Seasons in the sun
[Chico sports teams have plenty to brag about]
There are those who would like to make a big deal about the fact that Chico State axed its football program in 1997. But you know what? Big deal. If you were looking to get noticed by the NFL, you’d probably be more at home at a school in Alabama or somewhere anyway. Besides, what Chico lacks in pigskin, it makes up for in horsehide, hustle and hall of fame play in plenty of other sports.
Take baseball. Thanks to generous support from Chico’s now-defunct pro team (the Chico Heat), CSUC boasts one of the best college ball parks in the state, with winning teams in both men’s and women’s play to match. The Wildcats, led by 400-game-winning coach Lindsay Meggs, tied for second in their league this season. Last year, they barely lost a national championship to Columbus State, but before that, they were two-for-three in Division II championships.
Basketball at Chico State is also popular, and the teams never fail to put on a good show. While the men finished third in conference play this year and the women seeded at eighth, both teams fought valiantly against well-established opponents. Both teams also placed members onto their respective All-CCAA teams, including Scott Land, who was the second-best scorer in the conference.
In track and field, the Wildcat men held the 2002 CCAA title, while the women’s team placed a respectable third. Both teams placed second at the championships this year. High jumper Justin May went undefeated in his event during the regular season, helping to bring the team into the finals. The ‘Cats sent 15 track and fielders to the NCAA II Outdoor National Championships in 2003, including several who ranked among the top three players nationwide.
Golf is another Chico success story. After a wild year, the men’s team was invited to compete at the NCAAII championships in Sunriver, Ore. Men’s golfer J.J. Jakovac, who won the conference’s individual title in 2002, was named CCAA golfer of the year, representing the United States in a match against Japan. Women’s golf at Chico is just getting good, with at least one player competing in the Western Regional tournament this year.
And those are just the official teams. For students who want to travel, compete and make friends outside of the NCAA, there are dozens of opportunities to do so playing recreational sports. By far the most popular sports activities among Chico State students are the club and intramural teams, where participants often play and compete as much for the sheer enjoyment of it as for the glory of winning at tournaments. Intramurals are played among Chico students and are most popular in Greek circles. Club sports teams compete against other colleges across the country, often playing—and winning—against much bigger schools.
Chico club sports include:
Bowling—a co-ed team that only recently began to compete.
Lacrosse—a popular and highly physical sport in which Chico has made a strong showing in both men’s and women’s play.
Inline hockey—Chico has the No. 1 team in California.
Olympic lifting—a brand-new team that Chico has high hopes for as it develops.
Rugby—the women’s team has gone undefeated in two seasons and racked up loads of titles, including a national championship. In men’s rugby, around 150 players are spread out among three squads, making it one of the most popular sports around.
Ultimate Frisbee—both men and women compete in this crazy, goofy game that crosses pinpoint disc-passing with the strategies of soccer and football. These teams do a lot of traveling and have a ton of fun.
Volleyball—a new women’s team placed in the top 10 in national competition.
Water polo—has a men’s and a successful women’s team.
Water-skiing—this team has its own speedboat and lots of places to practice. They’ve made it to the nationals three out of four years in a row.
Trading card - Bruce Hagerty, Chico Chief of Police
Trading card - Matt Hogan, Mr. Lucky’s owner