Letter to the Editor

For those of you who may not have noticed, it is time to realize that our Viking athletics programs seem to be gaining some momentum. The student-athletes, coaches and staff members have made many positive strides over the past year. There seems to be a larger presence on campus and in the community.
Many more individuals are being recognized for their athletic achievements and the majority of Viking teams are showing real signs of improvement. The administration is also helping propel us forward, allocating funds to improve our facilities. From an outsider’s point of view, the whole department seems to be moving forward – and that is exciting for the entire university.
One of the major community outreach events that took place this past year involved our football, softball and volleyball teams. Each program adopted a child through the Friends of Jacqueline Foundation. This not only garnered much attention from the community of Appleton, it also helped student athletes recognize that competing on an intercollegiate team is a privilege.
The hockey team has taken part in a program where families throughout Appleton come to open skating sessions and an end-of-the-year picnic. This program has attracted 29 families in total. This type of recognition throughout the community can only mean more support in coming years.
From a competitive standpoint, the men’s tennis team won its first MWC North Division Championship in school history when it knocked off St. Norbert in the last match of the year, and the women’s soccer team earned a berth in the MWC Conference Championship Tournament for the first time in a number of years.
Other teams have shown improvement as well. The softball team ended up .500 after a less-than-stellar year last season with many contributions from freshmen. The baseball team, despite its overall record, improved all year long and beat UW-Stevens Point this season while starting seven freshmen on a regular basis!
Like the baseball team, the hockey team improved as the year progressed and reached the conference semi-finals for the second consecutive year – the first time this has ever happened. Both cross country teams seemed to improve on a weekly basis, and many of the runners had their personal best runs at the end of the year.
The volleyball team also improved tremendously and even beat nationally 14th-ranked UW-Eau Claire. All of these examples are evidence that our teams are moving in the right direction competitively.
Although it may be simply a start, it seems like we should all take notice – the Vikings are making a move toward excellence.
-Mike Szkodzinski, acting director of athletics