Don’t be satisfied to just be here

Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics

When Utah Valley University hired Mark Pope as its men’s basketball coach in March, Athletic Director Vince Otoupal said, “It is a great day to be a Wolverine.” It was the start of a new era as Pope was replacing Dick Hunsaker, who had been the men’s basketball coach since 2003. What Pope brought with him was charisma, attitude, and a passion that hasn’t been seen very much throughout UVU athletics. It also brought in a coach who wants the fans to get involved, especially students.

No offense to the other coaches around the university, but how many can say they went into the halls and brought donuts to the students, or stayed up until midnight to participate in a promotional event? Mark Pope has brought a new mentality to the athletic department and it has paid dividends.  That will be apparent when the new basketball practice facility is built this offseason. Pope did the funding for that project completely through fundraising efforts.

Pope is not alone in his desire to change the mindset of the program. UVU men’s soccer coach Greg Maas is another contributor to this. In just his second year as head coach, Maas guided the program to the school’s first ever top-25 national ranking in any sport and helped the Wolverines earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. He has lobbied long and hard to create the 12th Wolverine and it has paid off. The Wolverines are a combined 11-3 at home since the program began in 2014.

And there is speculation that a new grandstand will be built at Clyde Field in order to handle the large crowds at soccer matches.  One thing of note with Maas is that he is very active on Twitter and interacts with fans and media. Not many coaches do that and it has been a breath of fresh air.

These are two coaches who are reaching out; reaching out to the community, to the administration, and to the students. These are two coaches who aren’t satisfied with just showing up on a nightly basis. They want to win and win now. It is something that needs to rub off on the other coaches and teams in the UVU Athletic department. Yes, every now and then a team has success and wins a championship.

But instead of being content with one, work harder the next year to get another one. Don’t be satisfied to just be in the conference tournament or to finish in the top-5 in the conference. Don’t settle for mediocrity.

This goes for student-athletes as well. Outwork your opponents. Have more heart. Show them that the Wolverines are not content to just be here. Show them that the Wolverines are here to win and that you are going to prove to the world that you belong.

And fans: get on the bandwagon now because the Wolverines are going to make it known that they are here to stay.

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