Do Community Colleges Have Sports?

This in-depth guide shows you the benefits of playing sports at community college as well as what sports you can play to get scholarships.
Around half of all community colleges offer some sports programs. Planning to go pro? This complete guide on sports at community colleges will help you get started with your ambition.
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More and more community colleges now offer sports yet most people think that they either don’t have any sports programs or that they are not at par with universities. 

This is primarily because when community colleges were first introduced to the American education system they focused only on academics. The reason for doing so was to help the communities around them by making education more accessible. 

Over the years, however, community colleges have begun to offer a more complete college experience to their students and this has fueled the growth of their sports programs. 

Just like the NCAA, the national body that manages athletics for universities and private colleges, the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) has grown by leaps and bounds to prepare many players for professional American sports.

Can anyone play sports in community college? 

Yes, whether you have the ambition to go pro or just want to play with your friends for fun, this comprehensive guide will not only show you what sports are being played, which colleges offer which sports, but also the specific benefits of playing these sports at the community college level.

So let’s get you ready for your favorite sport!

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Do community colleges really have good sports programs?

Yes, over the years, those community colleges that offer sports programs have become very competitive. Scouts, both from universities and pro leagues, regularly recruit from community colleges as it has become a great source of talent for them.

With over 60,000 student-athletes from more than 500 member colleges competing in 27 different sports, NJCAA (the governing body of sports at the community college level) has become the second-largest national intercollegiate sports organization. It is now second only to the NCAA.

Not only that, the NJCAA hosts 52 national-level championship events every year offering a huge opportunity to community college students. There are in fact, many reasons why athletes specifically choose to go play JuCo sports (Junior College or Community College Sports). 

College Student athlete
Photo by Freepik

Why play sports at community college?

You might be asking yourself, why someone would want to go to a community college sports program especially if they want to go pro… well, many students do that on purpose because they are not ready for a university-level game.

You might not have the GPA, you might not be fully developed as an athlete to compete at the university level or you might simply not be able to afford university financially. 

For all the above reasons, if it weren’t for community colleges, opportunities would have become very limited for thousands of student-athletes. 

With the option to play for a 2-year college, improve upon your weaknesses and then transfer to a university you can jump back into the game.

If you want to know how easy it is to get into community college then read this great article.

Community college-level athletics programs do not compromise that much on the quality of coaching. The competition they get playing in their divisions is also tough, so you are not always losing out much by playing for these colleges as some people might think.

Now, let’s look at some key benefits of playing sports at a community college

You actually get to play more

Since community colleges are two-year programs to start with, student-athletes there jump in right away and get to play their favorite sport very early on. 

Playing for NCAA Division I and II at a university, on the other hand, students start by spending more time on the bench than playing the game. 

Due to the highly competitive nature of university-level sports, many athletes in universities mostly get to watch juniors and seniors play the game from the benches for most of the first two years. 

Their peers at community college in the meantime are getting the much-needed experience that they are looking for from the start of the program.

Removing obstacles to playing in bigger leagues

GPA often becomes a barrier to playing university-level sports and opting for community college gets you a second chance to improve upon it.

 Here is a successful strategy if you are struggling with your GPA:

  • STEP 1: Get admissions in a two-year community college to get an associate’s degree because it is easier to do so. 
  • STEP 2: Start playing for NJCAA Divisions. What GPA do you need to play JUCO sports? Well, community colleges will let you play even with a 2.0 GPA because that is the requirement for NJCAA Division I and II (Don’t worry, we have an entire section dedicated to NJCAA below).
  • STEP 3: Once you are in community college you can work hard and improve your GPA. Aim to graduate the two-year associate’s degree with your target GPA. Universities require you to have at least a 2.3 GPA to play in NCAA Division I and a 2.2 GPA for Division II. 
  • STEP 4: Once you finish your community college, apply for a transfer to a four-year university of your choice. They will now be willing to consider you with your improved GPA.
  • Step 5: As a bonus, while at community college you can also work on improving upon your athletic weaknesses and develop into a more well-rounded athlete. This is in fact, part of the strategy for many students planning to transfer to university sports and eventually go pro.

On a separate note, a lot of athletes also ask us how many credits do you need to play sports in community college? Well, you must have passed 12 credit hours with a 2.0 GPA in the previous full-time term, or have a total accumulation of 12 credit hours for each previous full-time term with a 2.0 GPA or higher.

A student  athlete
Photo by jcomp from Freepik

Transferring to a university

Improving your GPA while at community college gives you a shot at transferring to a university of your choice after two years. 

While players can and do go pro directly from community colleges, some players feel transferring to a university and playing two more years of varsity-level sport makes them better at their game and improves recruitment opportunities by professional leagues.

If you are planning to transfer then this in-depth guide on transferring from community college to university will help a lot.

Scholarship opportunities

It is easier to get scholarships, grants, or financial aid at community colleges.

You should also note that community college athletes get scholarships more often than university athletes do because community colleges are by their very nature set up to help students who are deprived of opportunities.

Considering that community colleges are more affordable to start with, this is probably good news to you. The average tuition at a community college is around $3,440, while that for a private university is around $32,410. 

Here is a great article on free community colleges just to give you an idea of their affordability.

So, not only are you going to save a lot of money by going to community college, you might actually be getting paid to play the sport you love.

This great article explains why 5.4 million Americans opt for community college because of the many other benefits they offer.

What sports can you play at community college?

While you can play anything from Division level football to Ultimate Frisbee as a sport at community colleges, you are unlikely to land a scholarship unless you are playing one of the approved sports by the NJCAA.

Different community colleges offer different sports and you should check with the community college you plan to attend to see if they have the sport of your choice. 

Another related question we get frequently asked is, “Can you join college sports with no experience?” 

Yes, actually. Getting into community college to play a sport is not that difficult at all even if you have not played that sport at high school. However, if you want to play Division level you will have to work hard and show your potential very quickly.

The list of sports offered to men and women by the National Junior College Athletic Association is as follows:

Men

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

Women

  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cross Country
  • Equestrian
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

Everything you need to know about the NJCAA

Since NJCAA plays such a vital role at community college level sports we have put together a small guide on the association itself.

Established in 1938, the National Junior College Athletic Association is the governing body for all community college, state college, and junior college athletics in the United States.

The NJCAA does not have a junior college eligibility clock as most other intercollegiate organizations do. It also does not have an age limit.

NJCAA Regions

Offering three competitive divisions, it holds 24 regions across as many states. Here are the 24 regions:

  • Region 1 Arizona
  • Region 2 Arkansas and Oklahoma
  • Region 3 Upper New York State
  • Region 4 Upper Illinois and Southern Wisconsin
  • Region 5 New Mexico and Western Texas
  • Region 6 Kansas
  • Region 7 Tennessee
  • Region 8 Florida
  • Region 9 Colorado east of the Continental Divide, Eastern Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming
  • Region 10 North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and South West Virginia
  • Region 11 Iowa and Northeast Nebraska
  • Region 12 Indiana, Lower Michigan and Ohio
  • Region 13 Minnesota, North Dakota, Upper Michigan Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin
  • Region 14 Eastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana
  • Region 15 Lower New York
  • Region 16 Missouri
  • Region 17 Georgia
  • Region 18 Colorado west of the Continental Divide, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Western Montana and Utah
  • Region 19 Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey
  • Region 20 Maryland, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Panhandle
  • Region 21 Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
  • Region 22 Alabama
  • Region 23 Mississippi and Louisiana
  • Region 24 Lower Illinois 

NJCAA financial aid by divisions

The NJCAA is divided into three separate competitive divisions each offering a different level of financial support


Table of NJCAA Financial Aid by Divisions
Table of NJCAA Financial Aid by Divisions

NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division I

Colleges offering Division I in specific sports can be found here.

Table of NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division I
Table of NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division I


NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division II

Colleges offering Division II in specific sports can be found here.

NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division II
NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division II


NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division III

Colleges offering Division III in specific sports can be found here.

NJCAA sports and community colleges for Division III


Final word

More and more community colleges are offering sports than ever before. NJCAA, the governing body for athletics has further fueled the development of sports at the community college level. 

Many students even opt to go to community college because they want to use the opportunity to improve grades or athletic ability before they transfer to more competitive leagues at the university level.

In this detailed guide, we have shown you in detail, the benefits of playing sports at community colleges, which sports are available in which division, and the colleges offering those sports. The only thing that remains is for you to apply to your community college of choice and start playing. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do community colleges have sports?

Do community colleges have football teams?

How many credits do you need to play sports in community college?

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