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Opinion

UWRF winter sports teams continue to find success in postseason play

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March 3, 2011

The winter sports season at UW-River Falls is far from being over. The No. 1 women’s hockey team is just getting started in their quest for a national title, and the men’s basketball team earned their first ever birth to the NCAA Tournament, so they too will be fighting for a national title.

While it is worth commending these teams which have brought not only recognition to our school, but have proven that hard work and determination can take you anywhere, it is also worth noting the people behind the scenes who have brought these athletes and thus their teams to reach their fullest potential.

First, are Head Coach Joe Cranston and Assistant Coach Jeremy Weiss of the women’s hockey team.  Cranston was recently awarded his fourth NCHA Coach of the Year award after leading the Falcons to an unprecedented 20-0-4 record through this weekend’s NCHA semifinal game against Concordia University in Wisconsin

According to the Falcon athletic website, “Cranston was named the league’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time. He also won the award following the 2009, 2007 and 2003 seasons. Cranston led the Falcons to a 17-0-3 NCHA record and this is just the second time in league history that a team went unbeaten in conference games. He currently has a 192-100-29 overall record, and is 117-40-19 in NCHA games.
Cranston has coached the Falcons in each of the team’s 12 seasons.”

Before the team’s 7-1 win over St. Norbert, Assistant Coach Jeremy Weiss was honored by both Chancellor Dean Van Galen and Athletic Director Roger Turnes in a pregame ceremony that honored his commitment to the team and excellence in coaching.

On Monday, it was announced that the men’s basketball made the field of one of 61 teams in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.  The Falcons, who are 20-7 overall, will play Illinois Wesleyan University (19-8) in its first game on Friday at St. Thomas.

What may be most impressive about this Falcon basketball team is that just a season ago; they finished dead last in the conference.  However, thanks to the coaching experience of Head Coach Jeff Berkhof, the team has made an unprecedented run.

According to the Falcon’s athletic website,“Berkhof was named the league’s Coach of the Year after taking the Falcons from a last place finish in the WIAC standings in 2010 to a second place finish in 2011.

UWRF finished the regular season 19-6 this year and fashioned a school record 15 game winning streak. Berkhof then led the Falcons to the WIAC playoffs championship game — the first time a Falcon team has ever reached the title game. He has a 59-69 career record at UWRF and is in his fifth season as head coach. He is in his 19th season in some capacity as a Falcon. Before joining the coaching ranks,

Berkhof spent two seasons playing for the Falcons from 1992-94. He spent 12 seasons as the team’s No. 1 assistant coach before being named head coach before the 2006-07 season.”

So while here on campus we may be more familiar with the faces of the game and the athletic teams our fellow classmates represent, but let us take a moment and thank the Falcon coaching staff for all athletic teams, for the hard work and dedication they have put towards Falcon athletics.  For without them, the dreams of postseason and the courage to lead would be impossible.

Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.