As Savannah State University Athletics makes its transition to the second division of college sports, many coaches and student athletes have mixed feelings about the inevitable transition.
Known for his exuberance and optimistic attitude, football Head Coach Shawn Quinn is currently tasked with overseeing the team’s spring preparation for the competitions ahead.
After being asked if his expectations have changed since conducting several training sessions and having to interact with the young men, and also assessing their performance in training, he said, “I’ve always believed in the group a guys, I always felt like we had a chance to be successful…and I still do.”
“The more I am around them, the more I realize we have a great group a guys,” he said.
Quinn said the team has been very active in the university and the wider community, as they have accumulated 1,200 hours of community service as a team.
Quinn’s optimistic side showed up as he looked forward to the new challenges Division II competition will offer.
For those who say Division II is a step down in competition, Quinn responded, “I think it’s a step up for us. It’s the best league for us because now we’re in a league that has great attendance.”
Quinn said the move to Division II should attract more people to the games.
“We’re excited about having great crowds, great venues…and playing home a bunch,” he said.
For head men’s and women’s golf coach Art Gelow, known for his “old-school” approach style to coaching, the upcoming change is difficult.
“I am very, very disappointed that we are going to D2,” Gelow said, “I don’t hide my disgust with it.”
Gelow said he believes this move to Division II was a decision made by the Georgia Board of Regents to diminish Savannah State Athletics. Gelow says the transition won’t change the team’s push past the “unprecedented” 17 championships it has amassed since being added to the Athletics roster.
Horace Broadnax, men’s basketball head coach, had mixed opinions of the change. He said moving to Division II would make it harder to attract students looking for scholarships.
“Division I has 13 (scholarships) and Division II has 10 (scholarships), so unfortunately, some cuts are going to be made,” Broadnax said. “We’re going to have to come together as a staff to allocate the funds necessary to give our next crop of recruits a chance of playing for Savannah State.”
Despite the notion that Division II teams will be easier competition, Broadnax says many competitors bring tough and exciting games to the court.
Broadnax said, “We have to think as a team, this is not an individual agenda. and there are many obstacles in the SIAC that we know we can overcome.”
Coach Roselidah Obuwaga, newly charged with leading the SSU volleyball team in an interim role, is looking forward to the challenge of overseeing this team.
She said she expects to “focus also on recruiting new players, as there is a possibility that some players may not be returning for next season.”
“Regrouping is another thing that we need to focus on, because as we are about to step down to D2, many teams are preparing for us because they have that mindset we are a former Division I school.”
Obuwaga’s intentions are bold and sincere. As a former player herself, she is aware of the challenges that will eventually arise as the team undergoes training sessions, especially when the season gets underway.
Obuwaga comes to Savannah State with years of experience, not only as a player, but as a former Coach of Montana State University and Stephens College. She is also a former Olympic athlete, as she represented Kenya in the Athens and Sydney Olympics.