PLNU: Sports School?

When many make their inaugural visit to Point Loma Nazarene University’s campus, the athletics are not what stick out. The stunning views of the sun and sea typically draw attention to themselves and away from the idea of athletic prowess. After all, the school doesn’t even have a football team.

However, since September 2021, the Sea Lions have boasted a baseball team that finished as the national runner up with a 51-10 record, a women’s soccer squad that won yet another PacWest Championship, a men’s tennis squad that logged a win in the PacWest tournament, a NCAA tournament berth from men’s basketball, and a breakout season for women’s volleyball among many others. 

Seemingly wherever you look in the Sea Lion’s athletic department there is success, whether it be by teams or individual players. PLNU has acted as the home for many future professional athletes and record-setters alike. Relief pitcher Zachary Veen was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2022 MLB Draft, and teammate third baseman Otto Kemp was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted free agent. Both have recently finished up their first season of rookie ball in the minor leagues. 

PLNU volleyball’s senior defensive specialist Courtney Dyer recently set the all-time record at PLNU for career service aces, ranking fourth all time in the PacWest Conference’s history. She has helped lead the Sea Lions to a 15-6 record, the best season they’ve had since 2014. 

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Athletic Director Ethan Hamilton attributed the sustained success of athletics across all sports to all the people associated with the department and their hard work day in and day out. 

“The success of PLNU Athletics is due to the great work of so many people in our department and throughout the university,” Hamilton said. “In athletics, we are incredibly fortunate to have coaches and staff members who are gifted at what they do and are tremendous leaders of young men and women.”

The strong leadership throughout the department is seen when examining what drives each individual team. Leaders like women’s soccer head coach Kristi Kiely, baseball head coach Justin James, and men’s basketball head coach Matt Logie are just a few of the many men and women who have committed themselves to not only lead their teams to success, but to grow their players into virtuous men and women. 

“I have often said that hiring the right people for the right positions is the most important thing we do. This is why our hiring processes for new coaches and athletics staff on campus are very extensive, as we want to ensure that each hire fits in with the overall mission of the department and university,” Hamilton said. 

With three PacWest Championships claimed in the past year, PLNU has made it clear that its core values need not be sacrificed in order to earn some hardwear. Second-year business administration major Sergio Reyes said that not only did the school’s athletic achievements surprise him, it has added to his sense of school pride. 

“It has definitely surprised me. I didn’t expect a smaller Christian university to have decent sports,” Reyes said. “The athletic success has definitely added to the pride I have for my school. I’m excited to see what happens in the years to come.” 

Since the move from NAIA to NCAA DII in the summer of 2014, PLNU has thrived in almost every athletic facet. There may be a time in the future when Point Loma is viewed as a DII powerhouse across multiple sports.

Written By: Cade Cavin