With the way Portland State athletics is viewed in Oregon, the word “success” should be considered a foreign term, without meaning anywhere within the South Park Blocks. This is because success has rarely stumbled across the grounds of Portland State’s beautiful urban campus, at least in the case of athletics.
With the way Portland State athletics is viewed in Oregon, the word “success” should be considered a foreign term, without meaning anywhere within the South Park Blocks.
This is because success has rarely stumbled across the grounds of Portland State’s beautiful urban campus, at least in the case of athletics.
Sure, there have been a few past victories, such as the women’s golf team stringing together three Big Sky Championships in three consecutive years from 2003-05, or the men’s basketball team winning the Big Sky regular-season crown and hosting the conference tournament in 2005.
But anyone with a cursory knowledge of Portland State history knows the ending to the 2005 season was not a pretty sight, with the Vikings losing to Weber State in a heartbreaking matchup.
Somehow, the tide shifted this year. That word, “success,” graced the South Park Blocks not once, not twice, but three times within the course of this past academic year, delivering a nicely wrapped Big Sky Championship with every visit.
The Vikings won Big Sky Championships in men’s basketball, volleyball and women’s golf, pulling off an exceptional trifecta.
For being the neglected stepchild of the Oregon athletics scene for decades, Portland State outshined both the posh Oregon Ducks and often-overrated Oregon State Beavers, ending the year with an embarrassment of riches.
Along with these riches came some enchanting memories for Portland State fans.
First, newly reinstated The Horde student-fan group made its presence felt by stampeding onto the Stott Center floor after the Vikings volleyball squad pulled out a hotly contested victory over Sacramento State to win the regular-season title.
Then, there was the palpable energy and excitement that literally spilled onto the Rose Garden hardwood when fans rushed the court after the Vikings men’s basketball team closed out a victory in the Big Sky Tournament’s championship game.
Next up was March Madness. And surprisingly there was a sizeable horde of Portland State fans inside the Qwest Center Omaha to watch the No. 16 Vikings tangle with No. 1 Kansas in Portland State’s first ever NCAA Tournament.
The blue and red of Kansas swept through the arena. However, the contingent of Portland State aficionados and a “Vikings” pep band helped to drown out the chants of “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” that accented Brandon Rush dunks and Mario Chalmers three-pointers.
Another moment of elation came when the women’s golf team captured its fourth Big Sky title in six seasons. Sophomore Hannah Bews took home the individual award at the Big Sky Championships, propelling golf into the record books as the school’s winningest program.
These memories breed thoughts, that more are surely on the way.
While some programs are still underachieving, athletic director Torre Chisholm appears to have the right mindset: continue to grow the program.
Chisholm’s enthusiasm for enhancement–including his desire to attract more students to athletic events, secure additional corporate sponsorships and further brand the program–should help facilitate that growth.
For the first time in a long time, Portland State has some legitimate traction. The Vikings have some momentum in a state where the universities with the traditionally successful athletic programs, Oregon and Oregon State, have fallen on hard times normally reserved for Portland State.
The Ducks’ once-promising football season ended disastrously and Beavers’ basketball went 0-19 in Pac-10 play.
Right now, Portland State has an opportunity to capitalize on a down market and establish itself as a real contender in the state.
If they do, maybe “success” will touch down in the South Park Blocks a couple times again next year.