After falling without a sport in 2020, it has been thrilling to see so many Spiders compete against each other on the court, the court, the grill, the greens and more over the past two months. With so much going on on campus, it’s sometimes tempting to think we’ve finally returned to the familiar rhythms and routines we all loved before the pandemic. As pleasing as this fiction may be, it’s crucial to remember that our return to “normalcy” requires us to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19. On campus, spiders of all stripes continue to make smart decisions to protect themselves from this terrible virus. Make sure you do the same, so that we can put this difficult time behind us soon.
As we approach the middle of our fall sports season, I want to highlight a handful of remarkable performances that we have already seen from Spiders this school year.
Spider football enters its rivalry with James Madison on Saturday at 2-3, with a pair of unbalanced wins over Howard and Lehigh. The Spiders have spent several weeks in the top 20 of the national standings during the season and have a good chance of recovering their health and stringing together a few wins in the second half of their calendar. Hopefully all the Spider fans in the region will come to campus to support UR in its last three home games as well as to see the latest Robins Stadium feature, a state of the art LED video card in the north area that measures 60 feet wide and 28 feet high! This is the latest (and perhaps the most important) sign that Richmond Athletics is committed to providing our student-athletes and varsity programs with state-of-the-art athletic facilities that give the Spiders a solid advantage on the pitch. .
May we all be as comfortable at home as Spider football has been this season. After Sunday’s victory over Rhode Island, Spider soccer is now 5-0-1 at President’s Field and Marty beallThe team positioned themselves near the top of the Atlantic 10 two weeks before the start of the conference tournament.
Spider field hockey has started its conference season well, winning three of its first four games. In addition, the team deserves credit for measuring themselves against the best, as the Spiders have faced a ranked team in five of nine non-conference games this year.
Our men’s and women’s cross country teams are busy preparing for the Atlantic 10 Championship, which will take place on October 30.e in Dayton, Ohio. The men’s team will defend their tag team title last spring, while the women will look to win their fourth title in the past seven seasons.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams have had some individual success at the start of their respective fall seasons, as has Spider Golf. Our men’s team won the 12-team VCU Shootout in September, finishing one stroke ahead of the host Rams, and our women’s team won the 13-team Navy Fall Invitational earlier this month. Even though it wasn’t until October, it’s already the first time that both Spider golf programs have won an event in the same season since 2016-17!
With last year’s season disrupted by COVID-19, we are on the cusp of one of the most anticipated basketball seasons in Richmond Athletics history. Our men’s team has already added over 400 new season ticket holders this offseason, and over 97% of our existing season ticket holders have renewed their seats for this season. This is already the most new season tickets and the highest renewal rate on record for our men’s basketball program. Expectations are also high for our women’s team, who have just finished a 13-9 season and are looking to increase their winning percentage for a fourth consecutive season.
Hardwood isn’t the only place to see the Spiders’ championship-level performance this winter. Our swim and dive team will soon be back in the pool to defend their 2021 Atlantic 10 title. The Spiders will start their race for a second straight conference crown on October 22-23 when they host the Richmond duels.
Our efforts to prepare Spider student-athletes for success on the competitive field, in the classroom, and in their future endeavors are both endless and ever-evolving. We are continually working to find new ways to ensure that the student-athlete experience at the University of Richmond is second to none. This goal was a determining factor in our decision to launch the Spider Performance and Development Program (SPD) last fall. The SPD has one goal: to train champions for life. To achieve this, the program focuses on eight key areas: academic excellence, leadership development, athletic performance and analysis, career preparation and alumni engagement, diversity and inclusion, nutrition, sports medicine and wellness, and mental health and sports psychology. After a year of tremendous progress and positive reviews from current Spiders, we are committed to providing the necessary resources to take the Spider performance and development program to the next level. Look out for ways to support this critically important business during the Spider Athletic Fund’s SPD Giving Initiative, starting October 27.e and until November 5e.
Perhaps no group of spiders can provide a better example of becoming lifelong champions than the 2021 Richmond Track and Field Hall of Fame class, which was announced earlier this month. Former men’s basketball coach John Beilein, lacrosse star Heather Gardner Quinn, quarterback Stacy Tutt, team doctor Dr Chris Young and Helen Dodd Driscoll – who earned a total of 15 college letters in basketball, track and field, tennis and field hockey – contributed so much to the Spiders and earned a spot alongside the all-time greats of Richmond Athletics. The 2021 class will be dedicated at a ceremony and reception on November 5 and honored at halftime of our Homecoming football game against Towson on November 6. Hope you join me on campus this weekend as spiders from all over return to Richmond to reconnect with our wonderful university.
Take care of yourself, be well and…. Go spiders!
Vice-president and director of sports
John P. Hardt