The Oxford Women’s Cross Country team hoist their NJCAA trophy after winning the meet for the first time in program history on Nov. 13, 2021. (Courtesy of Julia Danko)

Most people don’t know that Oxford College has their own sports teams, let alone that those teams hold a staggering 18 national championship titles. In fact, first and second year student-athletes at Oxford College compete independent of Emory’s NCAA Division III program at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division-III level. Oxford currently has nine varsity sports: men’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis. The cross-country teams are the newest addition to Oxford’s varsity offerings when the team was elevated to varsity status in 2016.

At Oxford, student-athletes have the unique experience of competing for two years at the junior college level as opposed to four years at the NCAA level. Sophomore Julia Bazata ultimately chose to attend Oxford because it allowed her to play golf competitively while still attending Emory.

“[Emory women’s golf head coach Katie Futcher’s] team is really impeccable,” Bazata said. “I can never shoot what they shoot … but I still wanted to go to Emory. So, I looked at Oxford.” 

Bazata is one of two current members on the Oxford women’s golf team. In fact, recruiting athletes to play at Oxford so that teams have a full roster is a challenge that coaches face every year. 

Oxford men’s basketball head coach and athletics director Roderick Stubbs emphasized how difficult recruiting can be given Oxford’s two-year commitment, which requires teams to replace a sizable portion of the roster every year.

“We have to build relationships,” Stubbs said. “We start [recruitment] early in the summer, trying to build those relationships with the student-athletes. And we know it’s very important to get them to campus. So, we try to have showcases in the fall to get them to campus. And that’s helpful in us yielding the students if we can get them on campus. It’s a year-round process and it’s difficult.”

In addition to recruited athletes, some students decide to join varsity teams once they step on campus. Oxford cross-country head coach Ella O’Kelley said many athletes join her team after they were already admitted to Oxford through word-of-mouth or simply because they love running. 

“It was literally the students who went out and said, you got to be a part of this,” O’Kelley said. “From there, we just built a reputation. I get a lot of emails [from students saying], I want to run a cross country team … but I wasn’t the top. I said, ‘Listen, just bring your heart, your willingness and commitment, and we’ll do the rest.’”

The women’s cross-country team has gone on to reach new heights, and they even won the NJCAA Division III National Championship after just five seasons as a varsity team in 2021.


Stubbs is hopeful that with more athletic space, the athletics department would be able to better support student-athletes and the entire student body. Currently, Oxford’s Williams Gymnasium hosts varsity basketball and club cheerleading and dance, as well as intramural badminton, volleyball and basketball. The gym also has a weight room that overlooks the basketball court. Oxford also maintains an aquatic facility to host club swimming, as well as 10 tennis courts for varsity tennis and recreational use. Behind the tennis courts is the William Troy Bivings Athletic Field, where the varsity soccer teams practice. Additionally, physical education classes make use of all available athletic facilities on campus. 

“Facility space is one of our major challenges … the number of students that we have, we really do need a new facility to help with recreation, intramurals, the physical education classes,” Stubbs said. “We had a feasibility study [for a new athletic space] over five years ago. And with that feasibility study, the price tag came back, it was very expensive. So, we’re hoping that they restart the feasibility study, because we really do need a new facility.”

Stubbs hopes that more space will allow new varsity sports to emerge. First on the list is cheerleading, which is currently a club sport. In fact, all varsity sports begin at the club level and then get elevated to the varsity level after the athletic and admissions departments determine there is enough student interest for a full roster.

“We’re looking at the cheerleading program and dance,” Stubbs said. “They’re doing so well with the numbers that, it’s a possibility that we could move that up to varsity in the near future.” 

Given the 18 national championship titles that Oxford College currently holds, the future for Oxford Athletics looks bright. This spring, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will look to defend their respective national championship titles and bring more hardware back to Oxford.


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Sophia Lin-David (she/her) (24Ox) is from Boston, Massachusetts and plans to major in political science and strategy and management consulting across the College and Goizueta Business School. Outside of the Wheel, Sophia plays cello in the Emory University Symphony Orchestra and is an ambassador for the EmoryVotes initiative. Additionally, Sophia enjoys running outdoors and supporting the Boston Celtics.