Women’s sports are becoming more dominant on the college level. With women like Elizabeth Tucker, Alexa Baltes and Marisa Bast dominating their respective sports and killing it in the classroom, more young women are choosing to pursue sports in college. If you’re looking for a good program for women’s sports, we’ve put together a list of the ten top universities for women’s sports.
Duke, Durham, NC.
Duke is a private research university, and their women’s basketball program is top notch. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie has a seven year record of 202-42. In 2013 they had a 28-7 record. The women’s basketball program at Duke was established in 1975, and the team has gone to the NCAA finals 21 times since then, the last time in 2014. The program is ranked number 9 by AP and number 13 by USA Today. More than twenty Duke players have moved on to the WNBA since 1997. Other women’s programs at Duke include soccer, rowing, and golf. Duke has a colorful history, starting in 1938 as a subscription (private) school called Brown’s Schoolhouse. The school was originally started by Methodists and Quakers in Trinity, NC. The school opened its’ doors to women in 1900, when a leading contributor, Washington Duke, tied that stipulation to his donations. The school, called Trinity at the time, was renamed in 1924 to honor the generosity of Washington Duke and his son, James B. Duke. Academically, the Duke program host international students, and has produced 43 Rhodes scholars. While the university has a long, ongoing relationship with the United Methodist Church, they are a nonsectarian school.
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
UCLA has a really well-rounded athletic program. Established in 1882, UCLA consistently places high ranking teams in NCAA finals. Their women’s water polo and tennis teams both ranked second in NCAA finals in 2014, and women’s soccer, softball, and volleyball all had top ten finishes. Historically, UCLA has 112 NCAA team championships, more than any other university. It pretty much doesn’t matter what you play; UCLA should be on your list of schools if you play any women’s sport. UCLA graduated 134 student athletes in 2015. Notable UCLA graduates include Nikki Blue (basketball), Denise Curry (basketball), and Lauren Barnes (soccer). It’s a public school with 337 graduate and undergrad programs, and it’s one of the most beautiful settings of any academic institution in the country. In 2014, UCLA had 85,000 applicants; just 16,000 were admitted. UCLA ranks second among public schools in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges report, with the best departments being Clinical Psychology, Psychology, and Fine Arts.
Penn State, University Park, PA.
If Volleyball is your sport, then Penn State needs to be on your list of schools. The Penn State volleyball program has been National Champions six times; 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013. They took their first Big Ten title in 1992, the first of sixteen conference wins. In the fall of 2005, Penn State’s athletic teams took home five Big Ten conference titles in thirty days. Want sports? Penn State’s got it covered for you. Penn State is the largest in the state, with a total enrollment of 95,000 in 2014. In recent years, the university has stumbled a bit when it was the center of the child sex abuse cases perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky. However, Penn State has responded by changing policies and instituting reforms to protect children who participate in activities on campus. Penn State was founded in 1855, and is a public institution. U.S. News and World Report ranks Penn State at number 48 in its’ report of America’s Best Colleges. Penn State ranks second in the nation for research expenditures, and its top programs include psychology, mechanical engineering, and aerospace engineering. Notable graduates include Kim Jones, Clubhouse Reporter for the New York Yankees, Lisa Salters, ESPN, and Helen Darling, WNBA Guard for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
The University of Arizona Wildcats softball team has made quite a name for themselves, going to NCAA level of play seven times in the last ten years, and pulling conference finishes in the three years they weren’t playing at the NCAA level. Arizona’s softball legacy began in 1991, when the team dominated the playoffs. Head Coach Mike Candrea coached the 2004 United States Olympic Softball team. They won the gold medal in a 5-1 win over Australia in the final game. More than ten years later, Coach Candrea is still a dominating coach. His status as the former Olympic Softball team coach has helped to build Arizona’s program by drawing in dominant players who want to learn from him. Players Jennie Finch, Lovie Jung, Caitlin Lowe, and Leah O’Brien-Amico have all gone on to play softball at the Olympic level while playing under Coach Candrea. The University of Arizona was chartered in 1885 and is a public flagship research institution. They play in the Pacific-12 Conference and wear the colors of Cardinal Red and Navy Blue. The University offers 334 fields of study and has an enrollment of 42,000.
University of Arizona
University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
Home to one of the best gymnastics programs in the country, the University of Georgia has a strong all-around athletic program. Georgia’s coach Danna Durante was recently named on CollegeAD.com’s list of the Top Ten Gymnastics Head Coaches in the nation, after taking her team to a national finish for the last three years. Coach Durante’s coaching style is heavy on personal responsibility and choice, always encouraging her gymnasts to plan their goals for next season-even with just a few days break after a huge national competition. Georgia’s gymnastics program’s improvement is a recent thing; Coach Durante’s first season brought wins and titles that the program hadn’t seen since 2009. This is definitely the time to be a part of Georgia’s gymnastics team. The academic program is demanding, too, but Georgia’s gymnasts continue to rise to the challenge; during Coach Durante’s first year, twelve team members earned SEC Academic Honor Roll honors and three earned post-graduate scholarships. If you’re looking for a challenging program, Georgia should be at the top of your list.
University of Georgia
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
For women’s track and field, there is no better choice than Texas A&M. The women’s track and field program rates fourth in the nation under coach Pat Henry. In the 2015 finals, the Aggies placed thirty athletes combined, with 15 for the Aggie women alone. Ten of those fifteen were top seeded. Since 2007, the Aggie women have won titles at the Conference level or above, outperforming the Aggie men. Coach Pat Henry has been with the program since 2005; prior to coaching the Aggies, he was the coach at Louisiana State University, where he won 27 National Championships. Texas A&M is the oldest school in Texas, founded as the Agricultural and Mechanical college in 1876. Texas A&M did not desegregate or become co-ed until the 1960’s, which may lag behind the rest of the nation but is par for the course for Texas. Texas A&M is a public university, with an enrollment of 58,000 in 2014. At 5200 acres, the campus is one of the largest in the country. It’s the home to the George Bush Presidential Library and 1000 officially recognized student organizations.
University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI.
The University of Hawaii boasts a powerhouse volleyball organization. Last season, their overall record was 22-7, with 156 Aces on the season. The volleyball program was established in 1974, and has an all time record of 1,137-190-1. Head coach Dave Shoji has led the team for 40 years, including 19 straight conference finishes. Seventeen players for Hawaii have either trained or played with the US National Team, and three went to the Beijing Olympics. The University of Hawaii was established in 1907, with a focus on agriculture and mechanics. It’s a public university with an enrollment of 58,000. As the only Division I school in the state, Hawaii enjoys record-breaking attendance at many games, with one season bringing 184,000 fans to watch home games.
University of Hawaii
Baylor University, Waco, TX.
Baylor’s women’s basketball program is unmatched. Four Baylor players were invited to the USA Basketball tryout. Baylor’s teams consistently finish at the Conference level or above. Baylor’s overall team stats show their 2015 record to be 33-4. Head coach Kim Mulkey has been with the program for 14 seasons, and is the second most-winningest active Division I head coach. She’s a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, and in 2012, won Coach of the Year from WBCA, USBWA, Associated Press, Naismith, and the Big 12 Conference. Baylor is a private Baptist university in Waco,Texas. It was established in 1845, and is noted for its law, medicine, and music programs.
University of Denver, Denver, CO.
The University of Denver is not only one of the best schools in the state, it’s got amazing sports programs. Their women’s soccer program was 10-8-2 in 2014, and their coach has been with the program since 1992. DU was third seed going into last year’s bracket for the playoffs, but lost in a penalty kick standoff to San Diego State University.
University of Denver
As you can see, there is no shortage of programs available for women’s sports. However, the best programs are competitive, and drive their players to be better at their game. Women wanting to excel in their sport will need to stand out among their peers as they complete their high school seasons, and work hard to attract the notice of recruiters. Let this list guide you when you are trying to determine the best university for you.