The first day of classes is still weeks away, but many of our student-athletes are already on campus, hard at work preparing for the fall season. Here are five things to watch for in SU athletics this autumn.
1. Kicking off: The women's soccer team gets the fall 2013 season rolling by welcoming the Washington State Cougars to Championship Field at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23. Julie Woodward's squad, which reached the Western Athletic Conference semifinals last year, has been picked to finish first in the WAC pre-season poll. Go Redhawks!
2. A first: History will be made on Nov. 2 when SU hosts its first-ever Western Athletic Conference championship event, the Cross Country Championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course. And that is just the start of what will be a very busy day for SU athletics, with the women's basketball team playing an exhibition game in the afternoon and volleyball facing New Mexico State in the evening.
3. Dig this: SU's volleyball program enters a new era this season as James Finley takes the helm as head coach. Finley was previously head coach of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he compiled a 151-116 (.566) record from 2005 to 2012 and led the team to four conference championship matches, including the 2005 Colonial Athletic Association tournament title. The Redhawks host their first conference weekend in late September, facing CSU Bakersfield Sept. 26, and Utah Valley University Sept. 28 at Connolly Center.
4. Deuces are wild: Men's soccer head coach Pete Fewing enters the second year of his second stint with SU, hoping the two national championships to which he previously led the Redhawks will rub off on his 2013 team. This will be the team's first year in the WAC now that the conference sponsors men's soccer as a championship sport. Among the many anticipated matches to circle on the calendar is Oct. 8 when the Redhawks host their cross-town rival, the Washington Huskies. You can bet that Championship Field will be hopping!
5. Ch-ch-ch-changes: The WAC welcomes six new members this year. Which means that our own Rudy the Redhawk will mix it up with the Roadrunner (CSU Bakersfield), Southside T. Cougar (Chicago State University), Thunder the Antelope (Grand Canyon University), Kasey the Kangaroo (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Bucky the Bronc (University of Texas Pan American) and Willy the Wolverine (Utah Valley University). Of course, let's not forget returning WAC members Joe Vandal (University of Idaho) and Pistol Pete (University of New Mexico State).
For the most up-to-date information on all 20 of SU's NCAA-sponsored sports, visit www.GoSeattleU.com.