By Kevin Brown Herald Writer
The Trinity Lutheran Eagles are moving up in the athletic world.
The Everett-based college announced Monday that its application for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has been accepted. The application was approved Sunday at the NAIA’s annual convention.
Trinity Lutheran, currently a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), will join the NAIA at the start of the 2014-15 school year.
“It’s a big jump in competition,” said Trinity Lutheran athletic director Matt Koenigs, who also coaches the school’s cross country and track and field teams. “The (NCCAA) is competitive, to be sure, but it’s a lot harder to advance to nationals at the NAIA level.”
As an example, Koenigs noted that seven of his track and field athletes have qualified this spring for the NCCAA national championships, and just two have met the qualifying standards for the NAIA.
The increased competition should help recruiting, Koenigs said.
“One of the first questions (recruits) ask is: ‘Where do you compete? …’” Koenigs said. “Athletes want to be where they are going to be challenged.”
Trinity Lutheran fields men’s and women’s teams in five sports (cross country, golf, swimming, soccer and track and field) and plans to add tennis in the near future. Other sports may be added if the college continues to grow, Koenigs said, but right now there are no plans for expansion beyond the tennis teams.
“We want to make sure the sports we have are done well,” he said.
Trinity Lutheran has an enrollment of roughly 200 students, 40 percent of whom take part in intercollegiate athletics, Koenigs said.
In their first year of NAIA membership, Trinity Lutheran will be considered an associate member and won’t be eligible for postseason competition, The following year, the school will be eligible for full NAIA membership.
NAIA members in the Pacific Northwest include Northwest University in Kirkland, Walla Walla University, Evergreen State College, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, Corban University, Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore., Warner Pacific College, Southern Oregon University and Lewis &Clark State.