Oregon State University’s sports programs have had an incredible last week or so, and that’s great news for the mid-Willamette Valley.
First off, the OSU women’s basketball team made a splash on National Signing Day, Nov. 10, by landing its highest-rated crop of recruits.
The Beavers’ 2022 class – Timea Gardiner, Raegan Beers, Adlee Blacklock and Lily Hansford – was ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN.
A few months ago, we wrote that OSU sports had to remain Giant Killers in a new era of collegiate sports and thrive with a bit of grit, teamwork and the ability to find diamonds in the rough. Well, Scott Rueck’s squad is an outlier to that notion.
The Beavers play with determination and as a unit, of course, but they also have a lot of top talent nowadays.
In a relatively short span, OSU has become something of a perennial powerhouse under Rueck. He took over a program in turmoil. Now, he has a team that’s seemingly always ranked in the top 25 and never misses March Madness, even in “down” years.
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Amazingly, expectations will even be higher as the team moves forward.
Next up is the OSU men’s soccer squad under Philomath native Terry Boss.
The team won its first outright Pac-12 soccer title with a dramatic 2-2 tie against Washington on Nov. 11. The result capped a week in which Oregon State was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time.
And on Monday, the Beavers became the top seed in the NCAA soccer tournament. They’ll play a home game at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
This is the Beavers’ sixth trip to the tourney and their third under Boss, who became coach in 2018. The men’s soccer team at OSU also, obviously, is shaping up as a new powerhouse, and one with some international flair. Players come from Spain, France, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Denmark, England and Germany.
We’re just glad they’re playing the beautiful game in orange and black.
That’s right, the Beavs are going bowling for the first time since 2013, and there are still chances to improve the destination.
It’s a remarkable turnaround by head coach Jonathan Smith, who fans fondly remember as the quarterback for the 2001 Fiesta Bowl squad – OSU’s best football team ever.
Up until a few years ago, the Beavers were a punching bag for opponents. They were toothless. But now, Benny’s incisors look mighty once again, and there’s the sense that momentum is building for the program.
The successes of the football, men’s soccer and women’s basketball teams are worth celebrating, whether you’re a fan or not.
OSU’s sports programs essentially act much like a major league franchise for our area, and their economic impact ripples throughout Linn and Benton counties.
It all starts with locals who attend games and enjoy the dining scene before and after these events.
But visitors come to our area to see games and stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, shop at local stores, fill up their vehicles at gas stations and more. And this occurs not only in Corvallis, but in Albany and even Lebanon.
These folks might come from elsewhere in Oregon or even other states. But regardless, they’ll get to experience the charms of the mid-valley, such as our friendliness, the outstanding farm-to-table scene and the great outdoors. Maybe they’ll decide to return, even when there isn’t a sporting event. And, as our neck of the woods is within easy striking distance of the coast, the Cascades and even Portland, it makes a great base camp for exploring the Beaver State.
When the Beavers are doing well, that economic impact is magnified. Beaver fans from outside the mid-valley are more likely to travel to see a winning team. Sports fans, in general, don’t want to see their squad get shellacked.
Successful programs in certain sports also host postseason games, which provide more opportunities to profit.
Plus, as a bonus, there’s that unquantifiable sense of success that’s contagious. When the Beavers win, plenty of residents have a bit of extra pep in their step. Who doesn’t enjoy that?