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UVA Sports Superlatives and Best Moments from 2023

Looking back at the best moments and individual seasons for Virginia sports in 2023.

Morgan State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Before we turn the page on 2023, let’s recognize the athletes and moments that made this yet another memorable year as UVA sports fans. Here is our second annual Streaking the Lawn Athletics Awards and Superlatives:

Men’s Athlete of the Year: Kyle Teel

Teel was the backstop of the Virginia Cavaliers baseball team that advanced to the College World Series in Omaha for the second time in three seasons. His .407 batting average was the sixth highest single season mark in Cavaliers history, and it did not dip below .400 at any point during the year. Teel’s accolades piled high: ACC Player of the Year, Johnny Bench Award (nation’s top catcher), first team All-American, among others. After finishing top 10 in UVA history in career home runs, total bases, and batting average, Teel was drafted 14th overall by the Boston Red Sox.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Malik Washington: Broke the Virginia football single season record for receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,426), earning second team All-American honors
  • Chris Rodesch: Awarded the NCAA Tournament MVP, leading the ‘Hoos to their second straight men’s tennis title

Women’s Athlete of the Year: Kate Douglass

This one was automatic for the duration of her time at the University of Virginia. Largely considered one of the greatest swimmers in NCAA history, Douglass helped UVA win their third consecutive NCAA team title, while winning seven gold medals individually in 2023. The back-to-back Honda Sports Award winner for best female college swimmer has had her impact go well beyond the NCAA level. Douglass is involved in multiple world records in medley relay events, and shared the Golden Goggle Award Female Athlete of the Year with Katie Ledecky.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Camryn Taylor: Led the resurgent UVA women's basketball team in points and rebounds last season and in the beginning of this one
  • Ashlyn McGovern: Named a first team All-American per US Lacrosse Magazine, and finished third in program history in career goals (204)

Dominant Defender: Reece Beekman

As his offensive game continues to skyrocket each year, Beekman steadily remains one of the best on-ball defenders in men’s college basketball. He won the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2022-23, and his numbers have only improved at the beginning of this basketball season. Because of Beekman’s ability to force turnovers, Tony Bennett has made adjustments to his signature Pack Line defense to create more transition opportunities.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ryan Dunn: Currently the only men’s basketball player in the top 20 nationally in steal rate and block rate
  • Cade Saustad: Caused 34 turnovers, the most by a UVA men’s lacrosse player since 2017

Newcomer of the Year: Malik Washington

The Northwestern transfer nearly won Men’s Athlete of the Year so this was a no-brainer. Washington was the lifeblood of the Virginia football offense, breaking single-season program records in receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,426). In fact, he accounted for 47.4% of UVA’s total passing yards, the most nationally. With his combination of hands, route running, and after-the-catch ability, Washington is undoubtedly a legitimate NFL Draft prospect.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kymora Johnson: As a 2022-23 McDonald’s All-American, has the most assists and second most points on the women’s basketball team this year
  • Ethan O’Donnell: Another Northwestern transfer who was a Rawlings Gold Glover and first team all-ACC honoree on the baseball side

Coach of the Year: Joanna Hardin

Thanks to the efforts of Hardin, the sleeping giant of UVA softball is starting to rise. In 2023, she guided the ‘Hoos to their first 30-win season since 2010, including victories over No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 4 Florida State. With financial investments piling into facilities and other program functions, the program is poised to continue their rise towards the top of the ACC.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brian O’Connor: Led the Cavaliers to Omaha for the second time in three seasons, finishing in the national top five in both earned run average and on base percentage
  • Todd DeSorbo: Led the Virginia women’s swim and dive team to their third consecutive national title

Alumnus of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon

Even on the plus side of age 30, Brogdon has shown that when healthy, he is one of the more effective role players in the NBA. Last season, he came off the bench for the conference finalist Boston Celtics, earning the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. This year, he has found his way back into the starting lineup for the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Trey Murphy: After averaging an efficient 14.5 points per game for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2022-23, he is off to another red hot start this season
  • Zack Gelof: Led the Oakland Athletics in WAR by almost a full win, despite playing less than half the season. Slashed .267/.337/.504.

Moment of the Year: James Jackson’s game-sealing INT to upset No. 10 North Carolina

Virginia found themselves heading into late October still without an FBS win. That was before they went into Chapel Hill and played their best game of the Tony Elliott era. In a 31-27 game, Drake Maye was driving down the field threatening to win the game with a last minute touchdown drive. Then, James Jackson secured a tipped pass just before it hit the ground to stun the tenth ranked Tar Heels in the South’s Oldest Rivalry. As Elliott pointed out after the game, it gave the UVA football community something to celebrate for the first time since the tragic events last November.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Chris Baker walks-off Florida State: The graduate walk-on becomes an unlikely hero in a lineup full of stars, helping the eighth-ranked ‘Hoos survive in the tenth inning
  • Mike Hollins’ first spring game touchdown: Just months after surviving a gunshot, which required multiple surgeries and weeks spent in the hospital, the Virginia running back plows into the end zone, providing an emotional moment at Scott Stadium

Highlight Reel Play of the Year: Ryan Dunn’s posterizing slam against Texas Southern

Dunn is simply a walking highlight reel, which is why he earns this honor for the second year in a row. Was it a charge? Maybe. But the dunk was way too cool to waive off; the ref passes the vibe check.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jake Gelof breaks UVA’s single-season home run record: The UVA baseball phenom strikes a 440-foot bomb in the NCAA super regionals against rival Duke
  • Crazy two-point conversion ties game vs NC State: Anthony Colandrea scrambles and throws a prayer that Malachi Fields hauls in even the score at 21 in the final minute

Video Game Box Score: Nick Parker’s seven strong innings vs ECU

Ok, maybe this doesn’t apply as a “video game” stat line but what Parker did in the NCAA baseball regionals needs recognition. With such little margin for error, Parker gutted out seven innings of one-run ball against his former team, allowing UVA to eventually take a 2-1 lead for good.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kymora Johnson vs Fordham: 26 points, seven assists, and five rebounds on 6-for-7 three-point shooting
  • Malik Washington going for 100+ receiving yards in 10 out of 12 regular season games