SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 19, 2016) -- During a special ceremony on Monday, Sept. 19, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) commemorated the 10th anniversary of its membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Athletic Director Jack Hank said, "It's been a glorious decade of Saints athletics, and I am very proud of all that we have accomplished in such a short time. We started with a dream, but we were vigilant in our pursuit of putting together a quality program. We had to do it right, and we did. Ten years later, we have 16 regular season conference championships and 11 conference tournament championships, plus 21 of our teams have play on a national platform. And, 15 individuals have qualified for nationals as well. We are very proud and blessed."
One of the most successful teams at OLLU is the women's basketball team, and on hand to present Head Coach Christopher Minner and Assistant Coach Katie Peebles was Texas State Senator José Menendez. He presented the team with a state resolution (pictured at left). In addition, Senator Menendez presented Hank with a state resolution commemorating the 10th anniversary of athletics. "I want to invite all of the championship teams to visit the State Capitol in Austin so that we can recognize you on the floor of the Capitol. I want to celebrate your achievements."
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus (pictured below) also spoke during the event, saying how proud he was for OLLU. "In 2008 after the fire, I did not think the University would survive, but you persevered and we are all very proud of your commitment and resolve."
The Saints began their foray into competitive intercollegiate athletics in the fall of 2007 with a men's soccer team and a women's volleyball team. Soccer Head Coach
Voice of the Saints Jay Tope, who introduced the men's soccer team, continued with the volleyball team and followed with women's soccer, men's tennis and men's golf – all three started competing in 2008.
He concluded with baseball and track and field – both started in 2014. The University now sponsors 13 intercollegiate athletic teams.
"Athletics at OLLU has come a long way since kicking that first soccer ball and hitting that first volleyball in 2007," President Diane E. Melby, EdD, said prior to the event; she was not able to make the pep rally because of a prior commitment in Austin at the Texas Education and Workforce Summit. "Our enrollment has increased by 28 percent. Our teams have all had winnings season, plus we have graduated close to 200 student athletes. I couldn't be more proud."
Our Lady of the Lake is proud to have received three consecutive Red River Athletic Conference's All-Sports Awards. The award honors the top school that performs best across the conference's sports in a given academic year. The Saints won the award at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season with 136 points – 59 points more than the second-place finisher.
NAIA All-American status has been earned by 25 OLLU student-athletes – two were named to the NAIA All-American First Team; seven received Second Team honors; and 16 were named to the Honorable Mention Team.
More than 500 student-athletes have been recognized as conference scholar athletes. Sixty one have received NAIA Scholar Athlete honors. Four were recognized as Academic All-Americans, while 23 received Academic All-District honors. Eight teams have earned NAIA Scholar Team recognition.
Four members of the University's inaugural Athletic Department staff continue their positions at OLLU. They include Jack Hank (middle), Vice President for Student Life/Athletic Director; Adrienne Rodriguez (far left), Associate Athletic Director/Director of Campus Recreation; Patty Constantin (second from left), Sports Information Director; and Shane Hurley (far right), Men's Soccer Coach. In addition, Women's Soccer Coach Arthur Salazar (second from right) was a student-athlete and member of the inaugural men's soccer team in 2007.
Hank said, "Time has flown by since we put our plans in motion in 2006 and began in 2007. Students, faculty, staff and alumni have dedicated so much time and effort to ensure the success of our program. They've all worked diligently to establish OLLU as one of the best athletic programs in the nation. I am proud of our achievements, and we thank our Provident God for his blessings upon OLLU."
Throughout the 2016-2017 season, all student-athletes who played at OLLU and who graduated, will receive free admission to home volleyball and home basketball games – all other home games (soccer, softball and tennis) are free. Alumni attending may bring up to two family members for free admission.