Listening to AM Sports talk radio this morning almost got my blood boiling. One guy after another was calling the guy announcers to dismiss the incredible achievement yesterday by the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team.
By trouncing the University of Florida Seminoles 93 to 62, the U Conn Huskies surpassed UCLA's record for consecutive victories on the basketball court. Their 89th victory in a row surpasses the 1971 to 1974 UCLA men's basketball record of 88.
The callers and announcers came up with one bullshit reason after another to downplay this record. I'm not going to go into them.
Maya Moore, the Huskies' star, scored a personal record 41 points last night. Watching her on the news clips reminded me of one of her predecessors at U Conn, Jessica Moore. Maya is from Georgia. Jessica grew up in Palmer, where she became the Alaska athlete of the year in 1998 and 1999. She went on to play on three championship teams at U Conn, finishing her last game with a torn ACL, and scoring 14 points.
I remember speaking with Jessica several times, while she was in high school, and a couple times when she came back to the Valley for the holidays during college. What I remember best about Jessica was seeing her inspire many girls and young women, and serving as a very positive example at Colony and in the local community. I took my kids to CHS women's basketball games so they could see this remarkable athlete and her excellent team mates. The kids probably got more out of watching Jessica Moore on the track, as our daughter went on to run on CHS's track and cross country teams, where Julia developed the physique and endurance that made our daughter, like Moore before her, a National NCAA champion.
From my experience as a parent, coach and volunteer in local boy's and girl's sports, I can say that athletics is a lot harder for young women than for young men. The girls just don't get the same kind or levels of community support as do the boys. Most often, the girls' basketball games are mere warmups or preludes to the boy's prime time contests.
When women excel to the degree this U Conn team has, it is seldom celebrated to the extent that comparable triumphs by men's teams seem to be. There have been some notable exceptions, though. The American Women's victory in the 1999 World Cup was widely celebrated. This achievement yesterday should be too.
Congratulations to the Husky women.
I hope you inspire thousands of girls and young women to work hard and excel.
image - former Alaska Athlete of the Year, Jessica Moore, playing at U Conn in 2004