Success brings new pressure to FGCU athletic program
We are now the hunted.
During Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball season opener against Nebraska, Tom Hamilton, radio play-by-play voice of the Cleveland Indians, and analyst Jim Jackson were talking about FGCU’s historic run to the Sweet Sixteen. Something that caught my ear is when they said FGCU can’t surprise anybody anymore.
In my three years at this university, I’ve been spoiled with great fall sports seasons. Gone are the days of puny FGCU, we are now a conference power and there’s a huge target on our back.
Women and men’s soccer won consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference titles and volleyball contended for conference crowns on a yearly basis.
This year, things have changed. Women’s soccer was an impressive 13-3-4 and a No.1 seed entering the A-Sun tournament, but lost on penalty kicks in the championship game to Jacksonville University.
Men’s soccer was shocked in the A-Sun semifinal against the University of North Florida, 2-1, this past weekend. They also were the No.1 seed in the men’s side of the tournament
Volleyball has limped its way to a 13-18 record this year due to a strong non-conference schedule and injury to junior outside hitter Jill Hopper. Luckily, they have a chance to make a statement this weekend in the A-Sun tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament.
I don’t know if it’s because of our multiple trips to the NCAA tournament in multiple sports, but the A-Sun is stepping up.
On Nov. 9, the USC Upstate men’s basketball team beat Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia Tech 64-63, and last Saturday, Mercer beat the Big East Conference’s Seton Hall 77-74 in double overtime. I think it’s a mentality that has grown throughout the A-Sun since we shocked the world. Other teams are beginning to think why not us?
We have to step up to keep pace with the rest of the conference. We have the winter and spring seasons to collect some more conference titles. I have no reason to believe we won’t take home some conference crowns, but it’s no longer going to be easy.
Every opposing locker room is now looking to take the slipper off Cinderella’s foot.