Any visitor to Utah Valley University can’t miss the way the school is excited about the future. It’s growing in attendance and opportunities, building new facilities and adding new areas of study.
It’s definitely a good place to dream about big things.
The UVU athletic department is no different as it looks to build on past successes and reach new heights in the coming years.
Here’s a look at a few of the things the UVU sports teams would put on their wishlists as they turn their attention to 2020:
An NCAA tournament bid in men’s basketball
Every university with a budding athletic program yearns for that moment in the spotlight when its most prominent sport finally makes it to the biggest stage.
It’s not easy getting to the Big Dance for teams in the position of the Wolverines, since barring a phenomenal preseason an at-large bid is a pipe dream. Instead, UVU has to put together a perfect WAC tournament run.
It hasn’t happened yet and the odds of it happening in 2019-20 appear slim right now — but this group of Wolverines is making strides and who knows how good the team will be when March rolls around.
National wrestling success
This might be the program that has had the most success on a national stage to this point. It has been nationally ranked (although not this year) and has put a number of wrestlers into the NCAA tournament.
The Wolverines have the advantage of being the only wrestling program in the state, so they can draw some of the top talent. But they still have to overcome the national powerhouses of the sport, both individually and collectively.
It will be something very special to see a UVU representative win a national title or have success in international competition.
Growth of college men’s soccer as a major sport
Soccer has become a player in the national sports discussion over the past few decades, but men’s competition at the university level is still somewhat limited.
Greg Maas’ program has done pretty well over the years (12-6-3 this year while reaching the WAC title match) but it still faces an uphill battle for overall recognition.
Hopefully the competition level of men’s soccer will continue to grow and the Wolverines will be the standard-bearer in Utah.
A huge career for head men’s basketball coach Mark Madsen
UVU had to make some big adjustments during 2019 as the Wolverines welcomed a new coaching staff. Head coach Mark Madsen had quite a bit of experience as an assistant but now he gets the opportunity to be at the helm of his own program.
Given his connections and experience, it seems likely that he might eventually move on to high-profile opportunities — but only if he is successful in Orem.
The Wolverines would love to see Madsen become the next hot name on the coaching carousel because it would mean he put together some great years for UVU and continued to build the stature of the men’s basketball program.
A 2016-esque resurgence for Wolverine baseball
All UVU baseball fans should take a moment to remember where the Wolverine baseball team was in 2016 and dream big.
It’s been some tough years for UVU since things came together in Orem and the Wolverines put together a landmark season that included an NCAA tournament berth.
While the Wolverines haven’t won more than 18 games since that year, UVU has some good pieces right now and there is always a possibility that history could repeat itself.
Achievement of the full potential for the volleyball team
It proved to be another solid year for Wolverine volleyball but this squad knows it can still take another big step forward.
The Wolverines were led by sophomore Kazna Tarawhiti as they ended up with an 11-19 record, which included facing a number of ranked opponents.
UVU still has a number of talented young volleyball players who need to continue to improve. If they do, the possibilities for Sam Atoa’s squad are definitely intriguing.
More moments for women’s soccer like the OT game at Michigan
The UVU Wolverines played one of their best games of the 2019 season when they went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and gave the Big 10 Wolverines all they could handle before losing 2-1 in extra time.
That showing indicated that this UVU women’s soccer squad isn’t that far away from being a factor in the sport. With some good underclassmen on the team, look for the Wolverines to make some noise on the pitch in the next couple of years.
Exponential growth in student passion
All of the devoted students who come out to every event in their green to get loud in support of their athletes deserve to be commended for their dedication and energy.
The next step is for the largest university in Utah to have that enthusiasm and excitement spread like wildfire through the student body so the numbers get bigger year after year.
There is something magical about being in the middle of a roaring, raucous group of student fans. It’s those type of experiences that make individuals fans for life and build the foundation of long-term support of the teams.