Women’s sports at UCF excel despite being overshadowed
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 17:02
Does the name Michelle Akers ring a bell to any products of Generation Y?
One of the many soccer stars of the 1990s, Akers won two Women's World Cups with the United States National Team alongside Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. In 1991, she earned the highest of honors as the winner of the Golden Boot, an award given to the top scorer in the tournament. In 2004, Akers and Hamm were the only women selected to the FIFA100, a list that established 125 of the greatest living soccer players.
She went to UCF.
Since 1982, the women's soccer team here at UCF has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, doing so more than any other school in the state of Florida. Last year, they made it to the quarterfinals becoming the first unseeded team to beat the University of North Carolina Tarheels in tournament history.
In comparison, the men's soccer team has done well but has made seven appearances (nine fewer than women's soccer) in an NCAA tournament. The team has yet to break out of the first round. The last time the women won the conference during the regular season was in 2010. It's been a seven-year drought for the men.
1996, 1999, 2009, 2011: the years that the UCF women's basketball team made appearances in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level.
Last year, the Knights took care of Conference USA handily, posting a 12-4 record to clinch the conference. Being C-USA Champions is becoming more and more of an expectation for this team as it has been crowned two out of the last three years.
During this year's campaign, the men's team has shown flashes of greatness. Beating then-ranked No. 4 UConn on national television will always be a stand-out game. However, UCF men's basketball hasn't won the conference since converting from the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005.
The excuses for not supporting UCF's biggest winners are ever flowing. Women's sports are too slow, there's no real competition, the highlight reel moments are few and far between, and no one else supports it, so why should I?
How about rooting for the people representing the name on your degree? How about the possibility that these women just might be the next Michelle Akers or conference champions?
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national poll released this week, the Knights earned the highest ranking in school history. They are currently fifth in the nation.
Freshman Octavious Freeman, who decided to attend UCF instead of trying to compete in the 2012 Olympics, owns the nation's fastest time in the 60-meter dash during the season thus far.
Additionally, the women's softball team, founded in 2002, has already made three NCAA tournament appearances. The Knights were conference tournament champions in 2005 and 2008.
While everyone pays attention to the men, waiting for a coach or player to make the team a consistent winner, the women are giving their all to achieve greatness. The UCF women possess résumés to prove that they, in some instances, already have.
Imagine the flags lining Bright House Networks Stadium if the women of UCF had a football team.