Wingspan, Spring 2022
When AACC’s Fighting Pioneers started hitting the court in the 1960s, the only athletics team for the school was men’s basketball and the court was the Severna Park High School gym. When the college’s Arnold campus opened in 1967, seven sports programs also opened — all for men.
Much has changed in the 55 years since. More than 180 student-athletes play for six men’s teams, six women’s teams and one coed team in a variety of varsity National Junior College Athletic Association sports. Women’s sports were added in the 1970s.
In 2014, after years of a mascot identity crisis, a student-led effort that recruited public input saw the Pioneer mascot — and the corresponding red, white and blue colors — replaced by the Riverhawks, the color teal and Swoop the mascot. Students now play in teal on the field, on the track, on the court and even online with the newly formed esports varsity program started in 2022.
Esports are video games that are played in a highly organized and competitive environment. Conway Johnson, a 2015 AACC grad, is the new coach and previous advisor of the Esports Club, which started with 15 members six years ago and grew to more than 60 members last year.
“Becoming the first varsity esports coach at AACC feels a little unreal,” Johnson said. “I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity and I’ll be putting in 100% to make varsity esports at AACC the best it can be.” The team will compete as part of the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports and the Mid-Atlantic Esports Conference.