Wednesday, November 26, 2014

OU campus buzzing this week

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 11/20/2013

The Ottawa University community is jumping this week. There are a school-record four teams competing at the NAIA national level.

“There is a lot of buzz and excitement,” Ottawa Athletic Director Arabie Conner said. “With four teams, that is a good number of student-athletes running around here excited. A lot of planning and questions.

The Ottawa University community is jumping this week. There are a school-record four teams competing at the NAIA national level.

“There is a lot of buzz and excitement,” Ottawa Athletic Director Arabie Conner said. “With four teams, that is a good number of student-athletes running around here excited. A lot of planning and questions.

“I know it has created a lot of buzz with the alumni, board, and community. It is a neat thing. Everybody feels a part of that because we are a community.

“It is a unique opportunity to have so many teams to be supporting. A big population of our campus will be competing on Saturday.”

The women’s cross-country and soccer teams along with volleyball and football will be on the national stage.

“It is definitely exciting to see four teams out of the fall season competing at the national level,” Ottawa assistant athletic director and women’s basketball coach Bruce Tate said. “It lifts the spirits of the other programs — the winter and spring teams. It gives us expectations to live up to. It has been great for our student-athletes to have this experience.

“It is a pretty neat situation not only for our university, but for our student-athletes.”

Conner said nothing but positive things occur with this kind of success.

“This winning does become contagious,” she said. “People are feeling good things about things. Hopefully, it continues through seasons.”

Tate said it is nice to see his women’s basketball players reaction to the success of the other teams.

“The neat part once our game is over that is the first thing they are doing getting on the cell phone, checking scores, reading texts or looking on twitter,” Tate said. “They are excited about what is going on with the other teams. They are still engaged with the fall sports.

“They are friends, suitemates and in class with each other. It is a bond that is hard to be broken on a small campus like Ottawa.”

Announcements

The NAIA had selection shows available online. The football selections were made Sunday, while the volleyball and soccer came Monday.

“It is fun the way the NAIA does their announcing,” Conner said. “We had the Sunday announcement with football. It was a waiting game to see what the big picture was going to look like. Watching the selection show on Monday, it was a lot of fun. We are a little scattered. The teams get to travel to places they have not been. It is a lot of fun to have the opportunity to be playing at that level.”

Football plays at second-ranked Grand View, Iowa, in Des Moines, Iowa. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Volleyball travels to No. 19 Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas. The match is at 2 p.m.

The Lady Braves soccer team plays at ninth-ranked Cumberland, Tenn., in Lebannon, Tenn. The match starts at 1 p.m.

The women’s cross-country team competes at 11:45 a.m. at Rim Rock in Lawrence.

Story to tell

Each team has a different story behind qualifying for the NAIA championships.

“It all came together on Saturday,” Conner said. “A lot of dramatic finishes. It was the best soccer game I ever watched. To see it come down to the shootouts and everything else. I kept getting text updates on volleyball. They were always battling from behind. The waiting game if football would get in.

“It all came together and ended positively for us.”

Conner said all four teams peaked at the right time, which is a testament to the coaches preparation throughout the season.

“All four teams, a perfect storm of things,” she said. “That is what you work for.”

Tate, who was an assistant coach on three Lady Braves basketball NAIA qualifying teams, said this is a special time for those four teams.

“Cherish the moment,” he said. “Go out there and represent Ottawa and our conference. It is going to be neat to see how the weekend unfolds. It is fun times. It is a good way to close out the fall seasons.”

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