Building a program takes time

USC has been home to national champions in almost every sport. The football team is a consistent winner and one of the most successful programs in the history of the sport. Baseball had its glory days under coach Rod Dedeaux.

There have been multiple Olympians coming from championship track and field teams. The Women of Troy basketball team won two titles consecutively in the 1980s.

Brand new · Though 2012 is the first season women’s sand volleyball is an NCAA sport, it is unfair to expect too much of a young program. - Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The school recently added its newest varsity sport, women’s sand volleyball. Though it is easy to assume the team will be championship caliber right off the bat, it would be a disservice to put that sort of expectation on the Women of Troy.

Those championship teams named above? They weren’t always that great. No matter what the sport, a program takes time to develop.

The football team, which was started in 1888, played only two games in its inaugural campaign. The first year they played a full 10-game schedule was in 1905, and the team went 6-3-1. Solid, but hardly spectacular. In fact, USC football did not experience its first 10-win season until 1921, 33 seasons after the program was founded. The Trojans’ first national title came in 1928. It took 40 years for USC to win its first national championship. Not exactly a quick rise, honestly.

The baseball team, which has won 12 national titles, did not start keeping win-loss records until 1921, in which they finished 8-2. In 1923, the team finished 6-10. The Trojans won their first national title in 1948, a season in which they went 26-4. It took 27 seasons for the team to reach the top of the college baseball world, a surprisingly long time considering the success the Trojans have had since.

The Women of Troy basketball team was established in 1976. Led by Cheryl Miller, it won its first title in 1983 and another in 1984. Despite its quick rise to the top, the team has not won a title since 1984, showing how difficult it can be to not only start a program, but to sustain excellence over the years.

The USC women’s soccer team, which won the national title in 2007, hardly had a great start. In its first season in 1993, the squad went 2-15-2. Though the team is consistently a contender on the national level, it was not always so.

The men’s tennis team was established in 1924 and won its first title in 1946, and has not looked back since. But it took more than two decades to get started.

Perhaps the exceptions to the rule is the women’s water polo team. The team should, however, serve as the exception, not the rule. The women’s water polo team was started in 1995 and captured its first championship four seasons later in 1999.

USC has 114 national championships in men’s and women’s sports and is well on its way to more. The point, however, is not how many they have won, but rather how long it generally takes to win. It does not happen overnight; it often takes decades.

Though it is certainly easier now, given intense recruiting and great facilities on campus to attract prospects, it is unrealistic the women’s sand volleyball team will contend nationally right away.

Yes, this is the inaugural season for the sport around the entire NCAA. Every school, for all intents and purposes, is starting fresh. Somebody has to win the national championship; and that someone will have been playing for just as long as the other teams. Why not USC?

It is certainly possible. USC knows how to win. That cannot be overstated. But given the general process of building a national powerhouse in college sports, it is unreasonable to expect immediate national success and a national championship right off the bat.

Instead, it is realistic to do what all the other programs have done on campus: build and wait.

The best programs here took time to develop. There shouldn’t be any doubt that the program will be incredibly successful in the coming years, just don’t expect a perfect record in 2012.

Good things come to those who wait. Just ask the 114 championship teams that have banners and trophies displayed in Heritage Hall.


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1 reply
  1. Jon
    Jon says:

    Have other schools previously fielded sand volleyball squads (even at the club level)? If not, isn’t everyone starting at square one?

    I thought this was the inaugural season for NCAA sand volleyball. USC should be as ready as anyone else to contend nationally (particularly with the participation of players from the elite indoor team).

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