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Merle Trueblood is retiring as the Feather River College Athletics Director, but the won't be quitting sports anytime soon. He has been known to step in and coach his grandchildren's Little League teams. File photo by Debra Moore

Retiring Athletics Director Merle Trueblood leaves a legacy of success at FRC, looks to future

 

 

After more than 24 years of service to students and the community, Athletics Director Merle W. Trueblood is retiring from Feather River College. With the help of his staff, Merle has been instrumental in developing several new programs at FRC.

Merle started out in 1998 as assistant Softball Coach, as well as Director of Camps and Clinics. He was then hired as Director of Student Recruitment and Summer Sports Coordinator. In 2000, high school camps were no longer funded by the State enrollment model, so FRC shifted gears and started adding competitive sports to offset the loss of student enrollment. Merle was instrumental in the proposal to increase enrollment at FRC through intercollegiate athletic programs.  Eventually Merle became Athletics Director in addition to his duties as Feather River Fitness and Recreation Director.

FRC has seen the addition of baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, football, men’s and women’s rodeo, women’s cross country and track, and most recently, beach volleyball since he started in 1998. When Merle first arrived, FRC had a total of 44 athletes participating in three sports. At its highest level, the Athletics Department supported 342 student-athletes from across the United States and internationally. The current diverse culture of over 300 student-athletes is one of Merle’s proudest achievements. Integrating student-athletes into the community was a challenge that Merle met successfully year after year. FRC teams are often seen in the Plumas-Sierra Fair Parade, serving as coaches and referees for Parks and Recreation, and working at various community functions and FRC Foundation fundraisers.  Merle personified his devotion to the youth of Plumas County and has coached youth football and several softball and little league teams.

During his tenure as Athletics Director, FRC teams have earned 100 playoff berths, 55 conference championships including 14 undefeated seasons, 15 regional playoff appearances, 7 super regional playoff appearances, 14 Elite Eight teams, 10 Final Four appearances, 7 bowl games including the American Pacific Championship in 2022, one California State Championship in Volleyball in 2019, and a national championship in Rodeo in 2016. This spring, FRC was the state runner-up in Beach Volleyball, losing on the last point to Irvine Valley College.

As the second-smallest college in California, and the smallest college with intercollegiate athletics, Merle Trueblood built a tradition of success on the field and in the classroom.  In addition to the athletic success of Golden Eagle programs, an emphasis on the student-athlete performance continued in the classroom as well.  Merle created the FRC Scholar-Athlete recognition.  Additional, 10 separate FRC teams earned All-Scholar Team recognition, signifying the highest team GPA statewide for their respective sport.

In addition to championship teams, Merle’s coaching staff should be commended with their accomplishments, themselves earning 28 “Coach of the Year” honors. FRC is continually recognized for having transfer rates among the highest in California community colleges.

As Athletics Director, Merle was the first from FRC and the Golden Valley Conference to sit on the CCCAA Management Council, a six-year term where he was instrumental in bringing a higher level of recognition for north state colleges and their athletes. Additionally, Merle served six years as the men’s and women’s statewide soccer representative, was the State Gender Equity/Title IX Chair for all 112 community colleges, and was a member of the CCCAA Policies Committee, Post Conference Competition Review Committee, Bylaw 2 Recruiting Guidelines Committee, and a member of the CCCAA Athletic Directors Association. Within the GVC, he was a representative for baseball, softball, men’s & women’s soccer, and worked on several ad hoc committees.

Merle mentioned he is so appreciative of Feather River College and the four presidents he served under. The support on campus is second to none, and the tireless group effort of his coaches and staff is what sets the smallest community college with an athletics program apart from the rest.  Merle would like to give a special recognition to Valerie Campa – Athletic Program Coordinator and Juan Nunez – Head Athletic Trainer, both of whom have helped him guide the FRC Athletics Department to be one of the top programs in the state.

Merle Trueblood, left, stands on the courthouse steps following a volleyball championship in 2019. Head volleyball coach Sarah Ritchie is speaking and team captain Natalie Thomas, is on the right. File photo

Merle Trueblood definitely built a legacy of successful programs at FRC that helped thousands of students enroll, graduate, and transfer over the past 24 years. Success in academic achievements sustained championship teams, in an Athletics Department built through leadership from Merle Trueblood.

 

 

 

 

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