Jerica Coley: the overlooked superstar

Jerica Coley is breaking records left and right, but doing so in a nearly empty arena.

It isn’t a shock that some of the nation’s top athletes choose to attend schools other than FIU, but when one of the top scorers in women’s basketball stays true to her commitment, you would think there would be more buzz on campus.

But there isn’t.

FIU is home to the nation’s second ranked scorer and leader in Conference USA in senior Jerica Coley, but according to the FIU Athletics website, women’s basketball home games only average 373 people per game.

It’s no surprise that Miami is not a sports town. As much as people want to believe it is, people would rather spend three hours out by the pool or beach with a drink in one hand and their phone in the other.

The Miami Heat may have people believing that this is a sports, rather, basketball city, but it isn’t. People are attracted to winning and want to be able to one day look back at their past and say they were a part of history.

Yet no one seems to grasp that history is being made out on Lime Court.

Now I’ll admit, I am not a big fan of women’s basketball but when you have a player who leads in almost every statistical category available, why not pay her a visit at work?

Coley does everything for her team and school both on and off the court, besides sell food at halftime. Coley is also majoring in nutrition, not an easy task.

Most recently, Coley dropped a mere 47 points against Wake Forest, the second-highest scoring night in C-USA history, the most points by any FIU player (men’s or women’s) at home and was named C-USA’s player of the week. She accounts for over 40 percent of her teams offense, leads or is in the top two of every school record, yet the team is only 5-7.

Now just to add to the rarity of having a player such as Coley representing a team, prior to the start of their inaugural season in C-USA, Coley was named the Sun Belt Conference Female Athlete of the Year and only the second student-athlete from FIU to earn such honor.

She was also named the Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year.

Coley can fill a wall from top to bottom with the awards she has earned during her time at FIU, but has yet to earn the grand prize in a National or even Conference Championship.

Granted, the team is missing arguably their second best player in senior Marita Davydova, the Panthers haven’t seemed to have done due diligence for both Coley and Head Coach Cindy Russo, whose been with the program before many of you reading this were even born.

Last season, the Panthers finished 19-13 with both Coley and Davydova playing all 32 games. It’s too early to tell how much of an impact the loss of Davydova will be, but it may also force Coley to continue to post 40-point games and possibly add more awards to an already stacked resume.

Davydova isn’t expected to return this season after eligibility concerns arose prior to the start of the season.

With that being said, one would think it would give fans more of a reason to support a team, or shall I say a single player who will show people outside of Miami who and what FIU is all about.

For us who grew up or simply live in Miami, it may be hard to miss FIU. But believe it or not, once you reach the state line, FIU just brings a puzzled look to the faces of others.

FIU has not reached the national level of UM or FSU. Maybe with the success of Coley and having two possible pro bowlers in the NFL it could be, but I’m not holding my breath on it.

For a team struggling to make a dent in the conference, Coley has hit numbers that even LeBron James would be impressed with. Yet with even all the success she’s had and the “Holy Coley” era sweeping through campus, the support has been non-existent.

There are no numbers to truly back it up, but I’m confident enough to say that FIU is one of the top schools in the country where students wear apparel for other institutions other than the school they pay good money to attend.

Unfortunately, the image of not being a sports town will forever be tied to Miami.

When the world witnesses fans leaving early from an crucial NBA Finals game, only to storm back banging at the doors at the American Airlines Arena and become the butt of everyone’s joke, it’s going to take more than season tickets to get rid of that stain.

I’d like to think that the city has spectators more than it does fans, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve never been but I’m sure there’s more to do on South Beach then there is in Alabama or Kentucky.

Miami will forever be a party and drinks on the beach kind of city. But maybe, just maybe, times will change and the Magic City will become more than just a clubbing and sun tanning on the beach type city. But even if that does happen, it will probably be too late to embrace the greatness that is Jerica Coley.

 

About the Author

Patrick Chalvire
: Radio Host for Panther Sports Talk Live. Assistant Sports Director for The Beacon. Majoring in Communication Arts. Sports fan and aspiring anchor.

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