A Note from President Oliver on #AugieMadness

A note from President Rob Oliver.


April 6, 2016


Dear Fellow Vikings,

I love a good story. A colorful setting, a spirited narrator, an inspiring cast of characters, an exciting plot, a challenging conflict and a climactic resolution. What’s better than that, right?

Today, I simply can’t think of a better story than that of our men’s basketball team winning their first-ever NCAA national championship.

What makes this story so great is that while it’s ultimately about basketball, it’s really about so much more.

It’s about a group of 14 young men who pushed themselves to do something that had never been done before.

Imagine the hundreds of thousands of shots they took, sprints they ran, and hours they practiced to get to the national championship. Imagine the sweat, the tears, and the pain they endured.

Working together through it all, they formed a close bond. If you ask the players, they’ll tell you they consider their teammates family. It’s why they broke every huddle with a collective call of “brothers.” They care about each other, look out for one another, and offer support – not just on the court, but in life, too. Theirs is a story about camaraderie, grit, drive, determination, and perseverance.

This is a story about an inspiring coach who serves as a role model for not only his team, but for thousands of others who watch him on the court as he teaches, provides guidance, celebrates victories, gives praise, and motivates these young men to push themselves further than they ever dreamed they could.

And, it’s a story about spirit. I can’t begin to thank the investors who helped us build the program and the 800-plus Augustana fans who made the trip to Frisco, Texas – many driving 12 hours straight through – in order to cheer our Vikings on to victory.

I’m also thankful for the thousands of fans who cheered our men on from their homes, via social media, and from watch parties throughout the U.S. and even around the world.

Why were they cheering? It wasn’t just so we’d win a basketball game. They were cheering for a team of 14 brothers who’d worked so hard for so long; for a coach who inspires perseverance both on and off the court; for their alma mater and all the wonderful memories they built during their four years here; and for a University that works to help students find not only a career, but a life of meaning, purpose and service.

Thank you, Augustana Vikings, for dedicating yourselves to this season, for being young men of integrity, character and faith, and for being excellent ambassadors of Augustana University; to Coach Billeter and his staff for inspiring and motivating this team; to the city of Sioux Falls and the state of South Dakota for celebrating with us, to our local media for helping to tell the story in artful ways, and to our fans for remembering that each and every day is a great day to be an Augustana Viking!

Yours, for Augustana University,
Rob Oliver
President


This message also appears as a My Voice feature in the Wednesday, April 6, issue of the Argus Leader.