PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) is set to launch its competitive sports programs this fall, including men’s baseball, women’s softball, and Esports during the 2023- 2024 academic year, with men’s and women’s basketball and cheerleading set to begin in late 2024.
SEARK has been officially accepted into the National Junior College Athletic Association, paving the way for its athletes to compete at a high level.
Former Arkansas Tech men’s basketball coach Chad Kline will now be the head coach and athletic director for the SEARK Sharks. He said he aims to create a program that will compete at the NJCAA regional and national levels.
“We expect to win, and we expect to win at a high level,” Kline said.
The Sharks will play their games at the Seabrook YMCA which will soon have a makeover to its gym, and softball and baseball fields.
Yelling “go Sharks,” President of SEARK Steven Bloomberg said athletics will increase enrollment and have a growing economic impact on not just the school, but the community.
He says the economic benefits will come from parents and families of athletes coming to watch from out of town, staying at hotels, spending money on food, etc.
Bloomberg says the driving force for him to incorporate athletics at SEARK was the opportunity to give kids another pathway to success.
“Life is so important when you have options,” Bloomberg said.
SEARK looks to be a partner with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to create a win-win for the city’s athletics.
“If the kid isn’t academically eligible to go to UAPB,” Kline said. “He can graduate from here (SEARK) and then go right across town 10 minutes away.”
Bloomberg said the integration of sports will also allow SEARK to build academic programs like physical therapy and personal training.
“To build a sustainable and competitive athletic program you can’t just rely on institutional dollars,” Bloomberg said.
SEARK received a $250,000 gift from Relyance Bank to go towards the college’s capital campaign to raise $3 million dollars to grow the athletic department.
Bloomberg said he would not be surprised if, within the next 24 to 36 months, SEARK makes the announcement that more NJCAA sports will be added to the college.