Photo Courtesy of Oakland University Athletics
Oakland University Athletics blossomed throughout the 2021-22 academic year. The Golden Grizzlies had five coaches receive Horizon League Coach of the Year honors after excellent seasons in swimming and diving, men’s soccer, softball, women’s golf and baseball.
The 2021-22 season was Pete Hovland’s 42nd as the head coach of the swimming and diving team. Hovland led both the men’s and women’s teams to Horizon League championships, with the title marking the ninth consecutive combined championship for both teams.
Along with Hovland, men’s soccer coach Eric Pogue was also named the Horizon League Coach of the Year. Pogue led the men’s soccer team to a 12-7-2 overall record, and the team also posted an 8-1-1 record in the conference.
The Golden Grizzlies won seven of their last eight regular season games under Pogue to secure the regular season Horizon League title. Following the championship, Oakland continued to stay hot in the conference tournament, where it went 2-0 against UIC and Cleveland State to secure both the regular season and tournament titles.
Pogue then led the team to the NCAA Tournament. However, the hope for a Cinderella run was diminished in the first round when the Golden Grizzlies fell to Northern Illinois, 2-1. Despite the loss, it was still a remarkable season for the Oakland men’s soccer team, and Pogue played a huge role in the team’s success.
The spring sports season was especially prosperous for Oakland.
Lauren Karn did an outstanding job coaching the softball team to a Horizon League championship. After last season’s heartbreaking finish in the conference tournament championship game, Karn said ahead of this season that one of the team’s biggest goals was to win the conference this time around.
The team did exactly that. Oakland won both the conference regular season and conference tournament titles.
Karn led the team to an 18-7 Horizon League regular season record, earning it the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The team advanced to the championship game before accomplishing what last year’s team couldn’t, defeating Robert Morris 5-4 to claim the tournament title and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Alyssa Gaudio joined the long list of coaches of the year with her impressive leadership of the women’s golf team. As is common with many Coach of the Year award winners, Oakland went on to win the Horizon League championship, thanks to Gaudio’s leadership.
Gaudio played a huge role in the Golden Grizzlies’ success, but much of the credit can also be given to Amalia Shahzan. Shahzan was one of the star players on the championship-winning team, and carried Oakland to the league title.
Jordon Banfield became the fifth Oakland coach to win the league’s Coach of the Year award after a very successful baseball season. Oakland finished the year with a 31-27 overall record, marking its first winning season of the 21st century.
Banfield brought the Oakland baseball program out of the abyss, and he clearly has it headed in the right direction.