Nick Knacks

Column: With All Eyes on Men’s Basketball, Fall Sports Also Deserve Attention

Henry Redman | The PhoenixIf the men’s basketball team makes the NCAA Tournament, both the team and the school would benefit from the exposure.

To returning students: Welcome back. To the incoming Class of 2022: Welcome to Loyola.

To all students: This is an exciting time for Loyola Athletics. Sit back and enjoy the show.

My name’s Nick Schultz, and I’m the sports editor of The Phoenix this year. My job is to cover Loyola Athletics and the Chicago sports scene so you’re informed on everything that happens inside Loyola’s athletics department and beyond.

That said, I have a challenge for you: Go to games. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but you’d be surprised at how tough that’s been in recent years.

Last year, The Phoenix reported on the low student turnout at athletics events, particularly men’s basketball. That’s all appearing to change, as The Phoenix reports the Ramblers’ historic Final Four run last year caught the attention of the Class of 2022.

The Phoenix also reported Loyola’s March Madness run resulted in an estimated $300 million worth of media exposure and played a role in the 660 percent increase of athletics department donations.

Loyola Athletics is on the map, and it couldn’t come at a better time with fall sports starting.

Of the seven fall sports at Loyola, four were picked to finish in the top five of their respective Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) preseason polls. The women’s soccer team was picked to win the MVC, while men’s soccer was picked to finish second. The women’s cross country team was picked to finish second in the MVC and men’s cross country was picked fourth.

Loyola women’s golf, led by senior All-MVC golfer Elayna Bowser, finished tied for fourth at the MVC championship last year — the Ramblers’ highest finish at the tournament. However, the team underwent a coaching change. Even though golf’s an individual sport, a new coaching philosophy could impact the golfers’ performances.

Women’s volleyball was picked to finish eighth out of 10 MVC teams in this season’s preseason poll after going 5-19 last year — one of the worst seasons in program history — and revamping the coaching staff. Although everyone’s returning from the 2017-18 roster, this season could be a rollercoaster ride given the coaching changes.

The men’s golf team finished eighth out of nine teams at last season’s MVC championship, with four Ramblers carding rounds higher than 80. The entire starting lineup returns from last year, but the golfers need to stay below 80. If that happens, they’ll be able to slide up the leaderboard.

Don’t worry, basketball fans. The season starts in just 76 days. Until then, give the fall sports some love. Trust me when I say the student-athletes appreciate seeing their peers at games.

If you haven’t noticed, Loyola’s soccer and softball teams don’t play on campus. They play at Hoyne Field — one mile west of the Lake Shore Campus at Devon and Hoyne. It’s an easy ride on the 155 CTA bus.

Loyola students ride the CTA for free during the school year. Carve out some study breaks to go watch some quality soccer this fall.

If you don’t understand a sport, there’s still time to learn. Let me tell you, I barely understand soccer and I’m being tasked with helping cover the teams this year. If I can learn it, you can, too.

If there’s anything you want us to write about this year — whether it be a clarification or if there’s something you want to know more about — email us at phoenixsports63@gmail.com. Our target audience is you, the Loyola student body.

I leave you with one question: Are you up to the challenge?

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