Maryland women’s hoops coach Mark Turgeon applies old-school lesson to young athletes

Even the thought of equality between football and men’s softball players seems like an absurd statement. Football and softball, don’t often cross paths in the press, for obvious reasons.

For many years, softball was the sports’s second-tier women’s sport, behind tennis. Both ladies were historically lumped into the same name. Softball and football stood on opposite ends of the table, considering the lack of recognition for the most sport’s most popular and glamourous events.

Maryland men’s basketball coach and Maryland coach-in-waiting Mark Turgeon is one of many who changed this old way of thinking. Turgeon has introduced women’s sports to Maryland, where he’s revved up women’s soccer and women’s basketball. Those programs went on to reach semifinals and Final Fours, respectively.

If we can change the narrative of softball, maybe we can change more sports.

“We’re a smart group of guys,” Turgeon told recruiting website WhenNumbersRock. “We’re starting to see how we can change men’s basketball.”

Only Major League Baseball, the NFL and college football offer a bigger stage for women athletes than lacrosse. That, as much as stats and stats, is what really matters to lacrosse fans.

The game’s biggest stars are girls. Katherine Webb, the perfect wife and college co-captain for Alabama’s National Championship, is one of them. She just so happens to have a short term on the “Dancing With the Stars” lineup. Notre Dame freshman Julie Karczewski, the youngest lacrosse player ever to appear on the national stage, has drawn comparisons to Webb.

The past few years have also seen a rise in women’s Division I lacrosse, as more and more top recruits are signing with Division I programs. Just four years ago, when Melina Castano, now a sophomore at Northwestern, received her letter of intent, Division I lacrosse had just 32 players. The game now boasts 57 D-I players.

Let’s hope some of the buzz and energy from last year’s National Women’s Soccer League Soccer, the professional league for women in the United States, doesn’t fade away. Hopefully, the tide of change surrounding women’s sports on campus will continue. That’s good for youth players, so they know they can explore more. It’s also good for female athletes, for them to believe they can make it in whatever arena they choose, just as men do.

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