FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Nearly every sport that UAF has to offer is currently in season. While the Cross Country running season may be over, and volleyball is near the end, Hockey, swimming, both sides of basketball, and rifle are just now hitting their stride. And we still have Cross Country skiing to look forward to. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for UAF Athletics.
Dr Gary Gray; Athletic Director - UAF >> "We've had some great hockey games. We're excited about those two wins over UAA of course. So hockey, we think, is off to a good start. Volleyball is solid. More wins this season thus far than the past many years. Rifle has had some great home wins and now they go on the road. And just go on down the list. Swimming had a couple of home wins against Dixie. Women's Basketball this past Saturday had a nice win. Men's basketball on the road, had a win in Anchorage. So we think we're off to a great start and we're excited about the whole season."
This year the University isn't just leaning on the success of 1 program. Every team has found varying levels of success. In the opening month of their season, the Nanook Hockey team has already swept the UAA Seawolves and earned their first ever WCHA Rookie of the Month honor. The Volleyball team has won more games this year than they have since 2010, and the other programs are gearing up to show us what they can do.
Dr Gary Gray >> "I think it's important to have success across the program and as you know, we have 10 sports in 10 conferences. So we're pretty varied. But to have everything solid is good. It's good for the reputation of the program, good for our brand and the experience of the student athletes. Rather than just one program maybe get more attention than others. It's good to have all the programs on solid footing really."
A few of the new head coaches for this year also made their marks early in their coaching tenures. New Women's Basketball head coach Brett Sawyer earned his first win over the weekend, new Rifle Head Coach Lane Lewis has led his team to a 3-0 start, and Lance West and Lincoln Nguyen have made it an easy transition to the New Era for Nanook Hockey. The future certainly looks bright for UAF Athletics.
Dr Gary Gray >> "I was happy to shake Brett's hand after his first win and Lance West's after his first win. It makes them feel good, it makes everyone feel good. I think they're both off to a good start. As you know the conferences we play in are very very competitive. There's no easy game, there's no easy night. And so they're just going to battle and work hard. They'll have some losses along the way obviously. Everyone does except the National Champions, ends on a losing note. But those teams are going to work hard just like the rest, and have great experiences for the Student Athletes. It's all about being positive and successful and working hard and getting better. And going to class, doing well academically, and being active in the community, all those pieces fit together in our program but it's exciting to see them out there competing and they're gonna keep doing that as well as possible."