In the fall of 1946 the newly elected Navarro Junior College Board of Trustees faced an enormous challenge as they and the administration prepared to launch the institution. Their desire was to provide a “real college” with offerings students would find at other colleges. Among the items under consideration was an athletic program. Because of the costs involved, the Board initially planned to delay starting a sports program. However, most of the incoming male students had been active in high school sports and expressed an interest in participating in athletics at NJC. This prompted the Board to implement the program the first year.
Ken Clark, a three-sport letterman at Baylor, was hired to coach both the football and basketball teams—the only coach employed during the first year. Because the young men were eager to play, Coach Clark had little trouble recruiting a team. He had no scholarships to offer, however, many of the players were employed on campus working in the library, cleaning classrooms, or performing maintenance on the buildings and grounds. Given the short preparation time and the lack of equipment (the last shipment of shoes arrived the day before the first game), expectations for the season opener were not especially high. But the Bulldogs scored an impressive victory in their opening game with Texas Lutheran College in Seguin, the first of many Bulldog victories over the next seven decades.
When basketball season rolled around, Coach Clark once again had to be creative, as there was no gymnasium on campus. The team practiced at the YMCA and played home games at various high school gyms in the area. Again, Coach Clark led the team to a successful season.
From that humble beginning, Navarro athletic teams became perennial powers, with both women’s and men’s squads consistently ranked among the top teams in the nation. The 2010-11 academic year was unprecedented for two-year college athletics. That year Navarro claimed national championships in football, baseball, and cheerleading, earning the title “College of Champions.” Navarro athletes are heavily recruited by major universities and a number of graduates played professionally. The decision of the Board of Trustees in 1946 to launch an athletic program evolved into a prominent component of Navarro’s history and culture.
SOURCE: Corsicana Daily Sun