What can we expect from 2014? It's a question that's pretty much been on everyone's mind since the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1.
While we can't necessarily predict the future, we can prepare for it and be ready for the successes, setbacks and other happenings along the way.
After a remarkable 2013, I've listed a few opportunities that I see coming to CSUB Athletics in 2014.
Conference basketball: While we opened WAC play this past weekend, the real meat and potatoes of the conference schedule is still to come. The winner of the regular season is at least guaranteed a spot in the NIT, the winner of the WAC basketball tournament in March heads to the field of 68 in the NCAA Tournament. Those three days in March will be the most important to date in the history of this program.
Defending a Championship: CSUB baseball entered the WAC a season early last year and won the regular-season title only to fall in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament last spring which kept them out of the NCAA Regionals. For a program that has built their success on playing as the underdog in their five-year history, it will be interesting to see how Bakersfield plays as a favorite in the WAC this season. With several new faces on the WAC baseball schedule, there will be several first-time matchups for the Roadrunners as they not only set their sights on another conference championship, but also on their first berth in the NCAA Tournament.
A new leader at the helm of men's soccer: After 27 seasons in Bakersfield, head coach Simon Tobin was hired away by conference-rival San Jose State, meaning CSUB is looking for their first men's coach in nearly three decades. Luckily, Tobin's success in Bakersfield, including a NCAA Tournament berth in 2011 and his coaching of several MLS and international pros, has put the 'Runners on the soccer map, making it an attractive destination for coaches all across the country. This is a good job for the right coach and with several pieces in place already, CSUB's next leader will have the ability to compete right away for the WAC crown and another berth into the NCAA Tournament this fall. The new head coach will also open his conference season with the Roadrunners against Coach Tobin and San Jose State this October, which should make for a good match with plenty of emotion to go around.
Volleyball Rebuilding or Reloading?: The Roadrunners finished second in 2013 in the Western Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament, just missing out on their first championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament bracket. Bakersfield is losing several key players from that run, including their setter and top hitter. This program went from a winless season in 2010 to their best year ever with 21 wins in 2013 under third-year head coach Jolene Shepardson. The ability to recruit top players to replace much of their offense will be the X factor in either taking that next step, or taking a year to rebuild. Hopefully the former is the case and CSUB can continue to improve and be a favorite in the conference tournament which they will host in November of 2014 at the Icardo Center.
Those are just a few of the things to look forward to in 2014. We don't necessarily view them as challenges anymore, but opportunities to further our brand, our program and provide a lasting experience for our students, our student-athletes and the Kern County community.
We hope you'll join us for the ride in 2014, because history is there for the taking on several fronts; and there's nothing like a front-row seat to witness history.
COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.