About The Herkimer Generals Athletic Program
Founded in 1966, Herkimer County Community College is celebrating 50 years of excellence this year. Located in upstate New York, overlooking the picturesque Mohawk Valley, Herkimer College is a two-year unit of the State University of New York, the nation’s largest comprehensive system of public higher education.
With over 40 degree and certificate programs, Herkimer prepares students for continuing their education at four-year schools or for employment in their respective fields. Herkimer’s Internet Academy offers 20 degrees and three certificates entirely online.
Herkimer offers a variety of on-campus housing options, featuring modern apartments and townhouses, and a vibrant student activities calendar. Unlike most community colleges, over two-thirds of the approximately 2,000 on-campus students come from outside Herkimer County. “We are proud to welcome a diverse student population that spans many geographies, time zones, languages, ethnicities, age groups and life experiences,” said Dr. Cathleen C. McColgin, the College’s fourth president who began her tenure in June 2015.
The Herkimer Generals athletic program began with five sports in 1970, under the direction of Tom LaPuma, and has grown to 19 varsity offerings. With its growth has come great success with 53 NJCAA national championships, 111 Region III titles, 153 conference championships and 30 NJCAA Academic Team of the Year awards. The College has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s most successful junior college athletic programs, referenced by many as “The Home of the Champions.”
For the past two years, the Herkimer Generals athletic program has won the National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) Cup, ranking Herkimer first in the nation among non-scholarship two-year athletic programs, based on national championship competition. Director of Athletics and Herkimer Alum Donald Dutcher said, “This is a testament to a long history of hard work on the part of the entire athletic department staff, together with the support of our faculty and the College administration. It has been a total team effort.” That wasn’t it however as the department also won the Sportsmanship and Community Service Recognition award. The Sportsmanship Award recognized the department’s dedication to the honor and integrity of intercollegiate athletics and the display of outstanding sportsmanship during competition throughout the year by student-athletes and coaching staff, while the community service award was earned by multiple volunteer efforts within the community.
Dutcher attributes Herkimer’s athletic success to the commitment and quality of his coaching staff. All of Herkimer’s coaches are employed full-time at Herkimer. Dutcher said, “This gives coaches more opportunities to interact with and support their student-athletes which strengthens their commitment to them and the College.”
The Herkimer culture places great emphasis on academic success. To ensure academic success of student-athletes, Student Athlete Specialist John Campagna meets with and supports athletes and tracks their grades and class attendance. “This position is a great asset to the athletic program, as the graduation rate of our student-athletes exceeds that of the overall student body,” said Dutcher.
Many of Herkimer’s coaches are alumni with storied athletic careers at Herkimer and beyond. Included is Head Men’s Soccer Coach Pepe Aragon, who has won seven national, 18 regional and 18 conference championships. He is joined by many successful, dedicated coaches, including Herkimer alum Peter Anadio (softball and women’s basketball), alum Matt Lee (men’s basketball), alum Jason Rathbun (baseball and bowling), alum Jamie Ireland (men’s lacrosse), alum Jason Palkovic (women’s soccer), Dianna Ste-Marie (women’s lacrosse and volleyball), alum Sharon Howell (track & field), alum Katie Scanlon (tennis), Stephen Sydoriw (cross country) and Vicki Brown (swimming & diving).
Assistant Athletic Director Richard Dawkins, Athletic Trainor Kyle Roepnack and Website Manager Giorgio Varlaro round out the final component to Herkimer’s success. Dawkins serves as tournament co-director for many sports, but also finds the time to help assistant coach despite his many full-time duties. Roepnack is the primary source of care and rehabilitation for all athletes, also maintaining his own state of-the-art athletic training facility. Varlaro creates content, but also publicizes all athletic information through an athletic website (www.herkimergenerals.com) and multiple social media platforms.
Wehrum Stadium, a state-of-the-art facility, features an all-weather, synthetic grass playing surface, and is the home for soccer and lacrosse. Recent renovations have been made to the varsity gym, cross country course, softball and baseball fields, and recreational gym. The varsity gym floor and sound system have been revamped; the cross country course has been milled out with new terrain to keep it predominantly on grass; the softball field stone-dust infield has been replaced with a mixture of clay, and an electronic scoreboard and batting cage have been added; the baseball field received a new scoreboard and a batting cage down the third baseline which adds to its southern ball park feel; and two sets of batting cages have been added to the recreation gym. Other indoor facilities include a strength and conditioning center, fitness center, aerobics room, six-lane competition pool and indoor track which are open for students and community members each day of the week. Outdoor facilities include a nature trail and several practice fields.
Herkimer has hosted several regional and national tournaments, as well as local high school athletic events, bringing some of the best talent in the nation to the campus.
Alumni have continued their academic and athletic careers at four-year colleges and universities throughout the country, including: Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, Cornell, South Carolina, UMass, Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia, Albany, Bowling Green, Coastal Carolina, University of Tampa, Clarkson, Binghamton, Geneseo, Boston, West Virginia, Lynn, Marist, Connecticut, St. John’s, Temple, Clarkson, Hofstra, Cortland, RIT and many more. Herkimer’s many transfer agreements allow for a smooth transition to many public and private colleges.
Former Herkimer soccer standout Ben Polk (’15), who is the latest of many student athletes whom have been drafted, said, “My coach always stressed that being an elite athlete involves succeeding both in soccer and in the classroom. He was right. My experience at Herkimer helped me move on to a Division I program which resulted into an eventual first round draft pick by the Portland Timbers in the 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft after I helped lead Syracuse to their first ever NCAA Final Four appearance.” While at Herkimer, Polk was named Region III Male Athlete of the Year, NSCAA and NJCAA All-American, Region III Male Player of the Year, Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year and a SUNY Chancellor’s Scholar Athlete.
Herkimer College has grown and changed in many ways in 50 years, but one thing that has remained constant is the College’s focus on students and their success.
|Herkimer's Team National Championships
|Women's Track & Field