By Richard Smith
Ottawa University Arizona is inching toward its fall sports season with three teams scheduled to start practice Aug. 7 and several opening games scheduled.
While the entire football program “redshirts” and forms a leadership core with already-committed players working out, seven Spirit teams will play their seasons in the fall — women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s soccer.
Men’s and women’s tennis also will play a couple early matches, though the bulk of their season is in the spring. None of the on-campus venues in Surprise will be ready in time for the season, though campus provost Dennis Tyner said the goal is to open the main competition field in October — for both soccer teams, with football using the field starting in 2018.
The soccer squads are poised to be the university’s first teams to put on the uniform. Those teams will have exhibition matches at home on Aug. 12 and 15 against some of the area community colleges — and in this case, home for OUAZ Soccer is on the ASU West Campus at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale
“It still is our hope to play at home in October, but we are prepared to play the entire (soccer) season at ASU West,” said Derek Diesner, OUAZ sports information director.
He said both teams start their regular season Aug. 19 at Arizona Christian University. The women will start at 11 a.m. that day, with the men to follow at 1:30 p.m. Both matches will be played at the Rose Mofford Soccer Complex in Phoenix.
The men’s soccer team is slated to host its first home match on Oct. 12 against ACU, in what could be Ottawa’s first on-campus sporting event. The women’s soccer team hosts Snow College for an exhibition on Sept. 8, and then host Mills College on Sept. 10 for their home opener, both at ASU West.
The women’s volleyball team will play a pair of exhibition matches on Aug. 16 and 23 on the road, before opening up the regular season at home on Aug. 25 against the University of the Southwest from New Mexico.
As of now, Ottawa Arizona’s cross country teams will open their season on the road in Fullerton, California on Sept. 3.
“We will not host a cross country meet. We are still looking into our home course for golf. Women’s volleyball will play at Valley Vista,” Mr. Diesner said.
In the coming weeks as student-athletes complete signing up for classes and a few game contracts are finalized, the first seasons for the Spirit will come into focus.
Ottawa Arizona will compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) in 2017-18.
“We are still in the process of finalizing our rosters and schedules for the upcoming season and hope to have them released very soon,” Mr. Diesner said.
Familiar Names: Several athletes signing to play for Ottawa University Arizona in 2017-18 were not listed with our college signees because they graduated high school before 2017. But they played for local high schools. Here are a few players who signed with the Spirit:
• Cassidy Chriest, junior, women’s soccer, Peoria resident, O’Connor High School Class of 2014
• Emily Kriplean, junior, women’s soccer, Peoria resident, Peoria High School Class of 2015
• Melissa Pignatiello, freshman, women’s volleyball, Peoria resident, Cactus High School Class of 2015
• Nicole Rackley, freshman, women’s volleyball, Peoria resident, Kellis High School Class of 2016
• Jessica Youngberg, junior, women’s volleyball, Peoria resident, Centennial High School Class of 2009