It was an interesting question, posed to me this morning by Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi on his radio show. With the academic year over, who is the coach of the year at Florida? I had to pick, and given the success that the Gators had this year it was not easy.
UF won two national titles, successfully defending last year’s title in men’s indoor track & field and winning its first since 2003 in women’s tennis. They had a chance at a few more. The men’s outdoor track & field team finished third after missing out on some points it was expected to take. The baseball and softball teams both made it to the championship series in their sports.
On the conference level, Florida matched its best year ever by winning eight SEC titles. And it added a ninth with the school’s first American Lacrosse Conference title.
Twelve Gators were named player of the year. Ten coaches earned the top honor on the conference level.
So which did I pick? A coach who wasn’t named coach of the year by the SEC in his sport – women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist. To be fair, he was named the ITA national coach of the year, and with good reason.
Not only did the Gators win an NCAA title in women’s tennis, they did it with a lineup of mostly freshmen and sophomores. And, most impressively, they ended Stanford’s home winning streak to do it. The Cardinal had won 184 consecutive home matches before the Gators’ win in the championship, a streak that extended back to 1999 – when the current players were in elementary school.
Lauren Embree made it dramatic, falling 4-0 in the deciding match before tying and then falling behind in the tiebreak. Not surprisingly, the sophomore credited her coach with helping her improve since Florida fell to Stanford in last year’s championship.
So that’s my pick, but now I pose the question to you. Which Florida coach would you pick as the coach of the year? I’ve put the coaches who took that honor from the conference in the poll, but you can write in someone in the comments. I’m curious to hear what you all would say.
Please use theregistration to leave a Reply