The Dukes won their first Atlantic 10 championship in eight years when women’s cross country beat the conference wide field on Saturday. I won’t lie. I was a little excited.
At the moment, I’ll celebrate whatever victory I can, but it will disappoint me if this ends up a flash in the pan rather than a harbinger for good things to come. I hope Duquesne athletics begins hanging banners and winning trophies on a regular basis to the point where winning in women’s cross country doesn’t get three related posts in the week that follows. While its certainly something I’ll always acknowledge, I look forward to a time when I take a win like this one for granted.
After 10 years, I think Greg Amodio and the athletic department finally have themselves in a position to get over the hump. With most of the facilities improved and the scholarships nice and balanced, they can begin reinvesting the funds that would have gone to upgrading a locker room to adding a second assistant coach for men’s soccer or flying women’s volleyball to Rhode Island rather than taking a bus. While the improved facilities and cosmetic upgrades make the team more attractive to recruits, an extra brain on the field or a comfortable and rested athlete on the road translates to more wins. The facilities were the foundation and now the athletic department can approach their budget differently and the coaches can add on to what has built.
As I see it, the Dukes could hang three or four more banners this season. While not the A-10, football has returned to the driver’s seat of the NEC and control their own destiny. In spite of the Dukes losing to George Washington Saturday, A-10 volleyball looks like a complete crap shoot this year that anyone could win. Women’s basketball was picked third in the A-10 and I suspect they’ll threaten to break through in the conference tournament. While UMass looks well ahead of the competition, coaches should pick women’s lacrosse second in the conference.
It may have taken a little longer for the athletic department to get to this point than some had hoped. Others might not even care if men’s basketball continues to struggle. However, if the tide is rising for some Olympic sports, it probably means the support has improved for everything. I think the Dukes are in a position to begin collecting trophies on a regular basis. Getting over the hump is the hardest part, but I think the athletic department has put coaches in a number of sports in position to do so.