Top 10 Virginia Sports Moments Of My College Tenure

The past four years have blessed me with some of my best memories and friendships of my life. Among those memories are sports moments that stand out. As someone who applied to Virginia in the fall of 2019, I might have gotten my hopes up with expectations of Orange Bowl appearances and men’s basketball National Championships. While I didn’t exactly get that, UVA athletics has produced some amazing moments over the past four years.

Here are my top 10 Virginia sports moments from my time in college.

10. Emma Navarro advances to third round of Australian Open

Emma Navarro made it on this list because I find it pretty cool she arrived on Grounds in the same class as me, and is now crushing it in pro tennis. In her freshman season at Virginia, Navarro won the NCAA Championships singles title. She eventually went pro and this January, won her first two matchups in the Australian Open. Her strong performance shot her up to No. 23 in singles rankings. Currently, she sits at No. 20 in the world. Navarro has a bright future in pro tennis and it’ll be fun to watch knowing we were in the same incoming class.

9. Men’s Tennis goes back-to-back

The Virginia men’s tennis team has been a dominant program for years, including not dropping a single regular season ACC match in the past four seasons. The highlights of this dominance are back-to-back national titles in 2022 and 2023. Across the two National Championship runs, the Cavaliers dropped just 4 sets in 12 total tournament matches (each match is best of seven). Interestingly enough, the Cavaliers are competing for a third straight championship as I write this.

8. Tony Bennett becomes Virginia’s winningest coach

As mentioned earlier, I was fully expecting my four years of college to be filled with tons of basketball success and a couple deep tournament runs. Suffice to say, it hasn’t been exactly that. Despite my expectations not fully being met, one moment to point out is coach Tony Bennett became the winningest coach in Virginia men’s basketball history during my time as a tudent. On January 7, 2023, in a home game against Syracuse, Bennett captured his 327th win at UVA, surpassing legendary coach Terry Holland. Bennett is one of the top active coaches in all of college basketball. While I would have loved to see a tournament win (or two, or three, or four …), I certainly appreciate TB and all he has done for Virginia basketball.

7. Pick-6 against North Carolina to seal an upset victory on the road

A highlight not only from this past season, but one of the top football moments in my four years was the upset against North Carolina. With a record of 1-5, nobody picked the Cavaliers to win on the road against UNC. The Tar Heels entered the game with an undefeated record of 6-0, and were the No. 10 ranked team in the country. Under the lights in front of a packed crowd at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Virginia pulled off the upset. An interception returned for a touchdown from linebacker James Jackson sealed the victory. All of Trinity Irish Pub cheered as Jackson crossed the goal line. Even we were stunned by this win. In what has been a tough four years for Virginia football, this moment will certainly be remembered.

6. Women’s basketball beating No. 5 Virginia Tech in front of a record crowd

The women’s basketball team has undergone a rebuild in the past four years. It started with the hiring of coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, who then went out and bolstered the roster with transfers and top high school recruits. This past season, UVA set season ticket and attendance records, evidence of how this rebuild is working. In the Cavaliers’ final regular season game of the season, in front of a record crowd of nearly 12,000 fans, Virginia upset No. 5 Virginia Tech. It was the Hoos’ first win over a top five team since 2017. The win also served as further evidence of a promising future with the women’s basketball program.

5. Mike Hollins’ first touchdown since shooting

Virginia athletics, and the entire University and city of Charlottesville, was rocked by the shooting in November of 2022 that took the lives of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry. Virginia running back Mike Hollins was also shot, but made a full recovery following numerous surgeries and extensive rehab. In the Cavaliers’ first home game of the 2023 season, Hollins scored a touchdown with 1:02 left in the first half. Mike’s strength and resilience was on full display as he lowered his shoulder and ran through a JMU defender. The entire crowd rose to their feet as Hollins burst through the goal line. It was a moment that like all Virginia football fans, I will remember forever.

4. Women’s swimming and diving completes 4-peat

If you looked up dominance in the dictionary, there would be a photo of the Virginia women’s swimming and diving team. Before even arriving on Grounds, I became familiar with the talent level on this team as I watched Kate Douglass, Paige Madden, and Alex Walsh all compete and medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It was evidence of what was to come, as the women’s swimming and diving team has won all four NCAA National Championships during my time in college. Records have been set, and then broken, and then broken again. Many trophies have been lifted. It’ll be exciting to watch a few swimmers from this team compete at the Paris Olympics.

3. Kyle Teel’s grand slam to send UVA to Omaha his freshman season

I’ve been lucky enough so far to see two Virginia baseball teams make it to Omaha, and this year’s squad has a good chance of making it back. The baseball moment that stands out the most to me has to be Kyle Teel’s grand slam in the 2021 Super Regional. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh against Dallas Baptist, a freshman Kyle Teel launched a grand slam to put the Hoos up 5-2. The fact that Teel was a freshman at this time makes this moment even cooler. Furthermore, getting to root for guys like him and Jake Gelof, who arrived at UVA the same time as me, in the MLB will be exciting.

2. Reece Beekman’s game winner at Cameron Indoor

There are two Reece Beekman buzzer beaters that could be on this list, but it just has to be the one against Duke. On a Monday night in February of 2022, the Cavaliers traveled to historic Cameron Indoor Stadium for a matchup with No. 7 Duke. Down two with 7.2 seconds left, Virginia inbounded the ball. Kihei Clark took a few dribbles before finding Beekman who drilled a 3 to win the game. I remember watching this game in my apartment with a couple roommates and absolutely losing it when that shot went in. The entire apartment building let out a collective roar as practically every unit had the game on. In four years that didn’t really produce a ton of great basketball memories, this one was special.

1. Men’s lacrosse 2021 National Championship

There are a couple reasons this moment is at the top of the list. The first is that I grew up playing lacrosse and have a great appreciation for the game. The second is this moment, and the National Championship game in particular, felt like my introduction to Virginia athletics. Given that my first year was 2020-21, it wasn’t exactly normal. Coming from a small school in Philadelphia, I was super excited for tons of school spirit and large student sections at games. The latter was something I really missed out on in my first year. Of course some students could still attend football and basketball games, but they’d have to sit apart from each other.

By the time May rolled around, restrictions were beginning to ease up and the NCAA was allowing pretty normal fan attendance. Two friends and I saw this as an opportunity, so the three of us hopped in a car and drove from Philadelphia to Connecticut the morning of the game. Inside the stadium, the student section was absolutely packed. It was a back and forth game and with every goal we erupted as a collective body. Nobody took a seat the entire game. Obviously winning the National Championship was exciting and fun in itself, but attending this game and watching it with other passionate fans felt like my “Welcome to UVA” moment.

What are your top moments from the past four years? Share it on the message boards!

3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. That 2021 Lacrosse Championship was epic and it couldn’t have happened against a better opponent.

  2. Solid list. Might have put the 4-peat higher, but it wasn’t dramatic because they’ve been so good.

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