Share the love: appreciating other sports during football season

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Credit: Fighting Irish Media

WKU middle hitter Lauren Matthews (5) celebrates with her teammates during WKU’s victory over Notre Dame on Aug. 27, 2021. Matthews reached the 1,000 kills milestone during the match.

Jake Moore, Sports Editor

Football returns to the Hill this week. The college football machine is waking up from its summer slumber and the month of September will usher in wall-to-wall football coverage everywhere you look. 

WKU will ring in the 2021 season with a visit from UT Martin and the Hilltoppers will be looking to drop fifty-plus points on the tiny FCS school in front of a sea of red and white.

There’s a reason football gets so much attention – it’s the money maker. For most schools, it’s the only sports program that generates anything close to a profit. Some of the most heated rivalries are fought on the gridiron, and fans want to see that.

I’m excited to see what WKU puts on the field this year too, don’t get me wrong. The Hilltoppers have brought in their most hyped QB in years to go along with an offensive coordinator straight from the Kliff Kingsbury coaching tree. 

The ingredients for a great season are all present. The Hilltoppers have a tasty non-conference slate that includes Indiana, Michigan State and Army, the defense has no shortage of veterans and Houchens-Smith Stadium will be at full capacity once more.

I just want to make the case that there are other programs besides football that would love your support this season, and they have spent the last decade proving they deserve it. Their crowds may be smaller, but their trophy cabinets are larger.

Jason Neidell’s soccer program has jumped out to a 3-0 start to the season and the Lady Toppers have already knocked off a power-five program in Vanderbilt. They’ve accomplished all this without the help of senior midfielder Ambere Barnett, who is working her way back from an ACL injury.

Travis Hudson’s volleyball program is coming off of a Sweet Sixteen appearance and is off to a 3-0 start as well. WKU swept a ranked Notre Dame squad in its own arena and it wasn’t even close. The team is now ranked as the 15th-best team in the nation; the football program has breached the top 25 just once.

Amy Tudor’s softball program won its second C-USA championship back in May and her team went 12 innings against ACC Champion Duke in the NCAA Tournament. The team has the electric speed of TJ Webster, the powerful bat of Taylor Sanders and the fireballing arm of Katie Gardner at its disposal and fans will get to see Tudor’s squad play this fall in a series of exhibitions.

Football gets the bulk of the average student’s attention, and there are reasons for that.

But if you want to watch NCAA Tournament-caliber teams year-in and year-out, sidle on over to the Soccer Complex to watch Lyric Schmidt confuse defenders up and down the pitch. Pay a visit to the Softball Complex to watch Shelby Nunn twirl a gem. Take the afternoon off to watch Lauren Matthews notch back-to-back kills in a rowdy Diddle Arena.

Football season may be here, but don’t forget there are other programs that warrant your attention.

Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.