Celebrating 50 Years

50 Years of Carolina Women's Athletics graphic

Carolina Athletics was in a very similar state to the present day when Dean Smith provided a quote that has come to define Tar Heel women’s sports.

With both the basketball and football programs being ranked No. 1 in 1997, Smith was asked about the tiresome basketball school vs. football school debate. Could there be room on the Carolina campus, Football News magazine asked, for two national powerhouse programs?

Smith’s answer has become legendary: “This is a women’s soccer school. We’re just trying to keep up with them.”

As the Tar Heels celebrate 50 years of women’s sports at Carolina, those words still resonate.

Since Smith’s comments in the summer of 1997, Carolina women’s sports have won 15 NCAA championships, while men’s teams have won six. Include the success of the women’s tennis squad in the ITA National Indoor championships (the Tar Heels have won the event five times), and Tar Heel women’s teams have almost one national title per year in the last 24 years.

From year one to year 50 of intercollegiate women’s sports in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels have been winners. Those consistent victories have helped set a standard for the entire athletic department. That’s why Carolina has won 55 national championships—including 39 from women’s teams.

Fifty years after those first seven teams went varsity, Carolina is a place where greatness in women’s sports is encouraged, expected and celebrated.

It might even be time to update Smith’s quote. Carolina, indeed, is a women’s sports school.

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