Ottawa University Arizona (OUAZ) recently broke ground on a competitive athletic field for football and soccer. Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott, city councilmembers and economic development officials joined Ottawa University President Kevin Eichner and OUAZ athletic coaches and leadership in the recent groundbreaking event at the athletic field south of the Civic Center Plaza. OUAZ Surprise, 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza, is located in the town’s Civic Center Plaza.
“OUAZ Surprise student athletes will have state-of-the-art facilities to call their home for practices and games,” said Kevin Steele, OUAZ director of athletics. “With many of our students involved in sports, we are taking great pride in creating athletic facilities that will exceed their needs and expectations.”
The 97,000 square-foot competitive athletic field for football and soccer is being built to NAIA/NCAA standards and to host national competitions. General Acrylics of Phoenix is installing AstroTurf’s Astroflect technology for the playing field. OUAZ Surprise’ AstroTurf field and Musco LED lighting are similar to the products used in the NFL.
The competitive athletic field, temporary locker rooms and storage space is expected to be complete this fall 2017. Permanent seating for 1,200 spectators at the athletic field will be finished in 2018. The City of Surprise is providing OUAZ Surprise with an additional 140 parking spaces that will be available this fall 2017.
Partners include Rummel Construction of Scottsdale, Dibble Engineering of Phoenix, Custom Complex Structures of Surprise, Cawley Architects of Phoenix and Lancer Hospitality (food service) of Minnesota.
OUAZ is currently designing other elements of its athletic complex, which will feature a three-story building with a locker room, training room, weight room and athletic offices. The press box and VIP space will be located on the top floor. An adjacent part of the first floor will have additional locker space, three gymnasiums, programming space. The athletic complex is expected to open in fall 2018, pending final design and financing.
OUAZ currently competes in the National Christian College Athletic Association and is applying for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics designations. OUAZ Surprise is competing in soccer (men’s and women’s) this year and will launch its first competitive football schedule next year. Over 170 student-athletes have enrolled at OUAZ in just these three sports. In total, OUAZ Surprise is fielding 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams.
“Ottawa University is bolstering its 40-year presence in Arizona with a thoughtfully designed residential campus to meet student growth expectations and allow students to receive a strong Christian education,” said Ottawa University President Kevin Eichner. “OUAZ’s focus on developing the whole person, providing ‘life mentoring’ opportunities and unique personal growth days, and flex term calendar has proven to be very appealing to students and their parents.”
More students are attending OUAZ Surprise this fall than initially projected. Enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students reached 434, a nearly 50 percent increase over original projections of 300 students for 2017-2018. OUAZ is targeting 3,000 residential students over the next 10 to 12 years.
OUAZ offers 21 academic programs and more than 30 student activities and associations at the Surprise campus.
OUAZ’s Adawe Center pairs a “life mentor” with each student who will remain with the student throughout their enrollment at the University, helping them identify and pursue their degrees and life paths, and preparing them to pursue their desired vocations upon graduation.
OUAZ students participate in “personal growth days” each Wednesday, where they will attend spiritual life events, select from numerous personal and professional skills development conferences and workshops, take part in volunteer or service activities, and share a meal with faculty, staff, and community members.
Ottawa University, a private, non-profit Christian university, has been operating in Arizona since 1977. Additional campuses are in Phoenix and Queen Creek.