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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Louisville?


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THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

- Why Louisville?

( Staff Columnist Jenny delivers a stirring statement in today's CARDINAL COUPLE on why the red and black is her school to back. 
WE share her passion and hope you enjoy today's tribute.)  



There is a store on Bardstown Road in the heart of the Highlands that caters to the uniqueness, and sometimes quirkiness, of Louisville.  It is a store that aspires to “Keep Louisville Weird” in a part of town that caters to locally owned, independent businesses.    From the Kentucky Derby Festival, the ever growing and popular Zombie Walk, The Lebowski Fest and Forecastle Festival (and many, many other wonderful things), there are plenty of things interesting and different about Louisville that make me proud to call it home.  

This got me thinking about my passion that surrounds Louisville Women’s Basketball and my growing love for the University of Louisville Women’s Athletics programs, in general.  Why Louisville?

My interest in Louisville basketball was mostly by chance.  I went to college locally, but at what was then, Bellarmine College.  I was an ardent fan of women’s basketball there as I spent several years rooming with basketball players.  That is where my interest started. 

Years later...having been away from the game for far too long, with a more settled life, a stable income and a young stepdaughter in my life who had cycled through an array of sports until she found her niche (volleyball), I found my way back to basketball.    In an effort to expose her to female athletic role models, I found my way to a Louisville Women’s Basketball game, at Bellarmine (perhaps a Holiday tournament?).    My stepdaughter sat on the concrete of the bottom row of the student section and watched the cheerleaders all night.  For me, my love for the game was renewed. 

The very next season I was at every home game at Freedom Hall.   A fiery player out of Baltimore was the talk of the team, hometown star Candyce Bingham was back playing in the ‘Ville and Louisville Women’s Basketball started making some noise.  It wasn’t too long before I found myself in St. Louis in April of 2009 cheering on Louisville basketball in the National Championship game.   Some say I entered fandom at the exact moment in time to “hook” me. 

In the six years that I have been following Louisville Basketball, a lot has happened.  Gone are the days of Freedom Hall games and 2,000+ fans, instead I find myself sitting 4 rows behind the bench in a swanky new arena, an average of 10,000+ fans per home game, and occasional sell out crowds of 22,000+ fans.   Top recruits are choosing Louisville and the program is becoming a constant in the top 10-15 ranked basketball programs in the country.   

While my love for the program has grown exponentially in the last six years, so too has the program itself.  While my history with the program has been limited in scope, it does not make me any less of a fan.  The same holds true for the program.  While Louisville Women’s Basketball does not have the storied past of other top programs, it is still a top program.  I would even venture to say that watching and being a part of the building of a top program is an extraordinary and exciting time. 

 The people of Louisville are flocking to Louisville Women’s Basketball.   A star and future #1 WNBA Draft in Angel McCoughtry had to have a hand in this.  A young, energetic and fiery Coach, maybe he has had something to do with it?  How about a state of the art facility to call home in the KFC YUM! Center?   Sure, it all matters.   Whatever the reason, Cardinal fans are coming in droves to see their women’s basketball team.  The attendance numbers are rising, not holding steady or declining.  Louisville Women’s Basketball is alive and well, spirited fans and growing attendance makes Louisville Women’s Basketball must see events. 

Finding and becoming a staff writer for Cardinal Couple has furthered my interest in Louisville Athletics.  In the last six months I have been a part of record setting attendance crowds for softball, volleyball and and women's soccer.  Actually, in the last two weeks I have been a part of those record-setting crowds with volleyball and soccer.    All of these programs are ranked programs, competing with the best in the country. 

Tom Jurich has been the architect of an
athletic program that has legendary status.
There is an old saying:  build it, and they will come.  Athletic Director Tom Jurich and the team of administrators he has put together have devoted time and resources to Louisville Women’s Athletics.  New facilities, top notch coaching staffs and the assurance that Louisville supports its female student- athletes has created a new era of sports in Louisville.  It shows in the rankings, and it shows in the attendance numbers. 

Why Louisville...?
Why not?



I ‘d be remiss to not mention the big news that hit the press on Wednesday, and that is that Notre Dame is leaving the Big East.  Notre Dame announced that they will move to the ACC in all sports but football, though they will continue to play a certain amount of football games against ACC teams.  Early info out suggested this would happen in 2015 with the latest things I have read stating 2014. 



Conference realignment is always a popular topic on the men’s side of sports.  It is often driven by money and football.  As a women’s sports fan, unfortunately, we are always just along for the ride when it comes to conference affiliation. 

Notre Dame leaving the BIG EAST.
Who will Muffet hug now?
I am not typically one to fret about things that are completely and utterly out of my control.   Add to that, as a women’s sports fan, any decisions made are never going to be about the best interest of the sports I follow.    Will this news impact Louisville? Yes. No. Maybe.  Is there anything I can do about it?  Absolutely not.  

I am of the philosophy that life is not static.  Things are ever changing.  What we know and count on today can very easily change or be taken away from us tomorrow.    Life is fragile, circumstances change, and the only thing we can count on is that things will change.  Ask the Tennessee Lady Vols about that, they know more than any women’s sports program right now how quickly things can and do change.  With that philosophy, it is hard to get too riled up about this.

I do believe that Tom Jurich is one of the best Athletic Directors in the country.  As mentioned above, Jurich has made Louisville competitive across the board in regards to athletics.  I have to believe he will do all he can to place Louisville in the best possible scenario.  Of course, I do have the luxury of already being distanced from this issue as a fan of women’s athletics. 

Check in on Friday for Paul’s thoughts on this matter.
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10 comments:

  1. A beautiful tribute to your program, Jenny. We'd be proud to have such loyalty and devotion for our Panthers. One of the sad things about leaving the Big East is that I'll miss the fervor that we see in your fan base when Louisville plays here.

    Jim Graziano
    Pittsburgh, PA.

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  2. I knw was beginingto dislike pitt as much as I dislike wvs sports program.jenny any news on the visits this week?

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  3. Notre Dame is making a money move. Louisville just biding their time until someone offers.

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  4. Great write up Jenny. We as Cardinal fans are lucky to have fans like you and many others. LIC4 baby!

    Curtis Franklin

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  5. I think that the situation with the womens team was the deciding factor. Think about it. This year UL women can truly challenge ND and with the great recruits that I know we are going to get combined with those remaining from this year and the result will be a no longer ND basketball dominance over UL women.

    Combined with the position their other women's teams hold compared to UL and you have ND womens team as a whole scrambling to get out of the Big East.

    I think we call it going from the frying pan into the fire.

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  6. Would we have an easier time in the BIG 12 for women's basketball? I'm all up for playing Rutgers with no Griner.

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  7. Women's basketball had nothing to do with the decision. Unfortunately, this all about football ($$).

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  8. I know women's basketball had nothing to do with it. Just playing :-)

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