No year in recent memory has required the same amount of resiliency and fortitude for a college athletics program (and everyone else, for that matter) as 2020 has.
With all the challenges that UVU’s sports teams have faced, there have also been some positives. The goals at the university have been forced to adapt — but many have stayed the same as well.
This holiday season is a time for hopes and dreams, so here is a look at some of the things the Wolverines have on their wish list as they set their sights on 2021:
Survival through financial challenges
While athletic programs throughout the country have been forced to eliminate sports teams because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to impressive budgeting efforts, UVU hasn’t been forced to make any announcements about similar cuts.
No one is out of the woods at this point, however, and the biggest wish on the list for the Wolverines is that the athletic department will be able to make it through the difficult challenges.
Although UVU didn’t have to deal with the football uncertainties, it has had to deal with having nearly no sports teams competing from March to November. Hopefully donors will step up (the Wolverines announced a matching program) and help keep the budget afloat.
A chance to play
The pandemic resulted in all of UVU’s spring sports being canceled and all the fall sports being postponed until the spring.
That sets the stage for a very, very busy time coming up for the Wolverines as volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball, golf, cross country and track and field teams will be trying to get their seasons in during the next few months.
What those athletes want more than anything is the chance to play. The Wolverines deserve to have a chance to improve in their respective areas of expertise and showcase their skills by competing.
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 2020-21 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 heading into 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.
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.
Exponential growth in student passion
The limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic make everyone appreciate even more all of the devoted students who come out to every event in their green to get loud in support of their athletes.
The hope is that the largest university in Utah will have that enthusiasm and excitement spread like wildfire through the student body so the numbers get bigger when they are able to get back to more in-person attendance.
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 for the teams.