Two-time all-conference first-team player, four-time conference player of the week, a part of the American Athletic Academic team and conference defensive player of the year: All of those accolades aren't from a football or basketball player, but rather from UCF volleyball's very own middle blocker DeLaina Sarden.
Heading into her senior season, she's had a very decorated career thus far.
My question is: Why don't we know about her?
I understand that football is just one of those sports that brings people together. It's a different type of team sport than volleyball. But I'm sure Sarden and her teammates would argue that they have the same expectations and work just as hard at perfecting their craft as any other athlete.
So why don't we give them the same attention?
UCF Athletics makes plenty of attempts to try to pick up the attendance at these games, whether it be through promotional items or Knightmare rewards, and they've even given early-entrance passes to one of last season's football games. But it seems to never stick.
I think the problem is that we don't take enough to time to try to learn about what we don't know. A lot of people don't understand volleyball nor have never seen a game and therefore don't give it a chance. We have great talent here at UCF, but we don't take nearly as much time to recognize or celebrate them as we should.
It seems that we, as students, come back from summer break, get pumped and ready for football and tailgate until our skin is toasted. Then it seems like sports die as winter rolls around. There are tons of other student-athletes who are also passionate and work hard to try to balance athletics and academics.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. If we make the effort to go to more of the games that go under the radar, you may be surprised how fast things can catch on and gain traction. The athletes would surely appreciate it.
I'm starting with the woman in the mirror.