VIDEO: Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Dr. Jim Richey Establishes EFSC As Athletic Juggernaut
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // April 28, 2016
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Jim Richey recognized a need on the Space Coast when he was named president of Eastern Florida State College in 2012. The college’s 11 varsity programs are the most in the 24-member Florida College System Activities Association. Many of the teams are nationally ranked with the women’s soccer team twice playing for the NJCAA national championship.
2016 SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE
• EFSC 11 Varsity Programs
• Athletic Complex Development
• Orlando City SC Partnership
SOCCER IS ‘BIG DEAL’
Dr. Jim Richey recognized a need on the Space Coast when he was named president of Eastern Florida State College in 2012.
“I knew that Brevard County loved sports across the board,” he said. “I knew also that soccer was a very big deal in this area, so adding a soccer program was a high priority.”
Richey added varsity programs in men’s and women’s soccer at EFSC, as well as men’s and women’s tennis and women’s golf.
The college’s 11 varsity programs are the most in the 24-member Florida College System Activities Association. Many of the teams are nationally ranked with the women’s soccer team twice playing for the NJCAA national championship.
A number of games are broadcast live on WEFS-TV to sports fans across Central Florida and streamed nationally via webcast on the college’s sports website.
“That TV station hits 11 counties and 3.2 million people potentially,” Richey said. “It’s great for the Titan brand, for the institution to fully utilize a really good product – our teams and great facilities – with a professional TV station.”
The popularity of the soccer programs also created another need: A place to play instead of sharing space at the Brevard County Parks and Recreation complex in Viera.
“We knew we really needed a home,” Richey said.
So, he constructed an athletic complex on the Melbourne campus with new or upgraded facilities for soccer, tennis, softball, baseball, basketball and volleyball.
EFSC PITCH BEST IN FLORIDA
The Titan Soccer Complex has hosted NJCAA national tournaments and Florida high school state championships that have pumped millions of dollars into the local economy through visitor spending.
Perhaps his biggest sports-related achievement is a partnership with the Orlando City Soccer Club to base its United Soccer League team – called Orlando City B – at the Titan Soccer Complex.
“Because we built such a great, great stadium – the pitch itself is one of the best, certainly in Florida if not in the Southeast United States,” Richey said. “(Orlando City) somehow got wind of that.”
He said when Orlando City President Phil Rawlins first saw the field, “his jaw dropped.”
An analysis prepared for Brevard County’s Office of Tourism indicated the USL team’s games and related soccer events will provide an estimated $2.16 million annual economic boost to the Space Coast economy.
That includes about 21,600 nights of room rentals a year for local hotels, including lodging for visiting teams and for fans.
SPORTS BROADENS APPEAL
Richey said the added varsity sports broadens the appeal of the college not just to athletes, but other students as well.
“It’s important that when students come to a college or university, they find something that they are interested in,” he said.
“One of those things, of course, is athletics for people to really feel comfortable. If they feel comfortable right from the get-spacego they are much more likely to want to be here, work hard and graduate.”
THE 2016 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 13.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2016 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Induction Dinner, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com
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