In his first year as UC Riverside’s athletic director, Brian Wickstrom has accomplished many changes and continues to push for more. Wickstrom, since taking the position of former athletic director Stan Morrison, has stated that he wanted to get the local Riverside community and the student body involved in home games. He also wants to bring a competitive atmosphere in the athletics department itself. In my three years at UCR we always heard about plans to make UCR athletics better, but we never saw action. Wickstrom has changed that entire attitude by making significant changes.
The first change on the list was changing the UCR logo to make it more identifiable and collegiate-looking than the previous logo. While I was not sold at first with the new design, the logo has since grown on me, and I believe it was the right thing to do.
Reaching out to the community has been another goal of Wickstrom’s. Men’s soccer is the most evident of this outreach. The local community along with students have come out in numbers to watch matches, especially with the team having a winning season and scoring its first Big West postseason berth. The student body is not engaged as most would like, but I believe Wickstrom, who has been a huge advocate for the C-Center, has the potential to bring in the student body as well.
A current proposal in play is sand volleyball replacing men’s tennis. Any change comes at a cost, and I would hate to see tennis go, but sand volleyball, I believe, will be more appealing—especially if the money saved would fuel more competitiveness in other areas of UCR’s athletics.
Through a series of resignations and unrenewed contracts, Wickstrom is in the process of filling a number of coaching vacancies in several programs. With these new coaches, Wickstrom looks to change the atmosphere in the athletic department, in line with the department’s motto: “BUILDING CHAMPIONS.”
Change is always hard to accept, and push for it is just as hard. For that I commend Brian Wickstrom for pushing change in his crusade to make UCR athletics prevalent.