On Sunday, as the UNC women’s lacrosse team stormed Homewood Field to hoist a national championship trophy in the air, head coach Jenny Levy took a second to soak it all in.
In just 10 years, Levy has been front row to this spectacle three separate times. In 2013, 2016, and now 2022, she’s led her program to the mountaintop and come out victorious in the final game of the season. The blue and white confetti, Powerade showers and commemorative T-shirts are nothing new to her.
It’s not a shock to UNC fans either, a group that’s become accustomed to this level of athletic excellence after cheering on 57 national championship teams over the years.
However, Levy’s third NCAA Championship, which was won 50 years after Title IX became law, symbolizes much more than just an outstanding 2022 season.
It was a win for that rag-tag team of recruits, transfers, club players and multi-sport athletes who first climbed their way to the Final Four in the team’s second and third years of existence. It’s a testament to the skill of Levy, the former All-American player who had only coached for a year before she was tasked with starting up the UNC women’s lacrosse program back in 1994. It's a breath of fresh air for the Hall of Fame coach finally able to gift one of her most talented rosters a moment they'll never forget.
It was a win for the scores of little girls at home watching the game — the first NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship to be aired on ESPN — who witnessed the stars of the sport playing at the highest level. Sunday’s title game marked a day where young women were astounded by the aggression of NCAA all-time leading scorer Charlotte North, and marveled at the poise of ACC Attacker of the Year Jamie Ortega. The championship game was a spectacle headlined by All-Americans Ally Mastroianni and Emma Trenchard, who alongside North and Ortega will train on an all-star national team this summer under USA Lacrosse head coach Levy.
It was a win on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field, a location synonymous with a rich lacrosse history traditionally centered in the Northeast. Thanks to Levy, it’s a stage that girls from the South may dream to play on one day. Though oftentimes not encouraged to participate in sports from an early age, Levy handed countless young girls a stick and a new opportunity through field days with the Carolina Kids Club. At the high school level, she’s been outspoken about the NCHSAA’s scheduling of girl’s soccer and lacrosse in the same season, hoping to provide an opening for future athletes like Julia Dorsey who excel in both sports. The premier North Carolina women’s lacrosse club program that Levy established in 2005, Carolina Fever, has provided countless young phenoms the chance to display their talents at the national level.
While this year's championship game will be commemorated for the culmination of a perfect season and a redemption run for the UNC’s lacrosse team, the legacy of its coach may be the most fitting way to remember this moment.
On Sunday, an all-time women’s coach reached the pinnacle of her sport for the third time with a women’s program she built from scratch. Thanks to Levy, UNC will celebrate 50 years of women’s athletics with a 41st national championship trophy placed in its case by a women’s team. And thanks to Levy’s inspiration of a future generation of female athletes, it surely won’t be the last.