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The Importance of Sun Devil Athletics to ASU’s AZ Born/Raised Athletes

Nov 8, 2022

ASU offers 26 varsity-level sports teams made up of over 600 students. These students made their way to ASU not only from all over the country but from across the globe as well. However, not all of these athletes had nearly as far of a journey to get to Tempe.

As always, many athletes are born and/or raised Arizonans and felt drawn to stay in-state for many different reasons, whether it's from having the comfort of being in a familiar space, growing up knowing the school's athletics reputation, or carrying on family traditions or legacies.

Having in-state athletes isn't as common as it used to be. Ashley Menne, a junior on women's golf, said "It's really rare to meet someone who plays for the school in the state that they were born or raised in." 

"I know a lot of the athletes here and have a bunch of international teammates as well. It means a lot to say that I'm from here, and I'm proud to represent my state," Menne said.

Swimmer Evan Nail mentioned that he had even considered going to the University of Arizona, but changed his mind after his grandfather gave him some advice. 

"My grandpa sat me down and said, 'You're never going to have as much support as you have right now if you go away.' So, it was pretty easy to come here and have just as much support than I otherwise would," Nail said.

For some, the connections to ASU began at a young age. Christian Osterndorf, a sophomore on the men's swim and dive team, said "I tried out for my very first swim team at the Mona Plummer Aquatics Center. It came full circle." 

Junior beach volleyball player Taryn Ames said, "It feels like I've been surrounded by ASU's athletics my entire life."

"My favorite part about being from Arizona and playing for ASU is having that deeper connection with being able to wear the name 'Arizona State University.' I have so much pride in representing Arizona," Ames said. "It truly is a privilege to play for the best school in my home state."

For some athletes, continuing their family's legacies while they were a part of Sun Devil Athletics was also a driving factor. Freshman athletes Isaia Glass (football) and Ryan King (men's swim and dive) are both continuing their father's legacies in their respective sports. 

Glass said, "I've spent most of my life in Arizona, it's home to me. It's a cool opportunity to represent this university and continue that family legacy."

"My dad was a swimmer here, so I'd go to every game growing up," King said. "I grew up a Sun Devil."

With over 300,00 ASU alumni in Arizona alone, it's no surprise that plenty of in-state students felt inspired to be a part of Sun Devil nation to continue in their family's footsteps.

Sophomore swimmer Jeremy Graunke explained, "Both of my older siblings went to ASU for their undergrad for engineering. My sister even went here to get her doctorate in nursing. Academic-wise, ASU has just always been there for my family."

It's clear why in-state athletes are enticed by ASU's athletics program. Whether they want to continue their family's legacy, want to be a part of Sun Devil tradition, or take pride in their home state, it's evident that the Arizona-born and raised athletes take pride in what it means to be a Sun Devil.

Sophomore Daniel Matheson on men's swim and dive said it best: "If you grow up in Arizona, you care about ASU. You care what it means to be a Sun Devil."