Ranking the top 10 women's sports stories of 2010
It's that time of year again.
Let's recap the top 10 women's sports stories of 2010.
Best wishes for 2011!
10. Tournaments and trades:
Some of the most interesting local hoops stories happened last spring. Within a span of a few weeks, the Northwestern women's basketball team ended years of futility while the Chicago Sky ended its relationship with its first draft pick in franchise history.
The Wildcats earned a berth in the WNIT, marking their first postseason appearance in 13 years. They went on to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Meanwhile, the Sky parted ways with forward Candice Dupree as part of a blockbuster WNBA trade that grabbed headlines.
The Phoenix Mercury sent Cappie Pondexter to the New York Liberty, the Sky sent Dupree to Phoenix and got Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld in return from New York.
9. Seeing red:
In December, soccer fans in Chicago got some bad news. The Red Stars suspended operations for the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer season because of a lack of capital and investors. Team officials explained that they are hoping the hiatus is temporary and that the Red Stars will be back in action in 2012.
The 2010 season wasn't a particularly memorable one for the Chicago Sky. For the fifth straight year, the franchise failed to nab its first playoff berth. However, there were a couple of other interesting developments.
In July, center Sylvia Fowles was named the most valuable player of the WNBA All-Star Game. She went on to be named first-team all-WNBA.
And in October, the Sky announced that former LSU coach Pokey Chatman had be chosen as its new head coach. Chatman took LSU to multiple NCAA Final Fours and is now coaching a Russian women's basketball team that is one of the most successful in the Euroleague.
7. Griner is good:
In January, 6-foot-8 Baylor center Brittney Griner wowed us with her athletic dunking. Real dunking.
She became just the second player in the history of the women's game to throw down two dunks in an NCAA game. Only a freshman at the time, Griner was already being compared to the best women's basketball players of all time.
Her luster took a bit of a hit in March when she punched a player from Texas Tech in the face. She served out her suspension and picked up right where she left off when she came back.
The third one was a charm. And so was the fourth and the fifth.
But No. 6 didn't turn out so great for the Northwestern lacrosse team.
In May, Maryland upended Northwestern in the NCAA championship game 13-11, stopping the Wildcats' streak of consecutive national championships at five. Still, what an awesome run. Hats off to the 'Cats.
5. Farewell to Finch:
In August, Chicago Bandits softball star Jennie Finch bid adieu to the game she loves.
Only 29, she said she could still play at a high level but that she was ready to add to her family with husband Casey Daigle, a pitcher for the Houston Astros. The couple already has a son, Ace. Finch's whirlwind career included an NCAA national championship, an Olympic gold medal, a professional title and many personal records along the way.
Finch still plans to be involved with the Bandits as they look to up their profile in 2011 by playing in a new stadium in Rosemont.
4. Bowlin' with the boys:
Bowler Kelly Kulick grabbed national headlines in January when she became the first woman to earn a PBA tournament title by winning the tour's signature event of the season, the Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.
She ousted former PBA player of the year Chris Barnes 265-195 in the championship match to win the $40,000 first prize and a two-year PBA Tour exemption.
"I played my 'A' game the entire tournament. I didn't have to manufacture any shots or change anything," said Kulick, a New Jersey native who bowled for the first time at age 6 and started winning junior tournaments shortly thereafter.
3. Out on top:
It wasn't an earthquake that sent shockwaves throughout Mexico in April. It was Lorena Ochoa's announcement that she was retiring from golf at 28.
Ochoa, who hails from Mexico, was the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world at the time and had sat atop the LPGA rankings for the previous three years. But she said she was ready to give it all up to start a family with her husband.
2. Volleyball victors:
The Penn State volleyball team knows perfection. In 2008 and 2009, the Lady Lions won back-to-back NCAA national championships to close out undefeated seasons.
The 2010 season wasn't as neat and tidy. At times, the Lady Lions struggled and even lost a few games in the Big Ten. They also saw their 109-game winning streak end in September.
But by November, Penn State was sitting in a familiar spot.
For the fourth year in a row, the Lady Lions won the NCAA national championship. They swept California in three sets in the title game.
Yes, the streak is over.
But what a ride it was.
The Connecticut basketball team won 90 games in a row, including the NCAA title game in April, before Stanford put an end to the streak Thursday with a dramatic win over the top-ranked Huskies in Palo Alto, Calif. Connecticut's streak will be tough to match. The Huskies climbed to the top by surpassing a nearly 40-year-old record set by the UCLA men's basketball team. The Bruins had won 88 straight in the early 1970s.
By the way, Stanford's win over Connecticut might just mean that DePaul is the best team in women's basketball. The Blue Demons destroyed Stanford by 20 points in a game in Lincoln Park in December.