Orlando supports its Orlando Magic in a BIG TIME way (and we should) but we often forget about our collegiate home teams: UCF and Rollins College.
Did you know UCF is the country third largest university? Bigger than UF, FSU, and USF. Wow! And if you haven’t visited the campus lately…it’s truly a cool college place. (I attended the Lady Gaga concert at the new UCF Arena… it’s awesome!) Let’s just say the school has come a loooong way since 1963!
And, while their football and basketball teams have yet to hit the big time (Men’s Basketball Coach Kirk Speraw was just fired this past week despite having Michael Jordan’s son on the roster), the cheerleading squad has consistently been ranked one of the top squads in the nation. (Well, this is what I judge a college’s success on, you know!)
2010 marks the fourth year in a row, the Knights have finished in the Top 3, this year behind Kentucky and Alabama, but finishing ahead of LSU and Ohio State. So, while many Orlandoans know very little about UCF’s successes, rest assured that ‘technology school out east of here’ is beginning to claim its rightful place as a major college to be reckoned with.
Now on to Orlando’s other home team: The Rollins College Tars. (Yep, that beautiful little school on the end of Park Avenue in Winter Park.) I may be a bit biased as I coached the Rollins Cheerleaders for a decade, but this hometeam is one worth rooting for. First of all, for the fifth year in a row, Rollins College was ranked #1 southern college by US News & World Report. And while it isn’t nearly the size of UCF (Rollins boasts around 2,600 students), it does have a very impressive set of athletic teams. Soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, and crew are always in the running for conference titles and national rankings.
In particular, this year’s Men’s Basketball Team (27-6) made it to the Sweet 16, where it lost to Valdosta State on Tuesday, March 16. How many Orlandoans even knew Rollins had a basketball team or knew they were any good? Well, now you do! And probably one of the most vital things to note is Rollins athletes are students first. They come to school for an education, not to advance to the professional athletic ranks. And, to me that is what college sports should be about most; kids playing because they love the sport, not because they might eventually get a paycheck from it.
And, while UCF was founded in 1963, Rollins was one the earliest Florida schools, forming in 1895! (Some of its early athletes even went to the early Modern Olympic Games… Rex Beah won a silver medal in water polo in 1904!) So, on February 5, Rollins held a campus-wide event “Rally Rollins” in celebration of 125 years of athletic heritage and school spirit. The inaugural event featured a ceremony honoring Class of 2010 athletes, followed by much-anticipated performances by comedians Jeff Heffron and Dean Edwards. Click here for more info on upcoming events celebrating Rollins’ 125th anniversary.
So, now that you know…perhaps put both UCF and Rollins on your radar to see some quality sporting events!