Jacksonville locale attracts potential student-athletes


A location featuring 22 miles of beaches only a few miles away from campus, national and international sporting events, more than 1,000 acres of nature trails, 72 golf courses and the home to the Jacksonville Suns and Jaguars will give any prospective student athlete a push toward UNF.

“We have a beautiful school and beautiful campus, where you have access to so many things, and we are a school with a great academic reputation,” UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon said.

There is something for everyone to do at the Jacksonville beaches, including fishing, surfing, playing volleyball, running, biking and more.

“UNF sells itself,” woman’s head basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer said. “Midwestern and Northern people always want to come to the beaches, and when you tell them it’s only a few miles from campus, they’re impressed.”

The campus also appeals to those who are familiar with the Floridian landscape.

“Those from instate really like the beaches scene, and those out of state look to the attractions Jacksonville has to offer,” Moon said. “Also, the Jacksonville Baseball Grounds is just one of many neat things Jacksonville holds.”

Although student-athletes probably get enough sports playing on their individual teams, Jacksonville offers a variety of major and minor league sporting complexes for them to enjoy as well. In addition to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and the Baseball Grounds, there are also numerous golf courses, including the famous Sawgrass Golf Club in Ponte Vedra that host the annual Players Championship.

The nightlife has also been improving in downtown Jacksonville, Tappmeyer said. There are a lot more events going on at the Jacksonville Landing that students could really enjoy.

“Jacksonville offers more than a typical college town that might hold a few courses here and there,” head golf coach Scott Schroder said. “UNF is surrounded by courses that help us with better recruiting and practice opportunities.”

While students are not at the beach soaking up a tan or in class, there are plenty of resources for academics at the Library, and the new Student Union provides new opportunities to hang out with friends on campus.

After fun in the sun and studying, sporting events are also going on yearlong and are a good way to become involved in the UNF community.

The athletics department is building from the ground up and is in the process of starting a new Division I athletic program come fall 2009, with a few new coaches and a whole new Media Relations department.

“It’s going to be easier to recruit quality student athletes, because now they can come and compete for championships at the NCAA level,” said Moon.

And while students are not competing or preparing for their academics, the St. Johns Town Center right off campus provides yet another great environment for students.

“It’s a great place to eat and hang out,” Schroder said. “There are plenty of places to eat at the Town Center.”

Jacksonville not only is in a great location that has numerous activates to take part in, on campus and off, it is one of the younger cities in Florida, head baseball coach Dusty Rhodes said. You will not find many retired people in Jacksonville.

In addition, there is a lot of diversity among the people who are in Jacksonville. It is an upper-and middle-class lifestyle set here, Schroder said. The atmosphere is perfect for college graduate job seekers.

“Jacksonville has many strong businesses and potential for job opportunities,” Rhodes said.

All of these aspects may appeal to potential recruits but there are some aspects that are especially inviting to athletes, such as the nature trails that are directly on campus and weave through it.

The trails make it easy for athletes to run, exercise and train, Rhodes said. It is a great setting and an added plus to the numerous things to do in Jacksonville.

So if you are a freshman just starting your college years and you are looking to be a student-athlete, UNF and Jacksonville offer a variety of activities to enhance the college experience.

“Jacksonville is a big enough city that I can do whatever I want depending on my mood,” Tappmeyer said. “There is always something going on in Jacksonville.”