The Return of Tri-C Sports

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by Christina Easter

During October 2021, Anthony Cipollone was hired as the executive director of Athletics, Wellness, and Recreation for Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) after a two-year suspension of sports due to the pandemic. Cipollone immediately got the ball rolling by hiring coaches who achieved success as an athlete themself or coach. In the first two seasons under his leadership, the Triceratops have excelled in many areas with more to come. 

Once onboard, Cipollone hired first-time Triceratops head coaches Tionne El-Amin (Volleyball), Bryan Komlos (Softball), Omar Williams (Women’s Basketball), and Aaron Nixon (Men’s Basketball). Devan Anderson (Men’s Soccer) and Kyle Stahlberg (Baseball) were the only returning coaches. The coaches continued building the program with new athletes and assistant coaches.

But as with most new experiences, there was a lot of learning for the staff, coaches, student athletes, and Cipollone who described his first season as chaotic, successful, and a lot of learning.

“We were all learning how Tri-C works, our conference, the region, and the national organization,” Cipollone said. “It was chaotic trying to get the administrative personnel to understand the needs of the athletic program. We also had to keep hammering the point that the investment in our student athletes is not only in scholarships but also in equipment, buses, travel, meals, and paying organizations dues for our league and national organization.”

Learning some of the obstacles that student athletes had to overcome was “eye opening” for Cipollone as he also learned about some of the services Tri-C has to help students deal with social, mental, and physical issues. Cipollone said he and his staff were continuously trying to come up with creative ideas to assist the student athletes. 

“Some of them are living on their own for the first time and trying to figure out how to sleep and eat the right way,” Cipollone said. “We also had students who had accidental deaths in their family, murders, and things like that. And while trying to understand that we still had to get them to compete at a high level.”

Cipollone was happy with the successes of the 2022-2023 season as the women’s volleyball team qualified for the regional tournament and the women’s track and field team were indoor regional champions and outdoor regional runner ups. The men’s basketball team qualified for regionals and came a point short of being in the mix for the conference championship. The softball team qualified for regionals and the baseball team just barely missed winning the conference.

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