Sports editor recaps an exciting year of BG sports

Hard to believe this year is over already, right?

Back in August, in our first issue of the year, I wrote about all the things people had to look forward to this year  — most notably, the opening of the Stroh Center, as well as a number of young, talented teams on campus that could make some noise this year.

Never did I think that so much would happen this year.

First and foremost, the Stroh Center was everything it was expected to be and maybe more. The volleyball team kicked it off by sweeping the Best Western Invitational in September, en route to 12 straight wins to start the season.

It also provided a huge home-court advantage to both basketball teams. The BG men’s and women’s basketball teams had a combined 26-6 record at home this season. That’s a .812 win percentage — pretty solid no matter how you slice it.

Second, two of the most successful coaches in BG history stepped away from their positions for different reasons. Volleyball coach Denise Van De Walle retired after 29 seasons as a Falcon and women’s basketball coach Curt Miller left for the greener pastures of the Big Ten at Indiana.

Heading into the year, we knew it would be Van De Walle’s farewell tour; she announced last year that 2011 would be her final season. Miller’s departure, while not a huge surprise, came as a shock nonetheless, especially after carrying out one of the most impressive coaching displays of his career this season.

The school also garnered national attention for hosting the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament, with eventual National Champion Baylor defeating UC-Santa Barbara and Florida on its way to an undefeated season.

And then there was the hockey team. After a dreadful start to the season, the Falcons buckled down late and advanced to the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 2001.

In the process, the attendance record at the Ice Arena was broken, with 5,031 fans showing up to watch the team’s regular season finale against Michigan.

More recently, there hasn’t been a more remarkable story than the BG softball team. With four games to go in the season, the Falcons have 34 wins. The past three seasons, they won 38 combined games, including only 12 last season. Their plus-22 win differential is the highest in the nation.

That is the streamlined version of what happened this year.

Overall, it was an incredibly exciting year in BG sports. I think I speak for all of our writers when I say it was awesome to be able to write about so much cool stuff happening this year.

At the same time, there is so much more to look forward to next year. The football team starts its season against the University of Florida before eventually playing another BCS school in Virginia Tech.

The hockey team will welcome two Frozen Four teams from this season (Union and Ferris State) to the Ice Arena within the first month of next season. Additionally, BG will be hosting a first round regional of the NCAA Hockey Tournament next year at Huntington Center in Toledo.

As I wrap up my final column as sports editor at The BG News, I’d like to thank each of you who have picked up the paper this year. As I said in August, our goal is to keep you informed, and that is the reason we do this throughout the year.

I hope that you will join us again next year for another go around. We have a lot of cool new stuff planned for next year that will develop during the summer that I’d like to think will only improve our coverage going forward.