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Opinion: The Future is Bright For Utah Valley Athletics

UVU Athletics and UVU Marketing

If you haven’t noticed the buzz around Orem as of late, then you might want to start paying closer attention.

A once small, tiny, Junior College known as Utah Valley State College has sprouted into the largest university in the state of Utah that has seen a major uptick in athletic successes – and support – as of late. The speed at which these events have unfolded is mind boggling. As UVU made its transition from the Junior College level to the Division 1 level in 2003, officially becoming a full member in 2008. Now, 16 years later, Utah Valley Athletics is seeing a major uptick in success at one of the highest levels in collegiate sports.

Those were just some of the thought’s racing through my mind on Tuesday night, as I stood shaking with nerves, ready to throw out the first pitch at the UVU – BYU Softball game in Orem. A game that saw the Wolverines beat the Cougars 12-10 behind an impressive 10-run 3rd inning. Just one of the many recent successes against both in-state and “Power 5” opponents for the UVU Athletic department.

Other recent successes for Utah Valley include wins on the basketball court over multiple P5 opponents. Road wins at Oregon, Washington, Colorado & two consecutive wins vs BYU. Not to mention multiple WAC regular season titles and a birth to the NIT Final Four.

But the athletic success doesn’t start or end with just basketball. One could argue that every single athletic program at UVU has reached new heights as of late. Including the first National Championship in Utah Valley’s D1 history thanks to the incredible performance by Everlyn Kemboi winning the Women’s 10,000-meter race at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The UVU Baseball team had the biggest turnaround in D1 baseball just a season ago under Head Coach Eddie Smith. As the Wolverines went from an 18-win team in 2022 to over 30 wins and an appearance in the WAC Championship game at last year’s WAC Baseball Tournament.

The laundry list of accolades could take up the rest of this article. But possibly one of the biggest accomplishments for UVU Athletics as of late might not even be an on the field victory, but rather a new field victory. Or $20 million stadium for that matter. Contrary to popular belief, me being asked to throw out the first pitch at the game on Tuesday wasn’t the biggest news story of the day. UVU Athletics breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art facility narrowly edged it out.

The more than $20 million project, sponsored by Utah Community Credit Union, UCCU Stadium will be located on the west side of the current Clyde Field. With an expanded spectator capacity of 3,000 including the addition of 400 chairback seats and covered plaza seating it will be a premier venue for NCAA Division I soccer, promising an unmatched experience for players, fans, and the community. Additionally, the facility will boast an MLS-style press box with broadcast capabilities and eight luxury suites, ensuring a premium experience for guests.

The stadium will be home to both the UVU Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams who, quite arguably, have had the most success of any of the 14 athletic programs on campus. Earning NCAA Tournament at-large bids and winning NCAA Tournament games like the 1-0 win that the UVU Women’s Soccer team claimed over Memphis in 2021. It’s hard not to notice the winning programs that Women’s Head Coach Chris Lemay and Men’s Head Coach, former RSL great, Kyle Beckerman have been putting together.

The announcement marked yet another massive milestone for Utah Valley Athletics since its transition to Division 1 athletics. One that could provide the school with more exposure, with the potential to bring in big time brands across not only the soccer world but the entertainment world too. It’s also another step forward in the maturation of an institution that will soon takeover and lead the state in the number of alumni still living in Utah, if they haven’t already. With more & more athletic success vs top tier opponents & continued improvements to facilities, the future tide of fan and monetary support just might turn a little more green.

For those of you that stuck around to the end and are curious how my first pitch ended up you can find the video below – just a bit high and outside.

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