Cavalier Corner

February 2017

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Page 24 of 31

Unique tradition prepares team for success T he ACC boasted four of the top 10 teams in the country going into the 2016 season, so it goes without saying that to compete in the ACC is to compete against the best. Steve Swanson and Virginia Women's Soccer have risen to this challenge year aer year, heading to the College Cup two out of the last four seasons. Virginia's success is due in part to a unique preseason tradition. For the better part of two decades, Virginia Women's Soccer has started its presea- son training with a trip to Glen Arbor, Michigan. Offering a break from the August heat in Virginia, providing an opportunity for the team to bond and allowing the opportunity to play pre- season friendlies against teams like Michigan State or Michigan, this annual pilgrimage to the Midwest has become both a tactical and cultural mainstay of the program. In 2013, the ACC expanded, adding Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pitt. In 2014 Louisville joined the slate. As the conference footprint expanded so did the expense of traveling to play away matches. With pressure on his budget, Swanson and his coaching staff faced the difficult possibility of eliminating their indispensable preseason Michigan trip. Aer discussion with the athletics department's administration, it was agreed to approach some loyal Virginia Women's Soc- cer fans about the possibility of supporting the trip through a special fundraising initiative called Coaches 10. Successful in a select number of programs, these limited-scope funds have been used for a specific sport need that cannot be funded by the current op- erating budget of the department. A Women's Soccer Coaches 10 Fund was established and with the help of a few dedicated women's soccer fans the team has been able to continue its year- ly journey to the Midwest. Our preseason training trip to Michigan is really important to our success as a program. I really love how close our team grows off the field. I cannot thank VAF donors enough for their generous support of our program." - Alexis Shaffer 2017 VAF GUIDE TO GIVING / 25 "

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