Florida A&M University athletic programs are currently in a state of flux.
Despite reports of a possible new athletic director, the search continues. When the
new athletic director is formally chosen, he will be the fifth in the last eight years.
Florida A&M basketball is currently on the rebound. The men’s team is coming off a nine-win season. Nine wins matches their lowest win total since the 2001 season.
They also were bounced out of ther first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic
Tournament at the hands of Bethune- Cookman University for the first time in three years.
The women’s team had more regular season success, toppling major schools
like the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. The out-ofconference
success did not translate to success in the MEAC. The ladies amassed a 9-6 conference record and were also bounced out of the MEAC tournament in the first round.
Neither team is bad, both are ready to improve and have young players to develop and grow under. The men’s and women’s teams are graduating one and two seniors, respectively. Both are also under the leadership of second-year coaches.
Football has enjoyed winning seasons, earning nine and eight wins in head coach Joe Taylor’s first two years at the helm. Taylor has earned the respect of the community and his team. What has not happened during Taylor’s reign (so far) is a post-season berth. It is coming, the team is talented enough and Taylor has the right approach, but at the same
time, it has not happened yet.
The three major sports ar e still trying to find their identity. The major ones according to ESPN anyway.
Meanwhile, sports that do not garner as much attention are the ones true Florida A&M sports fans should be watching.
The volleyball team has not lost a MEAC championship in nine years.
The softball team is also a ninetime MEAC champion, with seven NCAA tournament appearances. The wrestling team (that funds itself) competes at a national level just about
every week. The school has record breaking swimmers.
The sad truth is most people on campus do not know who the starters and stars are on any of these teams.
It is not that the major sports do not deserve attention. They are major for a reason. The major sports are worthy of all the attention this school can offer.
They are all scholarship athletes and are talented in their fields.
But the lesser-known sports have scholarship athletes too. International scholarship athletes, in the case of the volleyball team.
These teams work hard, decimate opponents, win championships and bring glory to the school. They wear orange and green with pride and make other schools fear the hiss of the Rattler.
More people need to know that Jovana Blazeski routinely crushed volleyballs in the faces of various opponents. More people need to know that the wrestling team, led by young coach Abdul Sharif, went across the street and beat Florida State.
Take some time out and get to know the teams that bring home the trophies on a regular basis. Everyone in the school already knows Curtis Pulley, Cecil Bent and Deidra Jones.
Get to know Maria Gomez, Melissa Oliphant and Roland Pitts.