The Lower Columbia College athletic department made some NWAC history last school year.
The Red Devils won both the Maury Ray Cup (also called the Athletic Director’s Cup) for program-wide athletic performance for the third straight year — the first school to complete such a feat — as well as the President’s Cup, which honors academic achievement.
In the seven years in the awards’ existence, no school had won both in the same year. Until LCC last year. As a result, LCC Athletic Director Kirc Roland won the Dutch Triebwasser Outstanding College Administrator Award. It’s the second time Roland has received the honor (the other coming in 2003-04), and the fourth time an LCC administrator won it (Gary Earnest, 1991-92 and Carol Carlson, 2010-11).
“I mean a lot to me, but I would also have to say it’s kind of a program award,” Roland said.
Roland fills many roles at LCC. He obviously leads the athletic department, but he also broadcasts baseball and basketball games on the radio, in addition to Kelso prep football games, plus he plans the annual NWAC Baseball Championship and Babe Ruth World Series.
He mentioned Program Manager Traci Hilligoss by name as someone who is instrumental and vital to the success LCC’s programs have enjoyed, which include constant trips to NWAC tournaments and championships. Hilligoss won the Dutch Triebwasser Award in 2006-07 while working at Tacoma CC.
“What we do is to support the student-athletes,” Roland said. “Really, it’s their hard work in the classroom, practice, training and competition. I think that’s where we get this honor.
“To be honest with you, the one person that deserves just as much credit, if not more, is Traci Hilligoss, the program manager at LCC. Like I said in my acceptance speech, I think she’s the true star of the athletic department. She keeps it all together. She really cares for the student-athletes, and has been passionately working on behalf of our program and the NWAC for longer than I have.”
This year is bittersweet, though.
In normal circumstances, there is an opportunity upon learning of the award to go door to door, office to office and celebrate with fellow administrators or coaches or the loose player, complete with smiles and laughs and hugs.
But that isn’t how this year worked out.
“It’s very tough,” Roland said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get through all the protocols to get these kids back on campus and back supporting them fully. That’s the only bummer of getting and award like this, is I can’t person to person. When our athletes get back in the late summer and the fall, I certainly will look forward to that.
“And once everyone gets back, we need to find a better way to use our athletic community here with regard to racism and all the inequities with in our country. And I think we will have an important role to do that.”
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