University of Virginia fans can look back at the 2007–08 season with a sense of satisfaction. The statistics compiled over the year tell the story of a first-rate group of athletes who brought a national level of play to the University.
In twenty-one of the University's twenty-five sports, teams or individuals advanced to postseason competition, participating in nineteen NCAA championship events. The men's lacrosse and men's tennis teams reached the semifinals in NCAA championships, while the women's rowing team finished fifth. The men's tennis team won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) National Team Indoor Championship.
The Cavaliers also did well in conference play. U.Va. teams won ACC championships in men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, men's tennis, men's cross country, women's lacrosse, and women's rowing, the most of any league member. Over the last six years, the University has won twenty-nine ACC championships, more than any other school. U.Va. has established itself as the school to beat in a number of sports. The women's rowing team has won nine consecutive conference championships, and the men's swimming and diving team has won nine conference championships in the last ten years.
Altogether, U.Va.'s intercollegiate athletics teams won more than 61 percent of their contests in 2007–08, compiling an overall record of 262-160-8 for a .619 winning percentage. This achievement was summed up by a seventeenth-place finish in the Division I United States Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings, which are based on the combined performance of men's and women's sports during the academic year. The University is one of just fifteen schools to finish in the top thirty in all fifteen years of the existence of the Directors' Cup.
A Great Ending to a Memorable Career
Statistics tell only a part of the story. The sustained high-quality play that Virginia demonstrated reflects the talent, determination, and character of its athletes. A number of students who graduated this year epitomized these qualities over the course of their collegiate careers.
Sean Singletary, three-time cocaptain of the men's basketball team, brought versatility and excitement to his position as guard. He is the only player in ACC history to compile 2,000 career points, 500 career assists, 400 career rebounds, and 200 career steals. The University retired his jersey in ceremonies before his last regular-season home game.
Defensive end Chris Long compiled a similar record in football. This year, he became the third unanimous first-team All-American in U.Va.'s football history, received the Ted Hendricks Award as the best defensive end in the nation, and was named the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year. He tied for third nationally in quarterback sacks and was fourteenth in tackles for loss. His jersey also was retired at the end of the season. Mr. Long was the second player drafted in the first round of the National Football League draft.
Somdev Devvarman also compiled an outstanding record during his four years at the University. He became just the third player to repeat as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Men's Player of the Year. Mr. Devvarman also won the NCAA singles championship for the second consecutive season as well as the ITA National Indoor Singles Championship. He finished the season with an overall singles record of 44-1, tying the school record he set last year, and was ranked number one in the nation every week of the season.
Leading from the Sidelines
There is no one more influential in the personal and athletic development of these students than U.Va. coaches, who serve as teachers, mentors, and exemplars. They bring to their position a deep-seated understanding of their sports, the ability to communicate, to empathize, and to inspire, as well as a determination to win. One measure of their success is the honors they receive. Seven Virginia coaches won a total of eight ACC Coach of the Year awards, including Mark Bernardino in men's and women's swimming and diving, Brian Boland in men's tennis, Jason Dunn in men's cross-country, Al Groh in football, Kim Lewellen in women's golf, Julie Myers in women's lacrosse, and Kevin Sauer in rowing. Brian Boland was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's National Coach of the Year.
The valuable contributions of two coaches have been sustained over such an extended period of time that they were elected to their sports' halls of fame. Women's head basketball coach Debbie Ryan was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June of 2008. As head coach of Virginia, Ms. Ryan has taken her team to twenty-two NCAA Tournament appearances and three consecutive Final Four berths (1990–92). She is among seven coaches in NCAA women's basketball history to reach the 600-win milestone at the same school. In addition, Ms. Ryan led the 2001 USA Basketball team to the gold medal in the World University Games and the 2003 team to a silver medal at the Pan American Games.
Dom Starsia, head coach of men's lacrosse, will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in November 2008. Since coming to U.Va. in 1993, Mr. Starsia has led the Cavaliers to three national championships (1999, 2003, and 2006). At Virginia he has a record of 184-62 and has taken the Cavaliers to ten NCAA semifinal appearances.
Although these coaches appreciate the accolades that are bestowed on them, their goal is not simply to compile a winning record but to help their student-athletes become well-rounded individuals. Steve Swanson, head coach of the women's soccer team, can point with pride to the success of Becky Sauerbrunn. Ms. Sauerbrunn was not only named to the 2007 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division 1 All-America Team, she was also awarded the organization's Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. Even while competing for the U.S. Women's National Team, the English major compiled a 3.43 GPA, often finishing assignments in a post-practice ice bath or on 3 a.m. trips back from away games.