There are a lot of significant aspects of Virginia culture, and sports are an important part. When people across the country think of the University of Virginia, they don’t just think of the outstanding academics or Thomas Jefferson. More and more people are quick to recognize Virginia for its widespread success in sports. This past season, Virginia won national titles in men’s tennis, men’s soccer and baseball (as well as Ryan Shane’s men’s tennis singles national title), a women’s soccer College Cup appearance and, for much of the year, a top-5 men’s basketball team). The Cavaliers won the Capital One Cup in men’s sports — an award given out at the EPSYs for the most successful and dominant college sports programs.
Congrats, new students. You have not only become a member of one of the most elite educational institutions in the world, but also of the 2014 Naismith Student Section of the Year, ‘Hoo Crew. You are about to soak up four amazing years of some of college’s best athletics. Prepare yourselves.
Here is my guide to navigating the wild, beautiful experience of Virginia athletics:
1. Go to the first football game and sing the “Good Ol’ Song” (even if just for a field goal): I don’t care how much or little football means to you — go watch the Virginia vs. Notre Dame game on Sept. 12. The fun atmosphere of the student section — more fondly referred to as “the Hill” — will be packed with ‘Hoos showing off their Lilly dresses and bowties (and Virginia tee shirts, wear whatever you want), people getting Instagram photos as far as the eyes can see and a sense of community unlike any other.
You will get your first glimpse of Cavman and Sabre riding across the field. You will laugh as the Adventures of Cavman plays on ‘Hoo Vision. You will listen to the fantastic marching band (P.S. look out for them in the Macy’s Day Parade this Thanksgiving). You will cheer and boo along with your peers, and you will put your arms around them as everyone participates in a beloved UVa tradition, the Good Ol’ Song. If you don’t know the words yet, don’t worry — you will catch on. Bottom line, you will see some good football — the word is still out, however, if Virginia will be providing any of it.
2. Check out the outstanding Olympic sports: Many of Virginia’s Olympic sports teams are nationally ranked. There are the No. 2 men and women’s soccer teams and the No. 9 field hockey girls who are currently in season. Some other sports in season this fall are volleyball, cross-country, wrestling and golf. In addition to seeing some awesome sports action, ‘Hoo Crew provides even further incentive to attend: pizza and free tee shirts.
3. Follow Phony Bennett on Twitter: @IfTonyTweeted is a staple to any Virginia Twitter experience. He is both funny and insightful and not just about basketball. Phony is very invested in all Virginia sports matters, whether live tweeting the College World Series run or joking back and forth with one of the funniest humans to ever go through the ranks of Virginia football, Luke Bowanko — also give him a follow. One of my goals was to receive a follow from Phony before I graduated, and this summer, he made all my dreams come true (#humblebrag).
4. Experience the glory of Virginia basketball: There is a reason the ‘Hoo Crew won best basketball student section — the energy is unbelievable. Not only do you get to see incredible basketball, but you also get to help cheer on the team with giant cardboard cutouts of the players’ heads, throw streamers and try to distract every opposing team’s players at the free throw line. You get to help make the experience what it is. And it isn’t just Uncle Malc (as senior guard Malcolm Brogdon is referred to) or the boys that play in the hallowed hall of JPJ — be sure to check out Joanne Boyle’s talented squad at one of the women’s basketball games.
5. Get ready for the spring: As exciting as all the sports are in the fall semester, basketball carries us right over into the fun of spring sports. The national champion men’s tennis and baseball teams are always exciting to watch. Be sure to check out the talented women’s tennis team, head over to Klöckner stadium for men and women’s lacrosse action and keep up with the softball, track and field, golf and rowing teams.
You have an ID card that gives you access to some of the best college athletics in the nation. Use it wisely.