Tucson athletes to help Benedictine University at Mesa compete in first NAIA season


Former Catalina and Pima standout Courtney Pitts (Pima)

Former Catalina and Pima standout Courtney Pitts (Pima)

Located on Main Street in Mesa, Benedictine University at Mesa is a Roman Catholic university that branched out from Chicago a couple of years ago and is now preparing for their first season competing in the NAIA.

Last season, eight sports – men’s and women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s cross country – competed at the club level. This year, those eight programs, plus two new additions – men’s basketball and softball – will all make the jump to the NAIA level according to a news release fro the school’s athletic department.

“This is such an exciting time for Benedictine University at Mesa and our athletic department. Our staff, coaches and student-athletes are very excited to enter in to our first year as a member of the NAIA,” Director of Athletics Steve Schafer said. “We are anxious to get out there and compete so we can gauge where we are at both at the regional and national level.”

The Redhawks will also be a member of the California Pacific Conference. Although not qualified to participate in any postseason tournaments, the Redhawks will play several Cal Pac schools, which will prepare them for when they become tournament eligible in the 2016-17 season.

The athletic season begins this fall with women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s golf – which will play both in the fall and spring in a split season. Men’s basketball will start later in the fall and run through winter time, followed by tennis and softball in the spring to round out the athletic calendar.

Schafer hopes that this first full year will lead to bigger and better things for Redhawk athletics.

“We hope that this season is just a launching pad into the future,” he said. “We obviously hope to be successful this season but we also hope that it breeds even more success down the road.”

Rosters for several sports including basketball have yet to be set but here are the athletes from Southern Arizona who are currently listed:

Women’s Volleyball
Courtney Pitts, Catalina/Pima
Morgan Riesgo, Mountain View
Norma Suarez, Nogales

Men’s Volleyball
Michael Neufeldt, Ironwood Ridge
Devin Hill, Cienega

Women’s Cross Country
Raelene Yocupicio, Rio Rico
Emily Sand, St. Augustine

Women’s Golf
Paige Valles, Catalina Foothills/Pima

Avriana Jimenez, Salpointe

Portions from news release.

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at



Portions from news release.


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