Women are in the headlines these days.
Democrat Hillary Clinton could become the first female U.S. president if she wins the election Tuesday, Nov. 8 election.
And, at the University of South Carolina, women’s sports teams already have been winning big.
The soccer team completed an undefeated regular season last week, and will be looking ahead to the NCAA tournament.
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The women’s basketball team, which opens play next week, is picked to win a fourth straight league title by a panel of SEC and national media.
The equestrian team, too, is always in the spotlight, having won three national championships.
Yes, the Gamecock women definitely rock. Here, we’ve rounded up a few reasons.
The big picture: The No. 2 ranked Gamecocks finished the season undefeated, becoming the third SEC school with an undefeated mark in league play. They open SEC tournament play as the top seed this week in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Coach Shelley Smith says: “Our senior leadership has been a guide for us all season, whether we’re at home or away. They’ve been a huge part of our success. When things aren’t going our way, they can rely on their experience. They’ve been through a lot, and they know how to handle making tough decisions.
Where’s home?: Stone Stadium
Coming up: NCAA tournament; sites, dates and opponents are still to be determined. The 2016 Women’s College Cup is Friday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 4 in San Jose, California. But there’s a good chance USC will host multiple rounds before the Cup, according to USC’s web site, and the top eight seeds in the bracket will have a chance to host all the way through the Final Four. The first round games are Friday, Nov. 11, Saturday, Nov. 12 or Sunday, Nov. 13. The Selection Show will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 on NCAA.com. Ticket information for any home games will be announced after the selection.
The big picture: The Gamecocks enter the 2016-17 season as the three-time reigning SEC regular-season champions, including last season’s perfect 16-0 league record. And a media panel is picking USC to win the 2017 SEC women’s basketball championship. If the prediction holds, it would be the Gamecocks’ fourth-straight regular-season title and make them just the second team in league history to accomplish that feat. The media also selected junior forward A’ja Wilson as its SEC Preseason Player of the Year. Senior center Alaina Coates joined her on the five-member Preseason All-SEC First Team. Last season, the Gamecocks were ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll, and were ranked No. 2 in the nation for 14 weeks.
And the fans love their team, with the Gamecocks having led the nation in attendance the past two seasons. Coach Dawn Staley likes to say, “Gamecock Nation is not a movement. It’s a lifestyle.”
Coach Dawn Stanley says: “The strength of our team is its versatility. We’re able to play a lot of different people at different positions. To have a veteran front court really helps with stability since we don’t have a whole lot of veterans in the backcourt as far as being in our system. Those are the two qualities that stick out the most at this point.”
Where’s home?: Colonial Life Arena
Coming up: There’s a Sunday, Nov. 6 exhibition vs. Benedict College and the Monday, Nov. 14 season opener at Ohio State. The first home opener is Sunday, Nov. 20 against Hampton University. General admission season tickets are still available for $30; single-game tickets, all general admission, are $8 for adults, $4 for youth 17 and under.
The big picture: This team has given Gamecock fans so much to cockle-doodle-do about, including three national championships, in 2005, 2007 and 2015. This season, the University of South Carolina equestrian team has moved up two spots to No. 6 in the latest poll. The Gamecocks are 3-1 (1-1 SEC) after victories over Baylor and Georgia and a loss to Texas A&M.
What Coach Boo Major says: “We’ve been very pleased with our season so far. I’d like to have a couple of rides back from the TAMU meet and we would have had a better outcome. Having so many home meets this fall, we are looking forward to competing on the road. Then we’ll be able to see where we are in the grand scheme of things.”
Where is home?: One Wood Farm in Blythewood
Coming up: The next competition is Friday, Nov. 4 at Fresno State. USC is finished with home competitions this fall but returns home Feb.
Next home competition: USC is done with home competitions this fall, but will return home Saturday, Feb. 25 vs. Auburn. All of USC’s home equestrian events are free.