February 20, 2020

When thinking of Final Four competitions, community colleges do not often come to mind.  However, in the highly competitive world of cyber defense competitions, John A. Logan College has a fighting chance to be a finalist if they can win the Midwest Regional competition on February 22.  For the past several years, the John A. Logan College Logan Defenders Team has not only competed against larger research-based universities, but they have also beaten them.

This past Saturday, the Logan Defenders competed in the Illinois State Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) against 10 other Illinois colleges and universities. At stake was a bid to the Mid-West Region Final.  DePaul University came out on top earning the automatic bid, but the Logan Defenders outmaneuvered the remaining eight schools and finished second earning the right to compete in a wild card competition on February 22.  The Logan Defenders will go up against nine other schools around the mid-west, and the winner will gain the final spot in the Mid-West Regional Finals on March 13 and 14 at Moraine Valley.  The winner of the Mid-West Regional Finals, comprised of schools from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, will advance to the National Championship.

Mark Rogers, coach of the Logan Defenders, along with Kylee Williams and Roger Jeter, states the CCDC teams are different from most competitive teams, because they have no communication with their coaches during the competition.

“When the competition starts, they are on their own and can’t ask for anything,” said Rogers.  “That is where we are different from most sports teams where coaches can give advice and call time-outs.  We rely on how much they have learned and how well they can do research on the fly.”

According to Rogers, this is the furthest an Illinois community college has advanced in a CCDC competition.  He and the team are ready for more, thanks to inspiration from Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kyle Smithpeters.

“Coach Smithpeters took time out of his day to talk to our team and give a little motivation.  By the time he was done, they were ready to run through a wall,” said Rogers.  “We are excited about this week’s competition.  The way we see it, we are three wins away from a National Championship.”