Whether you’re an incoming freshman, a transfer student or a long-time Wolverine sports fan, there is no substitute for knowledge. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 things to love and expect from the various athletic programs as we enter the 2009-10 seasons.
(5) One-of-a-kind With UVU’s recent transition from junior college to NCAA division I athletics, there are no schools quite like UVU. As the first school to make such a dramatic transition, the expectations were low for the Wolverines when it came to competing against other division I schools on a regular basis. UVU’s seven-year provisional period began with an exploratory year in 2002-03. The next season teams began competing with partial Division I schedules and by 2005 were fully immersed in competing against Division I talent. This season–2009-10–will be the first year UVU competes as a full-fledged member of the NCAA and as a member of the Great West Conference.
(4) Growth One of the most exciting reasons to be a UVU fan comes with the opportunity to see the athletic department grow. As UVSC became UVU and then became NCAA-sanctioned, the growth of the school has been prolific. There is no telling how much growth is yet to come and there’s never been a better time to cheer on the Wolverines.
(3) Accessibility Because UVU is still under the radar in a lot of ways, the teams and athletes are more accessible than at other division I schools. There are always plenty of open seats at games and because the athletes don’t receive as much attention from the media, they are a lot more level headed and are surprised when they are recognized outside the gym or off the field.
(2) Winning Tradition Although the Wolverines are inexperienced as far as the NCAA goes they are not new to winning. UVU has posted wins against several big-name schools including a men’s basketball win over Arizona State of the Pac-Ten Conference, a baseball win over Oklahoma State, who was ranked in the top 10 nationally and wins over BYU and Utah on the baseball field. UVU also brings home the hardware as the women’s soccer team, volleyball team and basketball team regularly win their conference tournaments.
(1) Star Power The number-one thing about Utah Valley sports has been its ability to produce star athletes on a regular basis. Most fans know about Ronnie Price, who now comes off the bench for the Utah Jazz in the NBA. Price starred at UVU before signing a free agent contract with the Sacramento Kings and then the Jazz as he made his return to the state of Utah. The recently graduated Ryan Toolson took over for Ronnie Price as the universities favorite son, becoming UVU’s all-time leading scorer on the basketball court. Toolson tipped the scales with a 63-point win over Chicago State in four overtime periods last season and has continued to solidify Utah Valley’s spot on the basketball map. He has appeared in ESPN the Magazine and was featured in the program at the Final Four during the NCAA Tournament last year.
UVU has also seen Kam Mickolio become the first UVU baseball player to play in the Major Leagues when he made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles in August 2008. Also former track and field athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace became the first American women to win the overall World Cup title in the sport of Skeleton.