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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Column: What a year

Let’s face it, UC Davis is not known for its athletics.

When people come to the northernmost UC campus, it’s probably not because of its flashy sports teams and championship pedigree. Hell, a column written by a Berkeley student prior to the Aggies’ football game against the Golden Bears bashed the UC Davis football team.

“I’ll lay down good money that some of you weren’t even aware that UC Davis had a football team. (No more than $5. I don’t get paid to work here),” said Jack Wang, a Cal sports columnist.

Despite Mr. Wang’s wild misinformation, he does bring up a seemingly logical point – UC Davis is not known for its sports.

I have a feeling this past athletic year will change all of that.

The 2010-11 year was by far the most successful and newsworthy the Aggies have had since joining Division I. Here’s a rundown of all the awesomeness and not-so-awesomeness from the past 10 months. (Disclaimer: I only have so much space here, so I can’t discuss all the greatness that was this year).

Conference team titles: Men’s cross country, women’s basketball, women’s swimming and diving, women’s gymnastics, women’s golf and men’s golf all won their respective team league titles this year. That’s six championships – four of which came in the Big West Conference. UC Davis entered the year with only nine Big West team titles.

Individual accomplishments: Again, let me hit the highlights. Individual titles were won in men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and field, women’s swimming and diving and women’s gymnastics.

Team accomplishments: The women’s tennis team had its best season since joining Division I. The field hockey team won its first conference match up. The football squad clinched its 39th winning season in its past 41 years in a thrilling manner. The men’s water polo squad quietly continued to be one of the most successful teams since the Division I jump. Women’s lacrosse finished the year as one of the highest scoring teams in the nation. The baseball team continued to improve and showed promise for next year.

Along with all the many team and individual accomplishments, this year was probably the most newsworthy since 2007.

Women’s basketball coach Sandy Simpson announced his retirement before the season started – then led his team to a conference title and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The football team wasn’t immune to the conference shuffling that took place in the fall, jumping to the Big Sky Conference – the best Division I-AA league west of the Mississippi.

Then there was the not-so-awesome men’s basketball team. The prologue of the 2010-11 sports year was the letter to Athletic Director Greg Warzecka at the end of last season asking for the removal of coach Gary Stewart. Warzecka didn’t listen, and the men’s basketball team had its worst season since joining Division I. Stewart was eventually let go and replaced by former National Basketball Association player Jim Les.

And the cherry on top of an incredible season was Greg Warzecka stepping down. Both The California Aggie Editorial Board and myself have written on the issue.

Despite the shadow cast by the men’s basketball team, this was a great year for UC Davis sports.

Speaking for my staff and myself, we are all incredibly grateful to do what we do and to make the contribu(a)tions we make.

Sure, The Aggie sports desk is more likely to get a call from KDVS than ESPN when it comes to the sports we cover. We don’t get to talk to high profile coaches and our stories won’t be wired to The Sacramento Bee or San Francisco Chronicle. But we don’t do it for the money or fame. We do it because we like it, and that’s all that matters.

JASON ALPERT knows next year’s sports editor Trevor Cramer will do a tremendous job. Good luck Cramer. To talk UC Davis sports, e-mail him at sports@theaggie.org.

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