April 07, 2011
Photo by Laura J. Cole
When Jeff Hoblick (Class of 2014) was in third grade, his parents signed him up for the Winter Park Tigers football league. From the moment his cleats touched the green, he developed a passion for the sport. As a resident of Winter Park, Hoblick played football throughout his adolescence. As quarterback, he spent three years leading his Winter Park High School team to victory.
Now, a first-year student, Hoblick is leading the initiative to bring football, which has been on hiatus since 1949, back to Rollins through the creation of the Rollins College Football Club. The idea of bringing football back to Rollins started during winter break after his first semester at Rollins. Observing campus culture, Hoblick identified something that was missing about student life—unity.
“I miss playing football,” said Hoblick. “But that isn’t why I’m doing this. It’s because Rollins is missing something in its social life. Sometimes students get so caught up in their individual organizations that they forget they are all Rollins Tars. Basically it’s a program to make football awesome for everyone, not just people on the team, but everyone at the school.”
Not being one to sit on the sidelines, Hoblick took the initiative and set up a Football Club interest meeting on January 26, which 36 people attended. With the help of the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership, Hoblick has been hard at work seeking support for the program with the hope of having the funds to provide the necessary equipment for 33 players by next fall.
Starting with the campus community, the Football Club planned a Rollins SuperBowl Tailgate Barbecue in the Cornell Camus Center in February. The event included a live band, free Bubbalou’s Barbecue and the distribution of “Rollins Football: Support the Comeback” t-shirts.
The club is also looking to alumni for help. Alumnus Will Graves (Class of 1977) helped Hoblick establish the Founder’s Program, which is reserved for the first 10 sponsors willing to donate $5,000 to the club. Soon after, Bill Caldwell (Class of 1976) became the first member. With the support of more alumni like Graves and Caldwell, Hoblick hopes to have the necessary equipment for the team to play its first real game.
Once the necessary funds are secured, the club plans on joining the National Collegiate Football Association (NCFA), which has 20 members, including University of North Carolina, Clemson University, Columbus State University and Miami University. Membership in NCFA will afford the Rollins football team the opportunity to play in regional conferences as well as the annual national championship.
With more than 30 members so far, the Football Club has held workouts and practices several times a week this semester. Three volunteer coaches—alumnus Greg Hoblick (Class of 2004), Matt St. Jean (Class of 2011) and Lantrez Jones—oversee the practices.
“I wanted to get involved because I love football,” said St. Jean. “I have only worked with the guys for a short time, but they all are great, motivated players, and they will be an excellent foundation for the program. The leadership and the drive are present, and I'm excited to see where this goes.”
The Football Club already has two away games scheduled for next season against the University of South Alabama and Chattahoochee Technical College. With the help of student organizations such as the Student Government Association and All Campus Events, the Football Club hopes to organize a Rollins College Football Homecoming Week surrounding a home game in November 2011. The week would include a student organization float parade and a special tribute to the members of the Founder’s Program.
“Home games are what bring the entire community together,” said Hoblick. “The Rollins College Football Homecoming Week is the perfect example of what our organization is all about—uniting students in a shared experience. Football is such a powerful sport, and the Rollins students, faculty and alumni have been itching for one for quite some time.”
“Growing up in Land O'Lakes, I've seen how football can unite a community,” said the club’s Vice President, Michael Cardwell. “Not only did everyone in my high school go to our school's football's games, but everyone in our town would, as well. Stores would give shout-outs to the team on their marquee signs. People would go out to the games even if they didn't have any affiliation with the team or the school. Going to football games is something I've missed since coming to Rollins, and from talking to others, I know my feelings are shared. I really see football as an opportunity for students to come together as members of the Rollins Tars community.”
Once the team fully develops, Rollins administration will need to make a monumental decision regarding the future of the program. The Football Club could remain as a club sport under the NCFA or be re-established as a varsity sport, joining Stetson University and Florida Institute of Technology in a push to become an NCAA program.
“My hopes for the future of this team are very high,” said member Nick Vasone (Class of 2012). “As long as people continue putting forth the effort, we will be able to take off from the club level and find a way into the NCAA.”
“Either way,” said Hoblick, “the Football Club just wants to establish a football program that will bring a sense of pride and spirit to the Rollins community that hasn't been around for quite some time.”
For more information on becoming a member of the Founder’s Program, contact Director of Intramural and Club Sports Nate Arrowsmith at email@example.com.
By Brittany Fornof (Class of 2011)
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.