Frederick Community College has fielded many successful athletic teams since the school first opened 61 years ago. What's been missing, however, has been a consistent fan base, whether it's students or members of the surrounding area.
Chad Smith, the Cougars new director of athletics, hopes he can change that, beginning by reaching out to the community in the coming months.
"The first thing that needs to be done is bring stability to the athletic director's office," Smith, 48, said.
FCC has been without a full-time AD since last spring, when Shawn Noel, the previous FCC AD, resigned after less than six months on the job. Rodney Bennett, the current Cougars' baseball coach, had been the FCC AD for several years.
Bennett is now an academic advisor for student-athletes, in addition to being the baseball coach.
Smith is adjusting to his new job on the fly. He was hired Monday, Oct. 29.
Smith formerly served as coordinator of athletics at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia. He also served as the school's head baseball coach.
While at Thomas Nelson, Smith oversaw the two-year school's admittance into the NJCAA as a Division III school in 2015.
Even though he's been on the job less a month, Smith has spent extra hours on campus, getting familiar with FCC's administration and other faculty members. He's also delving into the Cougars' athletic past.
"I was going through some old files here and found some old newspaper clippings," Smith said of some archives that go back 45 years.
One particular photo from an old newspaper clipping that shows a then-new FCC athletics center, which opened in early 1971, caught Smith'e eye. He said he's been amazed at what he's read.
In those early times, several hundred fans would be in the FCC field house, watching men's and women's basketball. Rivalry games involving such teams as Allegany College, Hagerstown Community College and Baltimore City Community College often brought that total to almost 1,000.
Over the years, those numbers dropped off. Now, for most basketball games, only one side of the bleachers is opened. The FCC gym can easily seat more than 1,000.
Smith stressed a focus on the entire athletics program. The Cougars have sent teams and individuals to many NJCAA national championship events in the past.
Showcasing these programs is a priority for Smith. But first, people need to know about them.
"Student engagement and fan support are very important," Smith said. "Fundraising is something which needs to be worked on as well."
His plan is to go out in the community, reaching out to various civic organizations, visiting area high schools, letting them know about what FCC has to offer. Smith is also aware the school is in an area shared by two local four-years colleges, Hood and Mount St. Mary's University.
Establishing some sort of partnership with Hood and the Mount is something Smith said he wouldn't mind looking into in the future. He still has much research to complete before developing any concrete plans.
"Remember, I'm so new. I've got a lot to do," Smith said.