Miami Dade College has one of the most decorated community college sports programs in the nation.
The volleyball team is a force to be reckoned with. They have won back-to-back national championships and haven’t lost a game since 2016. That is a 44-game winning streak for those keeping count.
Our Lady Sharks softball team won a national title in 2010. The baseball team under the leadership of Danny Price is a perennial 30-game winner.
Miami Dade College has won 33 national titles and 116 state titles since 1964. That is a whole lot of winning.
However, the winning hasn’t been reciprocated with a strong fan base. No matter how well the teams are doing, the attendance at games is lower than the Cleveland Browns winning percentage the past two years.
“We’re working on it,” said MDC Director of Athletics Anthony Fiorenza. “Our coaches go to high schools and market games. High school coaches come to games and bring their teams.”
The poor support hasn’t been because the teams have lacked starpower. Since the programs inception, MDC has been blessed with supreme talent.
Mike Piazza, Raul Ibañez, Bucky Dent and Mickey Rivers all started their careers at MDC before ascending to greatness in Major League Baseball.
We have seen recent success too. Outfielder Brian Goodwin was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Point guard Xavier Munford has played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association. They both played at MDC before making it to the pinnacle of their sport.
So what gives? Why aren’t we supporting our student athletes?
One of the biggest hurdles MDC faces when it comes to attendance at games is that it is a commuter college. We don’t have on-campus housing and the vast majority of our students work; they leave campus after class is over. So, as a result, they aren’t on campus in the evening or on weekends when the majority of the games are played.
The average attendance per game at MDC sporting events is 150 people, according to Fiorenza.
“If we play on a Sunday, which we hardly ever do, we pack the baseball stadium and softball too,” Fiorenza said. “Kids and parents can come on Sundays. We hardly ever play on Sunday because other schools don’t want to.”
As sports editor of The Reporter for the past two years, I have been to my fair share of MDC sporting events. I recall very few games where 150 people were watching.
Miami Dade College also faces the uphill battle of competing for the attention of South Florida’s sports fans, a rabid fan base that has a bevy of options with professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey teams in our backyard. Not to mention that we are competing for attention against wealthier athletic programs such as the University of Miami and Florida International University.
“I think the smaller [the] town you go to that doesn’t have much going for itself except that school, in a town like that, you’ll see more people,” head baseball coach Danny Price said.
However, MDC is a bargain. Unlike UM or FIU, students do not pay an athletic fee. The games are completely free. Who doesn’t enjoy sitting in the front row of a sporting event?
“I honestly dislike how people don’t show love especially when we’re winning and doing well,” said Lady Sharks women’s basketball player Cheah Rael-Whitsitt . “We had way more support and fans in high school.”
While the lack of fan support is upsetting to the players, it hasn’t kept the athletes from performing. Currently, the women’s basketball team is 18-8 and ranked 1st in the Southern Conference.
But you wouldn’t know it—judging by the number of fans in the stands.