Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 9:08 am | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
In writing columns such as this, I have to be careful not to single out individuals or programs too often as I run the risk of overlooking one group or putting too much attention in one area. However, this has been a special year for a wonderful group of students at Valley City State University who deserve that kind of "singling out."

During the past year, we have experienced athletic history at VCSU. The 2010-11 VCSU Women's basketball team achieved some milestones that have never been achieved by any previous teams. The team won 23 games, more than any VCSU Women's team has ever won. The team advanced to the NAIA National Playoffs for the first time in program history. This year's team also won the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) playoff tournament championship for the first time in the eleven-year history of the DAC. These are the accomplishments that have been celebrated during the past few weeks. However, in looking a bit closer at this special team, there is so much that is even more fascinating and worthy of our attention.

First, with the most recent results available through the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, the VCSU Women's Basketball team finished second in the nation in overall team Grade Point Average among all NAIA institutions. The team had a 3.688 team GPA on a four-point scale in 2009-10. This is further evidenced with the fact that VCSU had five women who were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes in 2010-11; this is the most in the DAC, and among all 144 NAIA Division II Women's basketball programs, only two schools had more Scholar Athletes. Clearly, this is a group of student-athletes who put the 'student' first and succeed not just on the court, but also in the classroom.

Next, it is appropriate to write a few words about perseverance and determination. This is a team that just three short years ago were winless in the DAC going 0-14. This is mentioned not to bring up bad memories of a difficult season, but to focus on how very far this program has come in such a short period of time. VCSU Women's Basketball is now competing on the national stage and building a foundation for future successful seasons, and this is just three years removed from a very low point in program history.

For further evidence of perseverance, consider VCSU's home facility and athletic conference issues. Less than two years ago, Osmon Fieldhouse was closed for half the season due to structural concerns. Additionally, with the departure of several schools, there have been numerous questions regarding the DAC and future conference options. Certainly the combination of a winless season, a home court in disrepair, and questions about conference affiliation would not make a coach's job of recruiting or a player's job of focusing any easier. But this is a special group – from coaches to players – who have been determined to succeed despite the challenges. Much of life is about how we respond to obstacles thrown our way, and this team has shown us how determination and perseverance pay off!

Among all of the wonderful team accomplishments, there were also some impressive individuals honored as well. Amanda Brown was named First-Team All-DAC, Caitlyn Wojahn was named Third-Team All-DAC, and, Jill DeVries was named a very well-deserved DAC Coach of the Year. It will be exciting to watch the Women's Basketball program grow at VCSU in the coming years, but there is no doubt that the 2010-11 team will go down in history for all they have accomplished, and the great manner in which they have represented Valley City State University this past year.