With the loss of many talented student-athletes after the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year and sports seasons, UAA coaches are in recruitment mode to rebuild their teams. A majority of teams have made official announcements and have signed on new athletes, while some are keeping the information private.
As of now, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, skiing and gymnastics have announced official additions. The only teams lacking public information through UAA Athletics is cross-country and track and field.
Through UAA Athletic’s official signings, volleyball has two new freshmen, men’s basketball with four, women’s basketball with three, hockey with twelve, skiing with one and gymnastics with one. These additions only include first-time freshmen and not transfers.
For volleyball, the additions include Jalisa Ingram from Flagstaff, Arizona, Vera Pluharova from Nechanice, Czech Republic and Casey Davenport from Auburn, Washington.
Pluharova is one of many freshmen that comes from out of the country. From the Czech Republic, Pluharova ultimately decided to come to UAA because of the ample opportunities it offers.
“I was offered a scholarship at UAA first, then I decided to go there because Czech universities don’t offer the opportunity to play a sport and study,” Pluharova said. “I would like to become as good as possible, and with the UAA team, I think I will have to opportunity to excel.”
Recruitment at UAA often spans not just across of the nation but worldwide with athletes coming from thirteen foreign countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Kenya, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.
Pluharova is just one of many who was given an exceptional opportunity at UAA.
Staying mostly local, men’s basketball acquired Kylan Osborne from Anchorage, Brennan Rymer from Sydney, Australia, Eric Jenkins from Anchorage and Austin White from Ninilchik.
As noted in a previous article from The Northern Light, the upcoming basketball season and team for the 2017-18 year holds an interesting twist as Kylan Osborne steps onto the team with his father, Rusty Osborne, still holds the position as the head coach.
As for women’s basketball, Nicole Pinckney from Chugiak, Sala Langi from Pacifica, California and Tennae Voliva from Anchorage.
With another unique set of circumstances, Sala Langi joins the teams as a first-time freshman but as a junior-transfer, Sala’s older sister Victoria Langi is also joining the Seawolves from Skyline College in California.
Staying mostly local, Pinckney chose the opposite course by staying close to home only coming from Chugiak.
“I wanted to stay close to family and friends, that way they could come to watch games,” Pinckney said. “I had watched many of the UAA women’s basketball games when I was younger, and I always thought it would be cool to be like them and be able to play at UAA. It just felt like the right place to go, and not to mention they are three time [Great Northwest Athletic Conference] champs.”
UAA also benefits from Pinckney’s valuable skills. In her senior year in high school, she hit over 1,000 career points and was nominated as the McDonald’s All-American for her 2016-17 season. This success she gained in high school only solidified her motivation to play collegiate basketball.
“These next couple years I just want to become the best basketball player I can be, gain new friends and family along the way, and make the UAA trophy collection grow,” Pinckney said.
With the largest amount of additions, hockey added twelve freshmen: Brody Claeys from Manitoba, Canada; Drake Glover from Anchorage; Joe Sofo from Sylvania, Ohio; Brandon Switzer from Manitoba, Canada; Jason Lavallee from Quebec, Canada; Cameron Trott from British Columbia, Canada; Eric Sinclair from Ontario, Canada; Jondan Xavier from Alberta, Canada; Trey deGraff from Alberta, Canada; Kristian Stead from British Columbia, Canada; Aaron McPheters from Anchorage; Zac Masson from Ontario, Canada; and Mason Anderson from Anchorage. Anderson redshirted his 2016-17 season but is now playing with freshmen eligibility.
Glover, another local, shares similar opinions as Pinckney for choosing to stay at UAA and looking forward to the next four years.
“I’ve always watched UAA hockey growing up, being from Anchorage, and I’ve always imagined myself playing here. So to actually be able to is unbelievable,” Glover said. “I think one of my goals would be to win a conference championship and go to the NCAA tournament. That would be an unreal experience and it would great for the program.”
Although Glover is coming in as a first-time, local freshman, he competed in a junior hockey league since 2014. The 6’0″ forward played for the Weyburn Red Wings from 2014-2016 until transitioning into the North American Hockey League for his last year of juniors.
Glover led the Lone Star Brahmas to their first Robertson Cup and earned playoff MVP honors with 12 points in 11 games during regular season games.
“I think my biggest accomplishment would be winning the league championship last year and it being my last year of junior hockey it was a pretty special way to end my junior career,” Glover said.
Glover is the only first-time freshmen joining the team this year as a local. The vast majority of the newcomers on the hockey team are from Canada, with nine of the twelve freshmen originating from varying provinces.
Skiing and gymnastics currently have the least amount of official new recruits, with skiing gaining Annika Hansen from Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and gymnastics gaining Newport News, Virginia local Hope Nelson.
Both under Associate Athletic Director and Head Coach Michael Friess’ lead, the cross country and track and field teams have no publicly acknowledged recruits.
To stay tuned with the upcoming UAA sport’s seasons, check out the volleyball team’s first home game on Sept. 7 at the Alaska Airlines Center or visit www.goseawolves.com for the full athletic schedule.