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Metro Detroit

February 26, 2014

Two local colleges slated to add a new sports team to respective athletic departments

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

Changes are coming for the athletic departments at Marygrove College and Wayne State University, as both are set to add a new sports team.

Marygrove plans to add a baseball squad in the 2014-15 academic year, while women’s golf is slated to be added to Wayne State athletics in the fall of 2014.

According to a release from Marygrove, “hiring a head coach will be the first step in getting the program off the ground.” The addition of a baseball team will give Marygrove 14 intercollegiate varsity sports.

While Marygrove won’t officially start recruiting until a coach is hired, Tim Johnston, Marygrove’s assistant athletic director-media relations & events, said there has been a “ton of interest” from student-athletes and potential coaching candidates, as there is a recruiting form on the school’s athletic website. The plan is for the Mustangs to begin officially competing in the spring of 2015, with the potential of having up to 30 players on the roster.

“We’re beyond elated for the opportunity to have another presence for collegiate baseball in the city of Detroit and the southeast Michigan region,” Johnston said. “This is something where I feel Marygrove baseball could be something that develops into a well-known program in the area. I think a short-term goal — just getting those first few players in the program. They would be ambassadors.”

Although Johnston said athletics began at Marygrove in 2001, it wasn’t until 2009 when many of the sports were implemented. While the process is nothing new to Johnston, there has been something different about the decision to add a baseball team.

“I’ve been here six years and haven’t seen anything like it, as far as the early interest,” he said. “When I got here, we only had men’s and women’s basketball, so I’m no stranger to being around the buzz of new programs. This sport has by far exceeded anything, as far as the buzz it’s generated, both on campus and throughout the southeast Michigan community.

“There’s potential coaches lining up — some that come with a great background that are very interested in being a part of this, because they know being in this area, with all the talented student-athletes that are around our region, this could be a quick build. It could be a very competitive and respected program.”

Aside from hiring a coach, Johnston cited finding a field to play at and spreading the news about the addition of a baseball program at Marygrove as some of the other short-term goals.

While Marygrove’s top priority may be to hire a coach, Wayne State didn’t have to look too far for an ideal candidate to coach the women’s golf squad, as current men’s coach Mike Horn will assume that role.

Horn has been at the helm of the men’s team since 2000 and has helped lead the Warriors to NCAA Division II tournament appearances nine out of the last 10 years. Wayne State has also finished in the top 15 in the country twice (2009 and 2010),

That kind of success could help to act as an effective recruiting tool, as at press time the Warriors had four verbal commitments out of seven girls who were targeted. Wayne State may have as many as seven on the roster by the time its inaugural season begins.

While starting a new program may come with challenges, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too.

“It’s really a cool opportunity to do something from scratch,” Horn said. “This is pretty neat to start from the ground up. We found some young ladies already that are pretty dedicated, I think, so that’s pretty exciting to see how they mature. We’re real excited about having those young ladies. They’re good students, good young ladies and good golfers already. I think a couple can really turn out to be special, depending on how hard they work.”

Although he didn’t start a men’s team from scratch, helping to turn that program around and being at the helm of the newly formed women’s team may turn out to be a very similar role for Horn.

“Really optimistic,” he said. “I think we can build the same thing we’ve got on the men’s side. I’m very optimistic within three to five years we can have that established.”

Marygrove is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). Wayne State competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

Student-athletes interested in Marygrove’s baseball program can visit marygrovemustangs.com for more information, while those who would like to inquire about Wayne State’s women’s golf program can visit wsuathletics.com or can call Horn at (313) 399-3560

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.