What a year it’s been for sports at Umpqua Community College. UCC hired new Athletic Director Craig Jackson in July 2016 and UCC Athletics is about to become more diverse and exciting than ever. Since Jackson’s hiring, UCC has added three new sports programs: cross country, obstacle course racing, and wrestling.
“The addition of our new sports is exciting because it provides opportunities for many Douglas County residents to stay at home and go to college while also participating in athletics” Jackson said. “Recruiting is going well and next year should be very exciting.”
If the addition of more sports programs wasn’t exciting enough, UCC’s previously established volleyball and basketball programs will surely grab the region’s attention after this past year’s accomplishments.
The UCC women’s volleyball team finished with a 28-23 overall record, earning the fourth seed in the Southern Region and a trip to the NWAC Volleyball Championship Tournament in November 2016. The RiverHawks had the odds stacked against them as their first game in the tournament was a match up against first ranked Bellevue in the Northern Region. UCC came away with the upset, winning three sets to two, and moved on to play Lower Columbia in the next round. The RiverHawks were defeated by the eventual NWAC Champion Lower Columbia Red Devils, losing three sets to zero.
The RiverHawks had four players receive Fall Academic Excellence Awards. To qualify for the award, players must be a sophomore in eligibility, have a minimum of 36 credits earned, a 3.25 cumulative GPA or higher, and must be recommended by the college. Players honored with the award were Cheyenne Chambers, Kaylee Hagadorn, Kortney Moore, and Viviana Rodriguez.
UCC also had two players win regional awards. Libero Kaysie Cornelio was named to the Southern Region First Team, and outside hitter Viviana Rodriguez was named to the Southern Region Second Team.
UCC basketball also had a stellar season. The men’s team finished with a 20-10 overall record and a 10-6 record within the Southern Region which was enough for UCC to claim a partial share of Southern Region championship and to punch their ticket in to the NWAC Tournament in March.
UCC made it all the way to the Final Four after defeating the Bellevue Bulldogs and the South Puget Sound Clippers but eventually fell to the Tacoma Titans 79-74.
UCC men’s basketball had two players named to the NWAC All-Tournament Second Team, freshman guards Grant Ellison and Ethan Betts.
Additionally, the RiverHawks had three players win regional awards. Ellison was named Southern Region Most Valuable Player after averaging nearly 20 ppg on 51 percent shooting. Ellison was also awarded Southern Region Freshman of the Year. Sophomore forward Jacob Danhoff was named to the Southern Region All-Defensive Team and was also named to the Southern Region Second Team. UCC’s sophomore center Jouvon Edison was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Furthermore, UCC women’s basketball had a season to remember. The RiverHawks earned a perfect 16-0 regional record for the first time under head coach Dave Stricklin’s tenure and finished with an overall record of 27-2.
The RiverHawks went in to the NWAC Tournament with a head of steam, coming in to the tournament on a 16-game win streak. UCC went on to defeat Treasure Valley and Peninsula to move on to the Final Four. The RiverHawks were then defeated by Spokane 63-58.
UCC had three players named to NWAC All-Tournament teams. Freshman forward Jordan Stotler was named to the NWAC All-Tournament First Team. Freshman forwards Daisy Powell and Bria Thames were named to the NWAC All-Tournament Second Team.
The RiverHawks had five members of the team win regional awards as well. Head coach Dave Stricklin was named Southern Region Coach of the Year. Stotler was named Southern Region Most Valuable Player, Freshman of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year. Stotler also broke the record for blocks in a single season with 123. She averaged 4.39 blocks per game this past season and is only 67 blocks away from eclipsing the NWAC All-Time Record of 189 set by Rylee Peterson in 2009.
Powell and Thames were named to the Southern Region First Team and sophomore guard Tasia Bilbrew was named to the Southern Region Second Team.
“We are extremely pleased with this past school year and the accomplishments of our athletic programs” Jackson said. “For the first time in school history, all three of our teams qualified for the NWAC Championship Tournament” Jackson continued. “In addition, all of the teams won games at the tournament, with both basketball teams reaching the Final Four.”
It’s truly an exciting time to be a part of UCC Athletics. Established programs are performing. New sports programs are on the horizon. So many great things have happened in just one year with even greater things to come.
“As a whole, the athletics are very well put together” UCC women’s basketball guard Alyssa Grenfell said. “The athletic director really knows what he’s doing, and he’s making the athletics bigger by adding more sports” Grenfell continued. “I think with more athletes on campus it’s going to be exciting to see people from around the region coming and making UCC more diverse.”