The 2013 non-football football dream team
The past few weeks, Virginia sports have followed an oft-repeated script. The football team offers a few moments of brilliance amid otherwise disappointing performances, while nearly every other sport excels.
The football program has a number of problems to address; the other sports just more victories to collect. So, in the vein of rash, crazy solutions to complicated problems, why not put the non-football athletes on the football team? Presenting: The first ever University of Virginia Non-football Football Dream Team!
No offense meant to Ian Frye, who has put in a solid performance so far, but we’ll start with a new kicker. Where else to look but Klöckner Stadium? The Virginia women’s soccer team holds the nation’s top ranking and is currently the only Division I team that has won all of its games. From this very talented squad, junior midfielder and U.S. Women’s National Team member Morgan Brian makes the cut. With seven goals this season, including one in the team’s comeback win against Duke last weekend, Brian would handle field goals and extra points for the Virginia non-football football team with ease. And if she can throw, no one will ever see the Brian fake punt coming!
My next pick for this unorthodox roster is baseball’s Nate Irving at center. Yeah, he’s lacking about five inches and at least 70 pounds, but as far as holding your ground goes, you can’t do much better than a catcher. Irving, who caught 88 percent of Virginia’s innings last season and is featured in this week’s Orange and Blue World Series, surely has the grit — and the low center of gravity — that a center needs.
Mike London and his staff promised us an improved ground game this season, and he gave David Watford the starting quarterback position in part because of his excellent speed. So far that rushing game has failed to materialize, so the non-football football roster will need productivity from new running back and cross country standout Barbara Strehler. True, Strehler prefers distance runs to sprints, but in her second place finish at this weekend’s Panorama Farms Invitational, she ran a 5K in 16:32.7. Seems pretty fast to me! And since I’m in charge of this team, that’s all that really matters, right?
It will be hard to replace fan favorite Jake McGee, but the tight end position will go to a mix of size and agility: tennis player Alex Domijan. At 6’7”, Domijan towers over his tennis and hypothetical football teammates alike. The nature of tennis also means that he has solid footwork and quickness. Domijan’s only fault is that he has yet to play a match this season. He will make his return in the upcoming ITA All-American Championship, where he will put a faulty shoulder to the test. If the injury persists, then we have a problem — healthy tight ends are a must against Ball State.
On the defensive side of the ball, we’ll look to another successful Virginia team — one with weapons! The No. 4 field hockey team recorded a 5-0 shutout of Radford Tuesday, aided by a defense that consistently shuts down its opponents’ offensive attacks. Junior Kelsey LeBlanc has been a cornerstone of the defense, and will therefore lend her services as a linebacker. Sure, she’s only 5’1”, but since we’ve established that she can keep the stick, that just puts her at the perfect position to hack away at people’s knees. What do you mean, that’s “targeting”?
Should the non-football football team’s defense allow a lot of touchdowns — which, of course, they will not — then they’re going to need a weapon on the special teams unit. I’m no volleyball expert, but I do know that volleyball players can jump. Like, really high. The Virginia volleyball team recorded a big 3-0 win at Wake Forest this weekend, led by junior Tori Janowski’s 14 kills, 11 digs and four service aces. Thus, she’ll block punts and extra points.
Though basketball season has not yet begun, the men’s team performed admirably at their Meet the Team Day, posing for photos, signing autographs and answering fans’ questions. For this reason, and for his trademark enthusiasm, sophomore Justin Anderson may play whatever position he likes on the non-football football team. His athleticism will serve him well on the field, but more importantly, Simba will boost morale on the sideline when things get ugly. Come on — with that smile, how could anyone be discouraged?
A final position to assign is, of course, the quarterback. The signal caller must be athletic, intelligent, mentally tough and commanding. Since Thomas Jefferson is out of the question here, that obviously leaves one conclusion: Dean of Students Allen Groves. Never mind the fact that he’s not a student — I bet he has really strong hands after receiving so many high fives. He’s up for it.
In all seriousness, my non-football football team is probably not ready to face Ball State on Saturday. No matter how frustrating the actual football team can be, they’re highly qualified athletes, and our best hope on the gridiron. Let’s leave them be, while our non-football athletes carry on winning.
Just as Domijan and LeBlanc might not be able to win a football game, Watford and McGee likely couldn’t jump into a tennis match or field hockey game and excel, either. And of course, I am obviously not cut out for creating a football team, let alone coaching one. So for now, let’s all just stick with what we’re good at and enjoy the results.