Contrary to popular belief, a UCSB men’s soccer team did, in fact, win a national championship last winter.
Before accusing me of hitting ye old crack pipe one too many times, hear me out on this one.
No, this isn’t the penalty kick debate. As absurd as it is to decide a national championship on penalty kicks, the point is moot, Indiana won fair and square. They can take their sorry Hoosier asses back to the Midwest and let us have our goal post thieving memories.
I’m not talking about the NCAA Division I title that eluded UCSB for the past quarter-century. I’m talking about the unsung athletes. The athletes that pay to play, they don’t play to have their educations paid for. They receive little glory and rarely have the benefit of more than a few die-hards and family members to aid them in their efforts.
I’m talkin’ about club sports.
National championships aren’t elusive for club teams around these parts – they damn near grow on trees. The men’s club soccer team captured the national championship in November, and they probably won’t be the only club team here in Santa Barbara to assert a similar claim.
Those who assume that club athletes are merely more competitive intramural athletes are completely off base. The men’s club soccer team regularly provided tough competition in scrimmaging the NCAA team that spent most of its season as the top-ranked team in the nation.
Additionally, in soccer at least, the club team serves as a virtual minor league system for the NCAA squad. Senior forward Drew McAthy, UCSB’s most prolific scorer in school history, who will forever live in Gaucho folklore, started his tenure as a freshman on the club team.
Only a matter of months before the men’s club soccer team was crowned tops in the nation, the men’s lacrosse club team accomplished the same feat in an 8-7 triumph over Colorado State in the USLIA National Championship game in St. Louis, Mo. This year looks no different. The Gauchos boast a #3 national ranking and a robust 17-2 overall record. Don’t be surprised if they bring home the hardware again.
The dudes aren’t the only ones that are leaving their LAX opponents in the dust, either. The women’s lacrosse club team, which has never won a national championship, seems destined to make another deep title run. Fresh with the bitter taste of a runner-up [[ok]] finish in last year’s national title fresh in their mouths, this year they will likely receive the #1 seed. It’s their tournament to lose.
Did I mention that the men’s rugby team reached its first-ever Elite Eight performance just a few weeks ago?
So for those of you who continually voice your apathetic distaste for UCSB athletics due to lack of success, perhaps you should look a little bit deeper.
You might be surprised.
Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Sean Swaby is a proud member of the UCSB club figure skating team. He can do a quadruple axel. Whoa.