Over the past few years it has become an annual rite of spring. As trees and flowers on campus begin to emerge from their winter slumber, the university community gathers to celebrate, watch, and cheer for our women’s basketball team as it makes another deep run in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Students, staff, alumni, parents and members of the broader community come together in large lecture halls or the campus dining room to watch live video feeds, and alumni all around the world sit near their computers to watch or listen as the Bruins take on the nation’s best. This year was no different.
This season marked a new era in George Fox women’s basketball, as new coach Michael Meek took the helm of the program after longtime coach Scott Rueck left the institution last summer to take over the struggling Oregon State program. Coach Meek brought with him an excellent coaching resume, and a desire to continue the winning tradition that has characterized this program for more than a decade. Despite the change in leadership, the team which included eight new faces and three returning starters, didn’t skip a beat. They earned their fifth straight Northwest Conference Championship and earned a birth in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year (one of only two teams nationwide to accomplish that feat).
During their run through the tournament, the unranked Bruins defeated two teams ranked ahead of them, including one victory against #3 Wisconsin-Stevens Point on their home floor. That victory in the Sweet 16 round sent the Bruins onto their fourth ever Elite 8, and third in a row. Despite a valiant effort in their final game, George Fox came up one point short from making another appearance in the Final Four. Still the Bruins proved their mettle on a national stage and with no graduating seniors are poised to make another run next spring. In addition, sophomore Hannah Munger was selected West Region Player of the Year, and junior Keisha Gordon received second-team West Region honors.
Of course, the women’s basketball team isn’t the only group of George Fox students to compete at a high level. Consider this:
• Since Fall of 2010, the George Fox Speech & Debate Team has won more than 40 awards, including two first-place sweepstakes awards. There is no doubt the success of this team is remarkable, but when considering the entire team has only 14 members it is all the more impressive.
• Entering the spring season, the George Fox Women’s Golf team is ranked 13th nationally. Keep in mind year is only the fifth season of the team’s existence.
• The Bruins baseball team is also ranked nationally, coming in at 22nd. Despite recent rainy conditions, the team is looking to once again capture the Northwest Conference crown at the conclusion of the season.
While all this success is exciting, winning alone is not what we strive for at George Fox. The experience of student athletes, as well as those students that participate in co-curricular clubs and organizations, is an integral part of the broader student experience at George Fox. On these teams and in these organizations, students develop new leadership skills, build relationships, and are mentored by outstanding coaches and staff advisors.
But still, I really like it when our students succeed!
Director of Alumni Relations