THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
( Jeff McAdams with the Thursday report. University of Louisville Athletics have been on an incredible run over the last year or so. Jeff looks at the women's sports successes in it. Like a lot of us, he is filled with pride about the programs. They have not disappointed...)
Not The End, A Beginning
A simple theme, but one I think is appropriate for the University of Louisville Athletic Department.
As I thought about the nearing end of athletic competition for the 2012-2013 academic year, I think its natural to look back and reflect on the where things have come from, where they stand, and where they are poised to go in the future.
Plenty of people have written about the incredible recent past that UofL Athletics has had. Mostly they've focused on the Sugar Bowl Win, a Basketball National Championship, a newly expanded football stadium, a shiny new arena downtown, a move to the ACC...and with good reason. Those are all fantastic achievements and improvements for the UofL Athletic Department, and I would be the last to downplay their importance to this community. But plenty of people have talked about the importance of all of those things, and to be sure, the discussions haven't exclusively been about the men's teams, but understandably, the men do get the lion's share of the attention.
Let's think about the women's programs, though. The new arena downtown has benefited the women's basketball team as much as it has the men. It has also been a boon to volleyball, getting a share of the limelight. The commentators have talked for three years about how Louisville Basketball is playing in the premier facility in the country...the men's commentators, that is...how much more does that hold true for women's basketball? And volleyball? Is it even a contest?
What does the future hold for women's basketball? Grab your sunglasses, because the future is bright. These young women are clearly very motivated to have another great season. Graduating Mo Reid and Shelby Harper..as wonderful as those two women are both on and off the court, and as great as they have been for this program...I think its safe to say that the program will move onwards and upwards.
Volleyball has a lot of offense to replace as a result of graduating four good players in Tanya Lukyanenko, Kaitlynn James, Gwen Rucker, and Lola Arslanbeckova, but we've got some great players returning, and a fantastic freshman class coming (and partially here already). With a dynamite coach that's really just starting to really put her imprint on this program through recruiting and cultural change...watch out, this team is gonna be one to keep an eye on in the next couple of years.
In a little over a year, the soccer teams, both men's and women's, will be getting their own shiny new facility to wow their recruits with. Great futures here, too.
Lacrosse. We've talked a lot about lacrosse this year. Let's face it, a sport that's relatively obscure in the Louisville area and we had a team that twice made appearances in the national rankings. They're only graduating 3 seniors, too. I hope our readers have taken the opportunity to learn a little bit about the sport this year, because I suspect you'll see more attention focused their way in the future. The future is now, though, as it was just announced that four Cardinal Lacrosse players were named to the All Big-East teams. Nikki Boltja...a name you've probably heard a fair bit if you've been reading the Cardinal Couple this spring...made the first team. Katie Oliverio, Monica Negron, and Kaylin Morissette were named to the second team. Only Katie O is graduating among that quartet...and Kay Morissette is just a freshmen. The future is bright indeed.
Let's not forget about Field Hockey, who also is bringing in a great freshman class and is also making national rankings at times. Now that I've learned a bit about lacrosse, I guess I'll need to crash study field hockey next. A bit of a tough one for me as their game times seem to frequently conflict with volleyball. I promise Coach Sowry, I'll do a better job of following your team's progress in the fall.
I feel like I've been walking around on a cloud this academic year. I personally have followed Volleyball, Women's Basketball, and Softball the closest, and with the success that those three programs have had, I feel like I've just had a smile on my face that can't be wiped away any time I think about UofL Athletics. Then I look around and see success in the teams that I've not been following that closely, and, OK, the Sugar Bowl and Men's Basketball National Championship certainly contributes to that feeling.
I will give the Football program one other kudo. That was the starting point for the theme of getting on board the train because its leaving the station headed for greatness.
I can't wait.