Nationally ranked FDTC athletics program finally gets its own fields
By Melissa Rollins, Editor, email@example.com
Florence-Darlington Technical College has a strong athletic program. Soon, they will have a sports complex to support that program.
Last month, ground was broken on a baseball/softball facility. Preston McDonald, FDTC Athletic Director and head baseball coach, said that this facility has been discussed for a while.
“This has been talked about for years and we feel like finally having something on campus will level the field as far as recruitment goes,” McDonald said. “Our vision for our baseball and softball programs is to compete nationally. When you compare facilities at some of the other places around the country, compared to the situation we are in currently, we are a little bit behind.”
McDonald said that currently, FDTC has no sports facilities on their campus.
“Right now, we practice and play at Francis Marion,” McDonald said. “They are great hosts and they treat us well. At the same time, it is going to be nice to have a place on campus where we can just get out of class and go rather than having to drive to Francis Marion every day. It is exciting.”
As for recruiting, McDonald said that he knows that Tech has lost out on some players because of the lack of on-campus fields.
“We have lost out on players before because we didn’t have any facilities,” McDonald said. “We have had some players from out of state, even some who were in-state, who chose to go somewhere else simply because we didn’t have a field on campus and they had to drive to Francis Marion everyday. We also don’t have dorms, we have off-campus housing but I don’t think that is as big a deal as having your own facility on campus. I think this will be big for us moving forward.”
The past two seasons have been especially fruitful for FDTC athletics.
“The softball team went to the World Series in 2016,” McDonald said. “The baseball team went to the World Series in 2017. In 2012, we were ranked number 4 in the country. That is when people started to take notice. We have been really successful programs without even having our own facilities on campus so we feel like the best is yet to come. The programs are going to continue to grow and become national powerhouses.”
The design of the facilities took into account several items that the coaches believed were important.
“Coach Heber Watson and I both had some say in what we wanted,” McDonald said. “Obviously there is a budget in place so you don’t want to ask for too much. At the same time, there are some things that we noticed that we both needed like storage space. The direction of the field, the way it is facing, the cages in between the fields, those are important. We wanted enough space to where baseball and softball could utilize them at the same time if needed. Obviously there was a lot that went into it. The people who designed everything did a great job and we have gotten a lot of support. It is an exciting time to be a part of Florence-Darlington Tech.”
As with many projects, the funds drive the work.
“We’ve gotten private donations, actually, and that has been what has really made this go,” McDonald said. “It is just exciting because people have been talking about doing it but until they put a shovel in the ground it is just talk. They are back there now working on it now so hopefully we will be in it soon.”