Success in sports, through self-discipline, courage, integrity, and a commitment to the greater good, exemplifies the ideals of leadership and citizenship that the University hopes to inspire in its students. U.Va.'s student-athletes develop these qualities during practice and display them in competition. In the process, they become highly visible role models who are respected for their achievements.
The University's athletics program recorded its highest finish in the seventeen-year history of the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup, coming in third in the annual all-sports competition. Top-tier placement in the Directors' Cup requires national-level performance in several sports, and Virginia teams delivered. In fall 2009, the men's soccer team won the NCAA championship for the sixth time in the program's history. Men's soccer was unbeaten in its last sixteen games of the season, including a 3-2 penalty kick shootout win over a determined and talented University of Akron team in the championship final.
The women's rowing team won the 2010 NCAA championship for the first time, led by an undefeated varsity four. The varsity four was the seventh crew in school history to take home a national championship in its event and the first since 2007. Three rowers—Desiree Burns, Jennifer Cromwell, and Katrin Reinert—were named first-team all-Americans by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association.
Like the rowing team, the men's tennis team has consistently performed at a high level at national events. This season, it won its third consecutive Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men's National Team Indoor Championship. The second-seeded Cavaliers used strong singles play to overcome an early deficit and defeat the fifth-seeded Volunteers from the University of Tennessee.
Virginia came close to winning additional national championships as the field hockey team, men's lacrosse team, and men's tennis team reached the NCAA championship semifinals. In the process of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and winning its opening games in the tournament, the field hockey team won twenty games, the most in program history. The baseball team was similarly successful, reaching the Super Regionals, while the softball team received its first-ever NCAA bid.
Five different Virginia teams (baseball, men's lacrosse, women's rowing, men's soccer, and men's tennis) were ranked number one during the 2009–10 athletics year.
Move from national to league competition, and the depth of the University's athletics program is even more evident. Virginia won seven Atlantic Coast Conference team championships, more than any other school in the league. Men's teams won championships in soccer, swimming and diving, wrestling, tennis, and lacrosse, while women's teams took championships in swimming and diving and in rowing.
Outstanding Individual Efforts
The success of these teams rests squarely on the talent and drive of individual student-athletes. Their determination to make that extra effort, game after game, is epitomized by Monica Wright, a guard on the women's basketball team, who completed her U.Va. career in 2009–10. Ms. Wright averaged 23.7 points a game in her last season and finished her career as the women's basketball team's all-time leading scorer with 2,540 points, ranking third in ACC history. She was a first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). She was also named the 2010 ACC Player of the Year, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year.
This same consistency has made Chris Henrich the first two-time All-American wrestler in U.Va. history. He finished the year with a 35-3 record, including a third-place performance at the NCAA Championships. He needs just sixteen wins next season to become the wrestling program's all-time wins leader.
Men's tennis players Michael Shabaz and Drew Courtney represent a consistently excellent program. They won the NCAA men's tennis doubles title, marking the fourth consecutive year U.Va. has won a singles or doubles title at the NCAA Championships. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association named Mr. Shabaz, Mr. Courtney, and Sanam Singh 2010 All-Americans.
Privately funded renovations to Davenport Field have created better opportunities for player development, enhanced the recruiting experience for prospective players, and have better positioned the baseball program to host NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals. Improvements included a weight room, film room, meeting room, a renovated clubhouse, and indoor batting facility, named the Ryan Zimmerman Indoor Hitting Area for former U.Va. star Ryan Zimmerman (College '06). Locker rooms for the visiting team and umpires were also added.
A number of athletes from other squads also had successful seasons. First-year student Robby Andrews won the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship in the 800 meters with a time of 1:48.39. At the Penn Relays during the outdoor season, he used his kick to pass Oregon Olympian Andrew Wheating down the homestretch, as he anchored the Cavaliers' 4x800-meter relay team of Alex Bowman, Lance Roller, and Steve Finley to Virginia's first Championship of America relay title since 1943.
As a result of performances like these, Mr. Andrews was named the ACC Men's Outdoor Track Performer of the Year and Freshman of the Year in both indoor and outdoor track. Other Cavaliers received similar accolades. Mei Christensen repeated as ACC Swimmer of the Year, just the fourth time that a member of the women's program has won this award twice. Golfer Ben Kohles shared ACC Player of the Year honors in his sport. He led U.Va. and the ACC with a 71.32 stroke average.
Emil Heineking was the ACC Men's Cross Country Performer of the Year after winning the 2009 individual championship at the conference meet, and Danny Hultzen compiled an 11-1 record with a conference-low 2.78 earned run average to become Virginia's first ACC Pitcher of the Year. The rowing team's varsity eight crew (coxswain Sidney Thorsten, Jennifer Cromwell, Katrin Reinert, Desiree Burns, Kristine O'Brien, Martha Kuzzy, Helen Tompkins, Nora Phillips, and Summers Nelson) was the ACC Crew of the Year.
Recognizing Coaching Leadership
Attaining these accolades requires superior coaching. Rowing coach Kevin Sauer, men's soccer coach George Gelnovatch, and field hockey coach Michele Madison were all named national coaches of the year in 2009–10. This is an extraordinary achievement at any university.
Six U.Va. coaches earned a total of seven Coach of the Year awards in the ACC. They were baseball coach Brian O'Connor, men's golf coach Bowen Sargent, men's tennis coach Brian Boland, rowing coach Kevin Sauer, wrestling coach Steve Garland, and men's and women's swimming and diving coach Mark Bernardino (received the honor for both men's and women's swimming and diving).
Mr. Bernardino, now in his thirty-second season, was also honored for his service to the U.Va. community. He received an Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at the 2010 Valedictory Exercises. He has led teams to twenty-one Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, including eleven of the last twelve men's championships and the last three women's championships. Mr. Bernardino has been named ACC Coach of the Year twenty-nine times, twelve for the women's team and seventeen for the men's team. Equally important, more than 450 students on his teams have been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll, and two of Mr. Bernardino's swimmers have been semifinalists for Rhodes Scholarships.
After serving twice as an assistant coach at U.Va., Mike London returned to Charlottesville as head football coach. In his two years as head coach at the University of Richmond, he compiled a 24-5 record, and his 2008 team won the Football Championship Series national title.