Good Sports: Fresno Pacific athletics advancing

FRESNO, Calif.

The sounds of change are filling Fresno Pacific University campus, with the athletic department experiencing the most extensive overhaul.

The Sunbirds just began year two of a three-year transition from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II - a change that affects much more than just the athletic program.

"So financial aid, housing, the registrar's office, admissions. The process really impacts the whole entire university. It's not an athletics move. It's an institution move," Senior Associate Athletics Director Leslie Schuemann said.

Fresno Pacific is working to improve its athletic facilities, like building a weight room shared with the entire student population and upgrading existing structures.

"We have great facilities for the student athlete. We need to upgrade our facilities for the fan experience," FPU director of athletics Dennis Janzen said.

But one thing that hasn't changed is FPU's varsity sports winning. Out of its NAIA transition class of 12 other universities the Sunbird women's volleyball team is the only one ranked in the D-II top 25.

"We're really enjoying the transition. It's been great. We've had success, which is just an indication of how good our team is this year," FPU women's volleyball coach Kelly Winter said.

With a strong tradition of success that includes six NAIA national titles, Coach Winter says FPU's transitioning status won't affect her team's ability to keep winning at the Division II level.

"Our goal really is, and what we keep telling the girls over the next two years is to earn respect. It's to earn respect on the court by playing the best volleyball we can every single night," Winter said. "Not only do we want excellence in athletics and excellence in academics, but we want to create great community folks. We want to create great leaders."

Taking a look at the early results on and off the court, so far so good.

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