After years of living in the Big Sky cellar, Portland State has finally come into their own as a dominant athletic club.
As I was reading through team press releases and preparing for this week’s issue, I realized that all of our teams have the potential to be fantastic this year in conference play. Viking athletics are no longer rebuilding for the next season, or depending on one player to lead us into the big game. This is the prime of PSU athletics with all of the sports expecting and preparing for a successful season.
Football is poised to have a championship year with its well-rounded offense and great defense. Men’s basketball might have more size at the center position than any other team and could dominate in the Big Sky. Women’s basketball sports two sophomore stars and a senior stud that are coming back ready to lead the team deep into the playoffs. Lastly, the volleyball team has all the important pieces they will need to come back and have another successful year.
In the past, PSU has relied on one or two big stars to get the team to the postseason, such as two years ago when the men’s basketball team relied on Seamus Boxley and Blake Walker to win every game. Without depth all teams flounder and the men’s team went belly up in the first round of the Big Sky championship game. This year every sport has stars with talented back-ups behind them.
On the women’s team Kelsey Kahle was the story of the year, but sitting happily behind her was Delaney Conway, who has made a name for herself as the team’s sixth man. On the football team’s dominant offensive line sits first team All-Big Sky guard Brennan Carvalho and second team All-Big Sky guard Peter St. John, yet waiting in the wings are juniors Daren Heerspink and Cody Feakin who will be challenging for a spot all year.
The fact is that former athletic director Tom Burman did a fantastic hiring job before he left for greener pastures. He picked coaches who know that hard work wins championships. Women’s basketballs head coach Charity Elliott has instilled a hard-nose defense and a great work ethic that will keep the Vikings competitive for years to come. Ken Bone, who helms the men’s team, brings an up-tempo and high-powered offense that not only will win in the postseason but will also fill seats.
Softball head coach Amy Hayes led the team to its first Pacific Coast Conference championship in her first year in 2006. It is obvious that Burman’s guiding hand has helped Portland State become a fearsome contender in all of its offered sports.
When Burman left to take a position at the University of Wyoming, his alma mater, he left behind a legacy and a group of talented coaches who are proven winners. His loss was huge for Portland State and replacing him will be a very complicated and arduous task. However, I can’t imagine the University’s athletic departments being in a better position heading into 2007.
I am not guaranteeing every sport will win a championship this year, but it will be a huge surprise if Portland State doesn’t end up having to make space in the trophy case for a few new shiny awards.