Thursday, July 1, 2010


When people think of total, all-around excellence in athletics, certain schools come to mind. Stanford, of course, they win the Director's Cup every year. Texas. Michigan. UCLA. Might grind some gears to hear it said, but, North Carolina.

This year, with a third-place finish in the standings, the elite now includes Virginia.

One thing that really stuck out to me during the whole college application process was the notion that colleges aren't necessarily looking for a well-rounded student, they're looking for a well-rounded student body. It was one of those things that sort of hits you and makes perfect sense, and it really breaks the mold of what you're thinking as a high school junior. You know, the 4.0 student, class president, athlete, volunteer-everywhere type will have his or her pick of schools, right? The point was really driven home when that exact person in our high school class didn't get accepted at UVA. If you do something, and do it really, really well, and aren't a total fuck-up in the rest of your life, you probably stand a better chance at getting in where you really want to go.

Schools want that person because a world-class university excels at everything it does. Pointy-headed academics don't always want to believe it, but it's the well-rounded university - full of people that excel at what they do - that is really worth its salt, and that includes athletics. Where would Oxford and Cambridge be without their boat race?

So it's really a point of special pride that UVA has earned itself that third-place finish. It's not just what that Onion t-shirt says, about the team from my geographical area being superior to the team from yours. It's an affirmation, really: that UVA has made a concerted effort to be a world-class university, and that effort paying off, is really gratifying. It dovetails nicely with the alumni magazine article on President Casteen, who retires officially in a month. Casteen has his detractors, almost all of them football fans, but what the University has accomplished under his leadership is really astounding, and the sum of it all is this: since the University's founding, some 191 years ago, there may never have been a better time than right now to take pride in being an alum, and that is really saying something.

Certainly there's never been a better time to be a fan, unless you're just in it for the football. (In that case you've seen better days.) But the department as a whole just wrapped up its best year ever. Ever. Third in the standings puts us behind Stanford, who wins it every year, and a few woulda-coulda-shouldas behind Florida, and well over 100 points ahead of UCLA. Where are the points coming from?


Women's cross country: 45
Men's cross country: 45
Field hockey: 83
Women's soccer: 64
Men's soccer: 100


Women's basketball: 25
Women's swimming & diving: 69
Men's swimming & diving: 67.5
Men's indoor track & field: 52
Wrestling: 60


Baseball: 64
Women's golf: 63
Men's golf: 65.25
Women's lacrosse: 60
Men's lacrosse: 83
Rowing: 100
Softball: 25
Women's tennis: 50
Men's tennis 83
Men's outdoor track & field: 49.5

We're 57 points behind Florida; I'm sure you don't need much of an imagination to find ways we could have made those points up, but it matters not. You can count 10 men's sports and 10 women's sports in this competition; we have exactly that many scoring points for us, and none that we had to leave out. 10 teams in the top 10 nationwide, and 2 team national championships. And the gap between us and Stanford narrows a little bit - not a huge amount, but noticeable all the same - if you only count the sports we both participate in.

So there's much to be proud of here. And we're not done handing out awards: you'll notice the poll for Cavalier of the Year is still open, and will be through Monday evening. If you haven't done so already, vote for one of the athletes that helped make UVA athletics what it is today!

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