Tuesday evening saw the third annual Black and Red All-Sports Awards in the Rogue River room. Though classes were furloughed for the day, many formally dressed Southern Oregon athletes returned to campus to reflect on the past year’s athletic success. Before the event, athletes were able to grange two sundae bars at their will. The event offered many tasteful toppings, but an informal survey at the conclusion of the ceremony revealed that the crumbled Oreos were the biggest hit.
Bobby Heiken, assistant associate director of athletics, began the ceremony, which after a quick introduction began with a video that showed highlights of all the sports this year. Thunderous applause and cheers erupted from various groups around the room as the victorious moment from each sport was shown. Throughout the event, prizes were raffled off that included a rolling cooler, gift cards, and a Budweiser cornhole set.
Heiken then introduced athletic director Matt Sayre, who was sure to mention, more than once, that SOU was currently at the top of the Learfeild Sports Directors’ Cup for all NAIA schools. The A.D. praised this award, which considers all NAIA institution programs and rates them according to their success. After listing all of the team’s accomplishments, Sayre spoke about the quality of student athletes that are on campus. “It’s not about choosing the right play or your starting lineup. It’s about picking the right teammates.”
Following Sayre was SOU president Roy Saigo, who has only been on campus eight months, but was at the helm for one of the most dominant athletic seasons in school’s history. After complimenting the Raider pride and success, Dr. Saigo spoke on the upcoming changes in the program, including the addition of two new sports. In conclusion, the President showed strong feelings of admiration for the students who get their work done in the classroom and on the field. “All along you guys think you’ve been playing sports, but you’ve actually been preparing for life.”
Male and female “Athletes of the Year” from each sport were called forward, one at a time, and greeted with applause throughout the room. Some presenters of the awards included: Men’s head basketball coach Brian McDermott, athletic trainer Kristy Johnson, and sports information director Josh McDermott.
The conclusion of the evening included the awards for “Coach of the Year,” “Raider Cup Team of the Year,” and the “Alumni Award.” Though many strong candidates were announced and their accolades shared, it came with little surprise that the NAIA national champs took home all the awards they were entered in. Head football coach Craig Howard was the recipient of the coaching award and received a standing ovation from many of his athletes as he went up to take his plaque. It was then the players’ turn to receive their awards. Senior Austin Dodge moved to the front of the room twice at the end of the ceremony, first as the team captain to receive the Team of the Year award, then to claim the Alumni Award.
Senior Brookelynn Cole was the recipient of the female Alumni Award. The graduating libero helped lead the Raiders to an impressive 24-7 record and their first national tournament appearance in years.
2014-2015 was a great year for SOU athletics, but the facility wants to keep raising the bar. Sayre closing words challenged all the returning athletes “Next year I want two National Championships.”