An old hand is the new face as Director of Athletics at Shoreline Community College.
Steve Eskridge has been named to lead the department he has been in charge of since November, 2013 when the previous AD, Doug Palmer, resigned. Eskridge has been in a variety of positions over the past 24 years at Shoreline, including head men’s basketball coach and manager of equipment and facilities.
“I’m very excited to be able to be in this position to serve our student-athletes,” Eskridge said.
Shoreline offers seven sports, including basketball, baseball and soccer for men and basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball for women.
“My goal is to support our student-athletes,” said Eskridge, who makes sure he uses both words together when referring to students who also participate in sports. “We need to support them as athletes an as students. You can’t forget the student part; that’s why they are here.”
To illustrate his commitment to serving the whole person, Eskridge points out that as part of the gymnasium remodeling that is occurring this summer, he will include a new athlete academic center in the building.
“We’re working on getting the computers and other equipment we need,” Eskridge said. “Of course, we’ll be working closely with tutoring and the learning centers on campus, but we also want to support the student-athletes here.”
Second on Eskridge’s priority list is fundraising.
“When I was head men’s basketball coach, I think I may have been the biggest fund-raiser on campus,” Eskridge said. Most of the funding for athletics comes from student fees, with the allocation decided on each year by the student government representatives. However, Eskridge said it is important for coaches and student-athletes in the individual sports to also go out and raise funds to help meet expenses.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a product of this system in Spokane where I grew up,” said Eskridge, who played basketball at the Community College of Spokane where he won the Most Inspirational award in 1985-86. Eskridge then transferred to Morris Brown College in Atlanta.
“I know that if I can do it, then I can help our student-athletes do it,” Eskridge said. “This system has been good to me.”
His daughter played basketball for Oregon State University. Eskridge said he saw the way the program was run and hopes to bring the same sense of professionalism to Shoreline. One of the first things he did was to bring back the Athletics Awards Banquet. The June 5 event was the first one in the past seven years. “It was a big success. the student-athletes deserve it,” he said.
Asked for one word to describe his goals for the program, Eskridge said: “Excellence.”
“Excellence in everything we do,” he said. “Yes, winning is important, but at the end of the day, I want to ask, ‘Did we do everything in our power to develop the student-athlete? Is that student-athlete moving forward?”
Looking at the teams for next season, Eskridge is characteristically optimistic.
The men’s basketball team has a new coach in Donald Brady, who comes to Shoreline from Bellevue where he was an associate head coach for six years. Brady comes from a coaching family; his father has been head basketball coach at Palm Desert High School, Calif., for 23 years. “We’re looking forward to some good recruits,” Eskridge said.
Men’s baseball also has new coaches in Travis Fox and Dave Snell. Snell was a high-school star at Ingraham, drafted as a pitcher by the San Francisco Giants and played in the Seattle Mariners minor league system. His son, Blake, was drafted in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Rays. Fox is a product of Western Oregon University and played two seasons playing in Australia and has had several coaching positions in Seattle and Spokane. “We had very good talent this year, but were hit by injuries,” Eskridge said. “Many of those players are coming back.”
In the soccer, Aaron Howe coaches both the men’s and women’s squads. “We have some new faces coming on and we’re very optimistic,” Eskridge said.
The women’s softball team also has a new coach in place, with Bryan Johnson taking over. Johnson has coached at Dakota Wesleyan University and Northern State University in South Dakota. He has also previously worked with the softball teams at Green River and South Puget Sound Community colleges.
Mark West and Raquel Chumpitaz-West return to lead the successful women’s volleyball program. “Mark and Raquel are great and they always have a strong team,” Eskridge said.
The women’s basketball team will be led by head coach Darnellia Russell. Russell coached at North Seattle Community College for three years. A guard during her career at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Russell was All-King County three years in a row. She played at North Seattle Community College where she won NWAACC Most Valuable Player and attended the University of the Cumberland in Williamsburg, Kentucky. “Darnellia is a young coach and she’s going to be a very good coach,” Eskridge said.