Since capturing its first state title in 1928, the Long Beach City College athletic program continues to make a name for itself both locally and nationally. While academics remain a constant emphasis at Long Beach City College, the institution is proud of its athletic program’s success. To date, Long Beach City College has won 16 national titles, seven runner-up national titles, 92 state titles, and 50 state runner-up titles.
It was Bert C. Smith, Okla Smith, and Clifford Wright who were credited with starting the first varsity athletic program at Long Beach Junior College in 1927. Also it was Bert C. Smith who captured the school’s first state title in 1928-29 as head coach of the men’s basketball team. It is also believed that Smith developed the first junior college intramural program in the United States during those years.
Along with basketball, men competed in baseball, cross country, football, golf, swimming, track & field, tennis, water polo, and wrestling. It wasn’t until the early 1930’s that women’s intramural and intercollegiate teams began to form in field hockey, basketball, speedball, baseball, swimming, golf, tennis, and rowing.
Today, Long Beach City College offers 18 intercollegiate athletic programs for its student-athletes to choose from, including: (Men’s) baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball, and water polo; (Women’s) basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and water polo.
While Long Beach City College teams enjoyed success within their conference and region, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that state and national titles were awarded to the majority of sports. John Fleitz won the first national title in tennis singles and teamed up with Don Menke to win doubles and claim the school’s second national title. Men’s gymnastics (no longer a competitive sport at LBCC) won the most national championships with six (1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1983) followed closely by football with five (1950, 1960, 1962, 1964, and 1995).
Athletics is an important part of a total college experience. It provides students many opportunities to develop skills such as teamwork, leadership, and dedication to a goal. These are concepts that can be used in the classroom, as well as in the workplace. Our 21 teams give hundreds of young men and women this opportunity each year.