Brandi Chastain Discusses Importance of Capital One Cup

For a long time collegiate athletics was limited to celebrating the successes of individual sports teams, like Indiana University Men’s Soccer or University of Alabama Football, for their on field accomplishments. In 2010 that all changed when the Capital One Cup entered the scene, and added yet another competitive element to collegiate sports. Athletes now not only competed with their teams in their respective sports, but also as one unified university or college team in the race to be crowned the champion of the Capital One Cup.

Here’s “How It Works” according to the competition’s official site:

The Capital One Cup is awarded annually to each of the best men’s and women’s Division I college athletics programs in the country. Points toward the Capital One Cup are earned and tracked throughout the year based on final standings of NCAA Championships and final official coaches’ polls. One winning men’s and one winning women’s program will be crowned after the completion of the final NCAA spring championships. Capital One will award a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and the Capital One Cup trophy to the winning schools at the ESPY awards in July.

One of the things that makes the program so successful, as with many organizations, is the people who are involved. The Capital One Cup have a Board of Advisors who are all former collegiate athletes or college sports broadcasters who “embody everything the Capital One Cup represents”.  One of those advisors is former U.S. Women’s National Team star defender Brandi Chastain. Last week Business of Soccer had the chance to speak with Chastain about what the job entailed, and what the Capital One Cup is doing for collegiate athletics.

Brandi Chastain, Captial One Cup Advisor. Photo courtesy of Capital One Cup.

Brandi Chastain, Captial One Cup Advisor. Photo courtesy of Capital One Cup.

My role is basically as an ambassador for the female collegiate student athlete and to share the experience of going to a national championship weekend, and how important it is for the student athlete to be balanced. The Capital One Cup is such a great award because it not only recognizes what happens on the field, but it also encourages academics by the 400,000 in scholarships that it gives to the winners.

Chastain commented that the Capital One Cup added an instilled an extra level of competitiveness in the athletes to come together as a school, not just in their own teams.

I think there is a great deal of pride that goes along with representing not only your sport, but your whole university. I think all the athletes out there want to say that they won the Capital One Cup. I think it is another thing that the athletes can strive for but I think what makes it special is that it is a collective award, so the whole university, not one team, is getting recognition.

One element to the Capital One Cup that Chastain was particularly proud of was that it separated out Women’s and Men’s athletics into two different competitions, putting the Women’s programs on the same level as the Men’s.

Female athletics do not dominate the headlines at ESPN or the highlights that often. This [the Capital One Cup] is a chance for them to be highlighted in a way that they do not usually get recognized.

Chastain recalled that there were many exciting and nail-biting moments throughout the course of the competition, with multiple schools battling for the top spot on both the men’s and women’s side of the Cup, but there were a few in particular that stood out for her:

UCLA’s Men’s baseball team comes in and wins the championship and that put them over the top. It was a very close race, which is a good thing.

On the Women’s side, the fact that Women’s soccer put UNC over the top of Stanford, who won the title the last two years. Again, a very close race, it is very exciting there is no repeat champion this year, and I think that speaks volumes about what the student athletes are doing. And I think that their [UNC] Women’s lacrosse team won its first national championship and that is always exciting.

The winners of the 2013 Capital One Cup, UCLA (Men) and UNC (Women) were honored for their on field accomplishments at the ESPY Awards last week in Los Angeles.


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