JUCO Sports-The Road to Oz

Southern Nevada JUCO World Series; Photographer Mark J. Rebilas

JUCO Sports-The Road to Oz


I see some movie remakes are coming out. One a fantastic Hansel and Gretel, another is Jack and the Beanstalk. The one that caught my eye was “Oz”. So I start thinking-with Hollywood’s literary license-slash-butchery approach, I could write my own version of the 1939 classic, but as a sports movie. It also occurred to me that kids land at Junior Colleges for a variety of reasons, many times in hopes of getting to the next level. Not unlike Dorothy trying to make her way to Oz.

Look for it soon…“JUCO Athletics-A Horse of a Different Color,” subtitled, “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to College Stardom.”


Cast of Characters:

Shelley Winner- Not once in her lifetime is she the best player on the team. A solid softball player, her teams win just about everything, but Shelly flies under the radar. A champion at every level, she reaches the high school state final four. As a straight “A” student, grades are no problem, and the “Dorothy basket” she totes has some competitive fruit in it, but she’s not sure she has much more than two years supply. At the yellow brick crossroad she takes a left and pursues a last minute JUCO offer, ends up winning the State Championship and travels to Utah to the NJCAA Championships. It doesn’t matter too much to her that she is not recruited- she discards her empty basket, transfers to a well-known university and graduates near the top of her class. Who needs Oz? Very nearly missing out on college altogether, hers is a true success story with a ton of trophies and softball stories to tell, and Junior College led her safely through the haunted forest.


Robinson Brooks has everything backwards. His “basket” is a U-Haul so full of desire it has no room for anything else. First one to practice and the last one to leave, he would gladly trade the witch his ruby-studded spikes for a roster spot for the University of South Carolina Roosters. The witch, however, sees he is shorter than Freddie Patek, has the eyesight of Mr. Magoo, and couldn’t hit a curveball with a tennis racquet. He enrolls in Notalent Community College, plays two years, and thinks fondly of the 32 points he scored in a Donkey Basketball fundraiser (because he couldn’t move his ass from under the basket). Oz may as well be Atlantis. Robinson never finds it, but JUCO Athletics served its purpose by keeping Boy Robin in the game he loved so much.


Cindy Lou “Who?”- Cindy’s spinning house actually lands directly in Oz as a basketball Walk-On at a popular mid-major university.  Her basket brimming with promise and possibilities, Cindy is happy- D1 is D1. Sadly, she finds that neither her lofty stats nor skills in Localhero, Midwest can stand up to kids from BigCityVille. A year at a Junior College is “suggested,” and broken hearted Cindy complies. The Flying Monkeys take off with her confidence, and never regaining her footing, she plays a year and collects her A.A. Following the yellow path, she walks back to Kansas. JUCO gets a pass-the system offered an option, it just didn’t lead to the Emerald City.


“Chip” Aarons is a clean cut kid from Rodgersberg, California. Unlike most, his is a satchel full of talent.  A good looking, can’t-miss-success-story-in-waiting, his QB skills light up high school scoreboards and fan faces for four years. As the story unfolds, whoever was supposed to be paying attention fell down in the poppy field and took a nap. No quality offers come in, so Chip sets his jaw, chooses to hit the straight-ahead bricks, and tries to get noticed in Junior College. The poppies apparently still in bloom, he needs intervention help from the Good Witch of the NCAA to get noticed. He has to dodge a few more fireballs, but he throws Gatorade on his detractors and goes on to play for the Pack Bay Greenies, climbing to the top of his frozen field. Without Junior College as an option, only the Wizard knows how Chip’s story would have ended. His is a one-in-a-million tale, so don’t plan on using your JUCO scholarship money on a new house for Auntie Em just yet.


The moral of the movie is that lots of Community College athletes improve their grades and/or skills, and transition to quality educations and athletic success in all NCAA divisions. Others simply extend their athletic careers. The yellow brick road is filled with obstacles, but it can be travelled successfully.

The JUCO works in mysterious ways, but for the most part, it works.

Pay attention to the movie’s theme song while the credits roll-you’ll hear a Rolling Stones cover band with a very heavy English accent singing…“JU-COn’t always get what you want, but if you try two years, you just might hear… we’ve got what you need….”