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Posts Tagged ‘Pat Summit’

Sunday night in Indianapolis the NCAA announced Nkolika “Nicky” Anosike 2008 Woman of the Year.  Anosike led the Lady Vols of Tennessee to back-to-back Women’s Basketball National Championships.  Being an avid watcher of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and regular season play, I could not be happier with the NCAA’s decision!  Not only is Anosike a household name, at least in my house, but a woman with tremendous talent, who carries herself with such pride and confidence!

Anosike’s success spans across much more than the basketball court.  Anosike has many noteworthy achievements.  Her academic and athletic success combined is incomparable to most, and I do not think anyone will disagree on how deserving she is of this award.

Academic achievements: Graduated in May 2008 with a triple major in political science, legal studies and sociology. SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2005-08. ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American second-team, 2007-08. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship winner for Tennessee, 2008.

The recipe for determining the winner: “The annual Woman of the Year award recognizes outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics, leadership and service. A committee composed of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences selected the top 30 – 10 from each division – from 130 conference and independent nominees. From the 30 honorees, nine finalists – three from each division – were chosen.”

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics selected Anosike from nine finalists:

“1.  Susan Ackermann, Salisbury (lacrosse), Capital Athletic Conference
2.  Nkolika Anosike, Tennessee (basketball),Southeastern Conference
3.  Jennifer Artichuk, Delta State (swimming and diving), Independent
4.  Shanti Freitas, Smith (swimming and diving), New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference
5.  Arianna Lambie, Stanford (cross country, track and field), Pacific-10 Conference
6.  Samantha Mitchell, Mount Olive (volleyball, track and field), Conference Carolinas
7.  Lindsey Ozimek, Charlotte (soccer), Atlantic 10 Conference
8.  Sarah Schettle, Wisconsin-Oshkosh (track and field, cross country, swimming), Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
9.  Heather Walker, Georgian Court (volleyball, softball), Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference”

I think that this is an amazing award and a great way to showcase female athletes.  Only ONE winner of this award has been a Division III Athlete.  EVERY other winner competed at the Division I level.  Now, I understand Division I is the highest level of competition, thus you are going to find the most successful and talented women competing for Divisioin I.  HOWEVER, having been a: 4 year varsity athlete, 2 time NCAA All-American, team captain, 4 time All-Conference, and a 4 time NCAA qualifier, in Division III swimming, something is to be said for the Division III student-athlete.  Where is the recognition for non-scholarship athletes?  The athletes that compete simply for the love of the game.

The athlete that gets out of bed every morning at 5:30am for swim practice, goes to class all morning, comes back to the pool to swim again, and then hits the weightroom, just to go home, eat dinner, do some homework, and wake up to do it all again.  All the meanwhile, maintaining a 3.95, still finding time to volunteer for various activities and programs, not to mention being a darn talented swimmer!!  This swimmer I am referring to was one of the 30 finalists in attendance Sunday night, Michelle Coombs.  Coombs, a 2008 graduate of SUNY New Paltz, was the 2007 NCAA Division III National Champion for Women’s Swimming in the 100 freestyle, and the first female National Champion at SUNY New Paltz.  As an assistant coach at SUNY New Paltz, I had the pleasure of coaching Coombs for the 2007-2008 swim season!  Much like all of the candidates for Woman of the Year, Coombs excels in academics, athletics, and in the area of service and leadership.  Congratulations to Coombs and all of the other finalists on their amazing honor to be nominated.  Most importantly, congratulations to Anosike for winning the title of Woman of the Year, and best of luck as you all go forward in your lives and look to excel outside of your specific sports arenas.

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It seems that the rivalry between the University of Connecticut and the University of Tennessee, established through tough competition in women’s basketball play, is extending to football – the two football clubs have agreed to play each other in 2015-2016.

I don’t think too many people would disagree with the fact that Pat Summit’s Tennessee program and Geno Auriemma’s UConn program have drawn both incredible talent and great media coverage for the sport (and women’s sports in general).

But I thought it was really interesting ESPN actually went out on a limb and reported on it, saying that the football teams “don’t have quite the same pedigree.” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that!

Apparently, the USA’s women’s basketball powerhouses are actually being given some credit in their ability to draw attention, even in the “big dog” world of college football. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it happen.

Here’s what ESPN had to say:

Connecticut and Tennessee’s rivalry is moving from the basketball court to the football field.

Connecticut announced Thursday that Tennessee will visit Rentschler Field in East Hartford in 2015, and the Huskies will travel to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville the following year.

The two women’s basketball powers had met annually, until Tennessee canceled the series a year ago. The schools’ football teams don’t have quite the same pedigree.

Tennessee won the 1998 national championship in football and has 13 Southeastern Conference titles to its credit. UConn is beginning its sixth season in the Bowl Championship subdivision and is coming off a 9-4 season and its first Big East co-championship.

Needless to say, I’m going to watch this game, and see if the commentators happen to say anything about how the women’s basketball programs have built a rivalry that has extended beyond their sport and gender. My guess is it will be mentioned, briefly.

If only they’d announce women’s sports schedules that far in advance on ESPN….

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