I might be a little late to the party on this one, but something happened this past weekend that deserves recognition.
Usually, interesting storylines involving non-revenue college sports receive little-to-no coverage from the media. College sports fans tend to only care about basketball, football and baseball.
Heading into the 2018 season, the biggest question facing the Gators was how they would replace the production of last year’s seniors.
Consequently, they miss out on some of the best stories, ones that bring to light topics more important than any game or player.
What I’m referring to is from this weekend’s UF lacrosse game against Colorado. The average fan might recall that the Gators won the game 16-9 and that it was the season opener. That’s it.
But the story surrounding the lacrosse game was much more important.
Colorado senior attacker Julia Sarcona died in a single-car accident on Jan. 13, nearly four weeks before the Buffaloes’ season opener against Michigan on Feb. 9.
A team preparing for the upcoming season had to turn its attention to comforting one another as well as Sarcona’s family. Nearly 1,751 miles away, UF senior midfielder Allie Pavinelli felt the same pain.
Pavinelli and Sarcona grew up together playing lacrosse in Northport, New York, as neighbors. Instantly, a story covered extensively in the Boulder, Colorado, area now has a unique tie to Gainesville. It could have been an article that was picked up right away. It wasn’t, not even by us, the Alligator.
Even after the game had passed and both teams wore shirts and wristbands remembering Sarcona, not much was mentioned in news stories outside of maybe a sentence or two or a quote from coach Amanda O’Leary.
“This was an emotional game for us,” she said. “We asked our team to honor Julia (Sarcona) by playing as hard as they can, and I feel like we accomplished that.”
But like I said, most people were too focused on what was going on with the Florida football, baseball or men’s basketball teams rather than pay attention to this tragedy.
This was the type of story that had the potential to garner a lot of national attention, even bringing more focus to the sport itself. But more importantly, it’s a rare story that meant a lot more than sports in general.
Sometimes it’s important to take the player out of the game and focus on the story at hand.