NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The rise of the SFA Ladyjacks' recent success has come at relatively the same time as the men's, but may have been overshadowed by the men's historic seasons.
What many may not know is the women entered this season as the fifth winningest D1 women's college basketball program in the nation and it looks they are starting to pick right back up again, where history left off
The SFA women's basketball team has quite the history of success.
It's where tradition meets excellence and it's history you can see and touch
"When you go back through history there were very few programs that were investing in college women's basketball and SFA was a pioneer in that process," said Ladyjacks Head Coach Brandon Schneider. "So we do have a great tradition here and heritage."
It was a program founded in 1972. The men were founded to 1925, and as the women's program has a life span almost five decades shorter than the men, they've made it to the NCAA's 18 times to the men's two.
"We wanted to highlight the traditions of the program and as our players walk through the doors and down the halls we want them to understand they're here to live up to high expectations and at the same time we wanted them to strive to get on that wall," Schneider said.
Banner after banner exhibits the founders who paved the way for today's generation. And while they are women, current Ladyjacks have never met and may never meet, all of these Ladyjacks have one thing in common. They've walked the same halls, chasing the same dream for more than 40 years.
"When we're here it's our time to help build on the SFA legacy that's already been established for us," said senior Tierany Henderson.
With back-to-back titles, we're starting to see a glimpse of what had been established in a ruling 90s period where they made the NCAA tournament every year, winning the Southland Conference tournament nine out of the 10 years.
The last trip to the Big Dance was in 2006, and while all the hype was around the men's appearance in the NCAA's last year, people still recalled times, when it was the women putting the smallest town in Texas on the map.
"I can remember back whenever you would go watch the Ladyjacks play and whenever the Ladyjacks finished you'd get up and leave," said Douglas Durban, an SFA fan. "You wouldn't even watch the Lumberjacks."
The Ladyjacks admit the men's recent success has motivated them to dream bigger too.
"We both want the same things, we both want to be on top," said senior Brittney Matthew.
"I want to make sure next year we're in the same boat, we're getting the same recognition so to my it's pushing us to want to be in the same lime light that they were," Henderson said.
The Ladyjacks will play their semi-final game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Their opponent will be determined on Friday.