The UConn women’s basketball team’s dynastic run has been nothing short of remarkable. With a record 11 NCAA Division I national championships—including four won consecutively from 2013 through 2016—and a 111-game win streak that spanned three seasons, UConn’s dominance has been largely unprecedented throughout women’s college basketball and sports as a whole. Although the team’s closely-contested, heartbreaking Final Four losses across each of the last three seasons may leave some questioning the program’s current state, its inability to meet our ridiculously high expectations should not prevent us from recognizing its overwhelmingly positive impact universitywide and statewide.
UConn women’s basketball serves several practical benefits. For one, the college program’s existence and success fills the void left by Connecticut’s lack of a professional sports team. Said void has only expanded with the men’s team’s struggles since its 2014 national championship, so the spotlight has only shone brighter upon the UConn women in recent years. Naturally, UConn attracts significantly greater revenue and student intake whenever its women’s basketball program thrives; in fact, UConn’s welcoming road sign notes its women’s basketball team’s eleven championships atop a list of the university’s athletic accomplishments. Some might even say that UConn women’s basketball poses the best argument for the university’s athletic programs to move out of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). After all, superior regular season competition might better prepare the team for the NCAA tournament’s later stages and, as we saw this year, prove to be the difference between earning a 2-seed or a 1-seed.
Of course, UConn women’s basketball delivers many intangible rewards also. The team and its extraordinary triumphs on and off the court epitomize female empowerment, and our willingness to stand behind our Lady Huskies in good and bad times and place their incredible feats at the forefront of public conversation should apply to women who do not play on our basketball team. Furthermore, our players’ teamwork and leadership know no bounds. In addition to compiling points and victories, they perform well academically, never get into trouble off the court and maintain their composure and class even under the most unfortunate circumstances. Outside of their prodigious athletic ability and on-the-court fierceness, these women could not be more relatable and approachable. Ultimately they serve as excellent role models, especially for young girls developing their respective identities and for college students acclimating themselves to such a challenging environment. Despite some outsiders’ misogynist claims that women’s sports are inconsequential or that UConn’s dominance ruins women’s college basketball, UConn alumni and Connecticut natives would beg to differ; if anything, our women’s basketball program’s unfathomable success fosters fans’ championship-or-bust mentality and rivals’ heightened competitiveness every season.
UConn’s legendary women’s basketball program will reside in the annals of sports history. Even if the team fails to win a national championship in 2020 or in the near future, we should appreciate its accomplishments and their effect on our campuswide and statewide communities.