Pay equal attention to FGCU women’s sports
By Kelli Krebs Photo editor Behind every great dunk by a man, there’s a woman making a 3-pointer.
Last week, the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team set a new attendance record of 4,633 against Ave Maria, a Division-II NAIA program.
A few weeks prior, the same team rallied 4,525 fans for their home opener against Hartford at 7 a.m. That very same day, only 12 hours later (and not at a time when most college students are still asleep), the women’s basketball team held its own home opener, but with not nearly the same turnout as the men’s game earlier that day. Student attendance at the Bethune- Cookman home opener was disappointing, to say the least. Fewer than 2,000 people showed up to cheer on the Lady Eagles that night — maybe 200 being younger than 50.
Even Sunday afternoon’s men’s game against Iona had almost double the attendance of the women’s home opener, and it was during Thanksgiving break. Sunday’s game was the lowest of the season at 3,779, according to FGCU Athletics.
Now for the record, I am a huge fan of the “Dunk City” movement, the entire men’s basketball program and men’s college basketball in general. The FGCU men’s basketball team accomplished something amazing not only for the program, but for the university as a whole.
With that said, the women’s team is not Dunk City, but they established themselves as a powerful program with incredible potential long before March. The women’s team deserves more respect than what they’re given because, historically and respectively to their sport, they’re an equally as good — if not better — team. For example, in the home opener of the 2008-09 season, the women’s team defeated Florida (yes, as in the University of Florida) 88-86. In their first year as a Division I program, the women’s team earned the No. 10 spot on the Mid-Major Top 25 poll and led the nation in 3-pointers per game with 10.9.
The Eagles are four-time Atlantic Sun C o n f e r e n c e regular-season c h a m p i o n s (2009 and 2011- 13). In the past nine years, the program has had 21 or more wins in a season and they were also ranked in the top 40 in the country in 13 different s t a t i s t i c a l categories in the final NCAA rankings of the 2012-13 season. They also made it to the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Last January, the Lady Eagles set the NCAA Division I record for 3-pointers in a single game (22 if you were wondering) and currently lead the nation in 3 – p o i n t e r s per game. Last season, the women finished with a 27-7 overall record and fell to Stetson in a close A-Sun Championship game, 70-64. L a s t season, the men finished their season with a 26-11 record and won the A-Sun Championship against Mercer, 88-75.
Both the men’s and women’s teams currently hold a 4-3 record after the women’s Hardwood Tournament in Mexico and the men’s home game Sunday afternoon.
So where’s the love for the women’s team? Or how about women’s sports in general? What about soccer, a sport in which the FGCU women finished their season 13-3-4, falling in the A-Sun final in penalty kicks, while the men had an 8-7-2 season and lost in the semifinals? How about baseball and softball? The FGCU softball team was the first team on campus to get a bid to an NCAA tournament and made it further in the A-Sun tournament last season than the baseball team did.
The men’s basketball team did something incredible for this school. More students have school pride and are showing up to more athletic events.
But when you head out to a game to cheer on your FGCU Eagles, remember the women’s teams. The women’s basketball team takes on South Florida tonight at 7 p.m.
I hope to see just as large of a student section as the men’s game on Sunday.