Column: Women’s sports teams dominate UNC athletics, so treat them like this
Three national championships, six national semifinal appearances, two national players of the year, over a dozen first-team All-Americans.
To have won all of these accolades in the history of an athletics program would be considered an impressive achievement for almost any university.
Not at the University of North Carolina – that’s exactly what UNC sports brought in last year.
Maybe you missed seeing Austin O’Connor win the NCAA 149-pound wrestling title in March, or the women’s tennis duo of Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty win the doubles championship in May. Maybe you haven’t even heard of the UNC field hockey dynasty which has now won back-to-back championships.
The sad truth is that few self-proclaimed Tar Heel fans paid attention to the world-class athletes who added to UNC trophies this year, for the simple reason that they weren’t on the basketball teams or of football.
If you are an incoming student, you may have the preconceived notion that North Carolina is a “school of basketball,” a label that in no way represents the true nature of UNC athletics.
Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you really wanted to single out a team to define the vast array of varsity sports at UNC, you’d want to start by looking at women’s programs.
For too long, women’s sports triumphs at UNC have gone unrecognized by the average sports fan.
We’re not just the school that produced Michael Jordan, we’re the school that produced Mia Hamm.
Of the 47 NCAA Tar Heels tag team titles, the women’s teams have won 34. But you wouldn’t know that because of all the attention and coverage of the men’s programs that greatly overshadows the women’s.
UNC’s women’s teams first overtook men in all-around championships in the 1980s, when women’s collegiate sports began to gain traction, and this tendency towards dominance continues to this day.
Women’s soccer and field hockey haven’t stopped since their first titles over 30 years ago, and more recently the women’s lacrosse and women’s tennis teams have become national powers.
Over the past decade, women’s teams have won 11 championships in four sports, compared to five men’s titles.
So while you’re in all likelihood excited about the prospects of cheering on the Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium and Smith Center, don’t let that end your fandom.
After all, what has the men’s basketball team been up to lately to keep the fans excited?
For a team that placed No.16 last season, had the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, and made it into the top three recruiting classes, you can’t call a record of 18-11 and a brutal first round tournament loss anything. apart from a disappointment.
And yes, it has been great to see the rebirth of the football team under Mack Brown’s tutelage, but in reality the chances of UNC ever becoming anything but Clemson’s little brother in the ACC are incredibly slim. .
If college students are prepared to flock to the Dean Dome this year to see a declining squad, led by a rookie head coach to Hubert Davis, then they’re just as capable of bringing the same enthusiasm to supporting the women’s football team. driven by Hall of famous Anson Dorrance.
Or the field hockey team coached by Hall of Fame member Karen Shelton. Or the women’s lacrosse team coached by Hall of Fame member Jenny Levy.
You get the point.
I hope when you get to Chapel Hill you’ll quickly realize that men’s basketball and football are just two of the nearly 30 varsity athletic programs the University prides itself on, each with a winning pedigree that deserves your respect. .
So venture outside your comfort zone as a UNC fan. Grab a ticket to watch a sport you may not be familiar with, sit back and watch greatness unfold before your eyes.
You will not regret it.