UF women win Capital One Cup
Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 9:06 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 9:06 a.m.
When Florida gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn interviewed for her current job 12 years ago, she said what stood out most was UF’s support of women’s sports.
“I wanted to be part of that,” Faehn said. “I wanted gymnastics to be part of that greatness that we have here at Florida.”
With national titles in both gymnastics and softball this season, Florida sealed its first-ever women’s Capital One Cup win in 2013-14. UF’s winning total of 152 points also was aided by top-four finishes in women’s indoor and outdoor track and a sixth-place finish in women’s swimming and diving. In addition, Florida received points for finishing in the top 10 in major polls in lacrosse (4th), tennis (5th) and soccer (10th).
The Capital One Cup measures success of men’s and women’s Division I athletic programs throughout the country. UCLA finished second in the women’s division with 110 points, while Stanford was third with 106 points.
"This is a wonderful accomplishment by our women's athletics program, and we'd like to congratulate the female student athletes, coaches and support staff that helped make this possible," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement.
Faehn has led Florida gymnastics to back-to-back national titles in 2013 and 2014, while UF softball coach Tim Walton guided the Gators to their first national title earlier this month.
“Obviously, we’re very excited about that and very excited about our total women’s program,” Walton said. “That’s one of the things we sell to all of our recruits across the country, that the University of Florida is one of the best women’s sports programs in the country from top to bottom and every sport. It says a lot not only about our athletic department, but it also says a lot about the resources that Jeremy Foley gives us to compete.”
Those resources have included significant financial commitments to women’s sports facilities. Florida recently spent $4.4 million for a gymnastics studio expansion at the O’Connell Center, and spent $16 million to build a state-of-the-art facility for lacrosse when the sport was launched in 2009. Other capital improvements for women’s sports have included close to $1 million spent on a batting cage expansion and new scoreboard for softball, $780,000 for the resurfacing of Percy Beard Track and $1.6 million for the building of an indoor tennis facility.
“Jeremy Foley makes sure we have the best of the best,” Faehn said. “It shows the support for our student athletes.”
With the financial support, there’s also a bond among coaches throughout UF’s athletic programs. Faehn said she was glued to the television set watching the Women’s College World Series, texting Walton’s wife as she watched the Gators. Women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler and women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist flew out on a private jet with Foley to Oklahoma City to watch the WCWS in person. Walton said on the day of UF’s national title game, he received a phone call from Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan and a text from Florida football coach Will Muschamp, both offering support.
“I think every coach on this campus knows just how hard it is to compete day in and day out, year in and year out,” Walton said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.”
Faehn said the UF’s women’s golf team came to watch their national championship meet, and the women’s basketball team has come to support UF’s gymnasts as well.
“That makes it just so much more exciting because we could live through their sports as well,” Faehn said.
Since the Capital One Cup was introduced in 2010-11, Florida is the first athletic program to win in both men’s and women’s sports. The Gators claimed men’s Capital One Cup honors in 2011 and 2012. For each win, Capital One contributes $200,000 to UF to support student athlete scholarships. The men’s Capital One Cup will be announced after the College World Series.
For now, though, UF has a significant women’s athletic honor to celebrate.
“It speaks volumes for the strength of the university, what’s provided for these sports, but also just the discipline, the dedication of all the coaching staff and the female students here working together,” Faehn said. “It’s just really incredible.”