Sports Programs Are On the Rise at UCI. Don’t Miss Out on the Fun

There are a few topics of discussion that are bound to come up time and time again during your stay at UCI, including Mesa Court versus Middle Earth, how Irvine is so ridiculously safe, how Irvine has two cops within eyesight at every intersection and, most of all, how we have a science library instead of a football team.

While the Anteaters have indeed maintained an undefeated record since 1965 on the gridiron, all of the hoopla over football is one of the most overrated issues at UCI. Even if we were to get a team, the lack of tradition and non-BCS conference status would guarantee multiple losing seasons and a long, long road to respectability. A good example of UCI’s plight as a football program would be UC Davis. The Aggies recently opened the 2009 season with a 51-0 loss to Fresno State.

Considering that almost one-third of the college football schedule is over before school even starts for the quarter system, and that all games are on Saturday when commuter students aren’t even on campus, the lack of a football team should not be used as an excuse for the pathetically apathetic attitude of the student body toward the UCI athletic scene.

In the 2006-2007 school year, UCI won the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy as the top athletic program in the nation for the 94 non-football schools in Div I. That year, the ‘Eaters became everyone’s favorite Cinderella story in the College World Series, and the men’s volleyball team took home the national championship. The good news is that Anteater athletics has continued to rise across the board.

Men’s volleyball won their second national title in three years last year, taking down USC. Head Coach John Speraw won a gold medal as an assistant coach for the United States in the 2008 Olympics and continues to establish UCI as a bona fide volleyball dynasty.

Last season, the baseball team was ranked number one in the nation for six weeks of the season, dominated the Big West, a traditional baseball powerhouse and hosted a playoff regional for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, the NCAA made the egregious error of placing the University of Virginia as the No. 2 seed in UCI’s bracket, even though UVA was one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Cavaliers would go on to win the National Championship.

It doesn’t end there. UCI basketball is indeed in Division I, and fights for a spot in that NCAA tournament bracket that everyone gets so obsessed with every March. Contrary to popular belief, they do not “suck,” and have boasted multiple NBA players, including current Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. In 2005, UCI upset No. 13 Stanford, and the ‘Eaters have also beaten UCLA multiple times, including in the postseason National Invitation Tournament. Kevin Magee was an Associated Press First-team All-American in both 1981 and 1982 with the likes of Isaiah Thomas and James Worthy.

UCI men’s soccer also had a historic run last season, winning the talent-rich Big West and making it all the way into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to No. 3 St. John’s in New York. Men’s water polo, a perennial powerhouse consistently ranked in the top 10, had four alumni on the 2008 US Olympic team that brought home a silver medal.

Enough is enough with all you UCI students who still root for UCLA, USC or whatever school your parents attended over the Anteaters. The bottom line is that we all attend UCI and not those other schools. When we graduate, it will be UCI on our degree and UCI’s future achievements that we can be proud of.

Think of it this way: UCI is like our child. Let’s call him Peter. As parents, we owe it to Peter to support him in whatever he does. Our neighbors’ kids, Bruin and Trojan, may be more successful in more popular sports, and they may have more friends, supporters and money. They have been around a lot longer, and built up a lot more tradition, but the fact of the matter is that neither is our child. To ignore Peter and his less publicized accomplishments would be failing our essential responsibilities as parents. The sooner this is realized at UCI, the sooner we get to appreciate and further boost the unique and admirable traits that Peter, and our Anteaters, have to offer.