten, who is white. "It's not what you think. It's a very family-oriented, family-oriented, family-oriented, family-oriented, tight-knit tight-knit tight-knit community." It's difficult to determine whether B-CC B-CC B-CC has the resources to stay competitive competitive nationally in softball. The team needs more money. B-CC B-CC B-CC is a private school, so it relies heavily on fund-raising. fund-raising. fund-raising. fund-raising. It raised $ 1 million for a football training center, so someone there must be pretty good at soliciting donations. While softball isn't the moneymak-ing moneymak-ing moneymak-ing entity that football is, an aggressive fund-raising fund-raising fund-raising campaign should be started started forthe Wildcats. Right now, the softball team rents a field from the city for $6,000 a year. Stet- Stet- son only will play B-CC B-CC B-CC during the day because there are too many dead spots on the field at night. The Wildcats don't even have locker rooms. They can't op- op- erate like that forever really not even short term. Who knows how long Watten Watten will be there, given her success. B-CC B-CC B-CC needs to make a permanent investment investment in the program to make it attractive attractive to players and coaches. Maybe Mary McLeod Bethune's quote should be amended. Without money, faith doesn't mean a thing.