To many fans, Virginia sports are a lot like a fall treat — amazing, addicting and comforting. But what if Virginia sports actually were those treats? In the spirit of fall, let’s take a look at what that might look like.
Baseball — Pillsbury Shape Sugar Cookies
Many people know that the Pillsbury Shape Sugar Cookies are one of the best — if not the best — things to hit the shelves each coming holiday. Similarly, the baseball team is one of the best programs at Virginia right now. Last year, the team was winning games with huge margins and exhilarating baseball fans left and right before the season’s abrupt end. This year, the Cavaliers are poised to continue in the same fashion and possibly even take home a trophy from Omaha, Neb. — home of the College World Series — in the spring.
Men’s basketball — Candy corn
The men’s basketball team is in quite a limbo right now, as it is still trying to rebuild after its national championship run in 2019. Candy corn is widely regarded as a fall candy that people either love or hate, and the men’s basketball team reflects that sentiment. Some fans love what the team is doing at the moment, but many are displeased after last season’s up-and-down performance. While expectations are high, it remains to be seen whether the Cavaliers can swing fans one way or the other this season — but at this point, the team is the candy corn of Virginia Athletics.
Women’s basketball — Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts
The women’s basketball team is not the most hyped team at Virginia, just as pumpkin pie is not the most thrilling Pop Tart flavor. Though the women’s basketball team might not be the most successful team, it is well-liked and often puts on impressive performances at John Paul Jones Arena. The team, like the sugary filling inside of the Pumpkin Pie Pop Tart, just needs an upgrade to be real contenders. However, it’s hard to see that happening anytime soon as the team will be playing this year without many of its top offensive and defensive players who graduated last year.
Cross-country — Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
Dynamic and explosive are two adjectives that can be used to describe Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider and the cross-country team alike. This season, the cross-country team crushed the competition — the men’s team in particular excelled and placed first in every meet before the ACC Championships. Overall, the team is competing at a high level compared to the other fall sports at Virginia and likewise, Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is a top-tier beverage perfect for the fall season.
Field hockey — Reese’s Pumpkins
Everybody knows that Reese’s Pumpkins are very different from regular Reese’s. The Pumpkins have an imbalanced ratio of peanut butter to chocolate and are not as enjoyable as a classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Last year when Virginia field hockey was a real national championship contender, the team might have fared better on this list, but the way the Cavaliers performed this season subjects them to the label of a Reese’s Pumpkin.
Football — Candied yams
The football team this year is exactly like taking the first bite into a scoop of candied yams — mediocre. After losing four starters to the NFL, the team has been struggling to find its identity, and it’s difficult to see that narrative changing by the end of the season. The team, like the recipe for candied yams, needs some adjustments because right now, everything is a little off.
Men’s golf — Caramel Apple Pops
The men’s golf team and Caramel Apple Pops aren’t very good. Caramel Apple Pops sit in the pantry for months on end after Halloween until somebody musters up the determination to clean out the candy drawer and throw them away. Likewise, everybody neglects the men’s golf team because it doesn’t live up to the high standards that other Virginia teams have set throughout their histories.
Women’s golf — Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
You never know what you’re going to get with these cookies, just like you never know what you’re going to get from the women’s golf team. Sometimes the team will play well and place high in the ranks — the equivalent of a fresh, gooey pumpkin cheesecake cookie. Other times though, the team will place second-to-last and have performances that can be compared to pulling a stale, flavorless cookie out of the Pepperidge Farm bag.
Men’s lacrosse — Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
Most people can agree that the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and the men’s lacrosse team are both solid. After going on a remarkable championship run in 2019, men’s lacrosse was poised to defend that title before its season was canceled. As Virginia fans prepare for the upcoming season, they would like to see the right balance of offensive and defensive momentum that has proven to give Cavaliers the edge over their opponents in the past — just as the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew has the right balance of pumpkin spice and vanilla that wins over coffee lovers with each sip.
Women’s lacrosse — La Colombe Pumpkin Spice Draft Latte
The women’s lacrosse team is living up to the University’s aim to be good, but not its aim to be great. Similar to the pumpkin spice edition of the classic La Colombe Draft Latte, the women’s lacrosse team could be way better than it actually is with some minor tweaks. If the team was able to close out during important games and pull ahead of the competition in crucial ACC matchups, it might be great — for now, it is no such thing.
Rowing — IHOP seasonal pancakes
The IHOP seasonal pancakes — whether it be the Pumpkin Spice stack, Cinn-a-Stack or another — are never given the glory they deserve, and neither is the rowing team. The rowing team has won the ACC title for a whopping 10-straight seasons, and yet people really don’t seem to give it the time of day. Maybe it’ll take a shining national champion trophy to get Virginia fans to care, and as for IHOP’s seasonal pancakes, they might just have to be served with side of the best hash browns and crispy bacon the establishment offers to entice customers to try them.
Men’s soccer — Apple cider
The men’s soccer team was not playing too well at the beginning of the season — losing in overtime or double-overtime in three of the first four games — but after an impressive shutout against Syracuse, the team really started to heat up. In the same way that apple cider just gets better the longer you warm it up, so does the men’s soccer team with each game. Ideally in the last matchups of the ACC Tournament, the Cavaliers will just keep getting warmer and reach the perfect temperature in time to go all the way.
Women’s soccer — Pumpkin pie
The women’s soccer team and the pumpkin pie have one thing in common — reliability. You can count on the team to play an entertaining, competitive game of soccer, and you know that a slice of pumpkin pie will always deliver a rich, smooth flavor. This year, let’s hope the team will be reliable enough to succeed in the postseason and maybe even advance deep in the NCAA Tournament, which they failed to do last year.
Softball — Pumpkin cheesecake
Just like there isn’t much payoff for the hours of work it takes to make a pumpkin cheesecake, Virginia Athletics is not getting much payoff for the amount of resources they’ve contributed to the softball program in recent years. Just last year, brand new facilities at Palmer Park were unveiled, but the team wasn’t really able to find its stride before the season ended. Virginia fans should hope that something changes this upcoming season to make softball worth their while.
Men’s squash — Apple pie topped with American cheese
Apple pie topped with American cheese, like the men’s squash team, is way better than anyone thinks. Squash isn’t the most popular sport in the collegiate world quite yet — as evidenced by the fact that it isn’t even an NCAA-sanctioned sport — but it’s unfair to discount the men’s team at Virginia, who finished last season with 19 wins and 2 players being named All-Americans by the College Squash Association. Give credit to this team and give credit to American cheese slices on apple pie — they’re both good.
Women’s squash — Apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream
The women’s squash team is also very good — they just don’t have quite the oomph that the men’s team does. The women’s team finished last season with 73.9 win percentage and had one player named an All-American, whereas the men’s team had a slightly higher win percentage and two All-American players on the roster. For this reason, it’s being knocked down just a little bit to a slice of apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream instead of American cheese.
Men’s swimming and diving — Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard
This team performed pretty well last season — finishing second in the ACC — but it’s not as great as some of the other sports teams in the Virginia Athletics arsenal. Similarly, the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen is pretty good, but there’s no way it is the best Blizzard flavor on the menu. It would be nice to see a future where the men’s swimming and diving team was recognized, but it’s just not in the cards right now with so many other dominant Cavalier teams.
Women’s swimming and diving — Carrot cake
In the same way that carrot cake is one of the most undervalued fall treats, the Virginia women’s swim and dive team is one of Virginia’s most undervalued teams. The Cavaliers won their 16th conference title last February and they are currently ranked the best in the country — yet somehow, they’re still being overlooked for no good reason.
Men’s tennis — Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats
It’s been a few years since the Virginia men’s tennis team has been good and similarly, it’s been years since Kit Kat has released a decent autumnal variation — Pumpkin Pie being the most recent release. Men’s tennis is not the same as it was during its peak when the team took home three team national titles in a row and had Thai-Son Kwiatkowski on the roster. The team needs to do something to shake things up and likewise, Kit Kat needs somebody who actually has functioning taste buds to create new fall flavors.
Women’s tennis — Pumpkin bread
Despite the lack of fanfare that pumpkin bread and the women’s tennis team get, both are extremely enjoyable — pumpkin bread to eat, and women’s tennis to watch. With a set of young and talented student-athletes, women’s tennis looks to make an impact and climb the ranks after a solid performance last season — one that could be compared to the likes of a soft, thick slice of pumpkin bread.
Track and field — Pecan pie
Pecan pie and the track and field team both have a little bit of everything. The track and field team has a great mix of sprinters, distance runners, hurdlers, jumpers, vaulters and more — while a slice of pecan pie has the ideal mix of buttery crust, gooey filling and crunchy pecans. This winter, Virginia fans can only hope that the entire team remains composed, just as dessert connoisseurs can only hope the pecan pie is not underbaked.
Volleyball — Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is a fall staple for coffee lovers, just as the women’s volleyball season is a fall staple for sports lovers. Although the Pumpkin Spice Latte is not the most groundbreaking drink in the Starbucks fall lineup and the women’s volleyball team is not the top-performing fall sports team at U.Va., both are well-loved by all. Next season, when the Cavaliers step onto the court, let’s just hope they add a little more spice and close out the important sets.
Wrestling — Spiced cider
Like a glass of spiced cider, the wrestling team is strong and bold. The team was on a bit of a hot streak last year and the Cavaliers have a strong lineup of wrestlers going into this season. Hopefully this upcoming season, the wrestlers will pack that same punch and possibly bring home the national championship trophy for the first time in program history.
One thing all of these teams have in common — they all are Virginia. Whether the team is winning national championships or dead last in the rankings, fans will stick by them and cheer them on — just as we will relentlessly argue in favor of our favorite fall treat and flavor, even in the midst of the strongest opposition.