Florida Gators Have Plenty to be Thankful For


Mandatory Credit: ©Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As a Gators fan, you may think the sky is falling, but it very much is not. Just because the football team is struggling this year with a 4-7 record doesn’t mean the entire sports scene at Florida is crumbling as well. The men’s basketball team has one of the best teams in college basketball and arguably the Gators’ deepest ever. The volleyball team will again contend for a national title. Men’s and Women’s swimming and diving has already qualified nine combined swimmers for the NCAA Championships and have qualified for 22 events. Men’s and Women’s cross country just finished a solid season with the men’s team finishing 29th at the NCAA Championships and Agata Strausa of the women’s team picking up All-America honors. Women’s basketball is out to a 4-2 start, with their losses coming from ACC schools Virginia Tech and Florida State. So maybe women’s basketball isn’t really great, but the rest of the sports are pretty good. And this is just the fall season.

Florida will have plenty more to cheer about come January. The men’s basketball team will kick off SEC play and should do very well. Men’s and Women’s swimming and diving continues their aspirations for a deep NCAA Championships run. Men’s track and field just won back-to-back national championships and will be looking to do so again this year. Speaking of national championships, Rhonda Faehn’s squad will be looking to repeat this year after winning Florida’s first ever NCAA championship. Tim Walton’s softball team should contend for the College World Series once again this year with another great group of players. Women’s tennis and track and field have a ton of talent on their rosters and should once again compete in the NCAA Championships. Lacrosse has consistently put together top 3 recruiting classes and should compete once again after earning the number one seed in last years tournament. Kevin O’Sullivan should be back on track this year after hauling in the number one rated recruiting class. Men and women’s golf has a lot of talented and will play well this year. And women’s basketball has Ronni Williams, who’s pretty exciting to watch.

By my count, it seems to me that all Florida Gators athletics have a chance to compete in the NCAA Championships. That’s something that no other school can claim. Yes, football is down and football is what we Gator fans pride ourselves on, but take a minute to watch some other sports this academic school year. For those who think athletic director Jeremy Foley should be fired for Will Muschamp and the struggles of the football program, look at all those great hires he’s had over the years. He’s been involved in the hiring process Mary Wise who’s only constructed the winningest college volleyball program since she took over in 1991, Steve Spurrier who brought unprecedented consistent success to Florida’s football program during his 11-year tenure, including UF’s first football national championship, and Lon Kruger who brought the Gators to their first ever Final Four in 1994. He’s also directly hired men’s basketball coach, Florida’s all-time leader in wins and back-to-back national championship winning coach Billy Donovan and two-time BCS Championship winning coach Urban Meyer. Defending back-to-back NCAA Championship winning track and field coach Mike Holloway and Rhonda Faehn, coach of the 2013 national champion gymnastics team, both were hired by Foley. The first and only coach in Gators’ soccer history and the leader of the improbable 1998 national champions Becky Burleigh, and Gregg Troy, coached the United States swimming and diving team in the 2012 Summer Olympics and also coached the 2010 women’s national championship team at Florida. The list goes on and on. Not only does he head one of the few athletic programs in the nation that sustains itself, but it also regularly contributes seven-figures to UF’s general fund. I think he’s earned his stay.

So as many of you sit down to dinner tonight with you friends and family, take that time to enjoy all you have to be thankful for. Your health, family, and friends, and being able to get together with those you hold dearest for a couple of days a year. And if somehow the conversation switches to how terrible the football team is and how Will Muschamp and Jeremy Foley should be fired, you can just say, “It’s still great to be a Florida Gator,” and list the reasons why. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving from Hail Florida Hail and remember, in all kinds of weather, we’ll all stick together.

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