Game Day Vibes - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Game Day Vibes

Game Day Vibes

Familiar colors, favorite fight songs and the taste of victory: Few things unite communities like the pride and spirit for local college teams. In Greater Tampa Bay, this sentiment holds particularly true. Varying across divisions and sports, collegiate athletics has a faithful following in GTB. 

University of South Florida 

The Bulls of the University of South Florida are instantly recognizable. The green and gold horned logo proudly represents nearly 60 years of Division I athletics in Tampa. Other traditions, such as the Herd of Thunder marching band and ceremonial USF Mace, are widely and warmly regarded by decades of alumni.  

As members of the American Athletic Conference, the South Florida Bulls compete in 17 different sports and have amassed 159 conference championships. The Bulls have earned 19 individual NCAA National Championship titles in various sports and one team national championship with women’s swimming in 1985. The athletics department is growing this year, as the Bulls plan to add women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport for 2023-24. 

The influence of this sports program is not just limited to the local region. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games alone, six former USF student-athletes competed on the world stage, and USF’s softball coach led the U.S. Olympic Women’s Softball Team to win silver. The Bulls have sent a total of 16 athletes to the Olympics, bringing home one gold medal in its illustrious history. 

Bulls fans take pride in their teams and come out strong against their biggest rivals, the University of Central Florida Knights and the University of Tampa Spartans. The War on I-4, as the USF-UCF rivalry has come to be known, wages across all sports, with the annual winners awarded a special trophy in commemoration of this friendly rivalry. With a satellite campus in St. Petersburg as well, USF fans are spread throughout GTB. 

University of Tampa 

The University of Tampa Spartans fly the black, red and gold from their campus in downtown Tampa. Competing in the Sunshine State Conference since 1981, UT athletics have won 19 national titles in Division II of the NCAA.  

Spartan baseball has been a decorated program for more than 60 years. They have featured notable alumni such as Tino Martinez, who played for 16 years in Major League Baseball, and Lou Piniella, a multiple World Series-winning MLB player and former Rays manager.  

The private university’s 22 teams give fans much to root for, especially against their biggest rivals, the Florida Southern College Moccasins, and the USF Bulls in the annual Rowdies Cup.  

Pasco-Hernando State College 

Pasco-Hernando State College is the proud home of the mighty Bobcats. Seven collegiate sports programs flourish here, with men’s cross country joining the roster in the fall of 2022.  

Based in New Port Richey, PHSC athletics competes in the Suncoast Conference, against notable rivals like the Hillsborough Community College Hawks and the Polk State College Eagles.  

A school of champions, PHSC athletes have a number of conference championships to call their own. Men’s baseball took home the Suncoast Conference title in 1995 and made a second appearance in 1997. In 2010, this Bobcats program officially moved to a Division II status. The women’s softball program has also seen its share of success. With 10 postseason berths since 1994, the Bobcats are a softball powerhouse in the Suncoast.  

Among five campuses spread across two counties in GTB, Bobcat pride has a far reach. Successful academics and winning athletics leave little to be desired. With this track record of achievement, great things should be expected of the new cross-country team. 

Saint Leo University, Eckerd College, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College 

Also representing Division II sports are the St. Leo University Lions, who have racked up four national championships since 2016, and the Eckerd College Tritons, whose teal, navy and black standard competes in the Sunshine State Conference. The Hillsborough Community College Hawks and Lady Hawks also represent the NJCAA in a variety of sports. 

St. Petersburg rightfully earns its place in the local college sports action. St. Petersburg College is home to the Titans, a mascot whose golden helmet can be seen on many different athletic uniforms. With baseball, softball, tennis and volleyball teams, fans have no shortage of outlets for their school spirit. 

Transplants, of course, are always welcome. University of Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles and University of Miami Hurricanes all have alumni who call GTB home, presenting friendly rivalries and collegiate pride. Whether a former athlete, coach, student or just a fan of the game, watching those favorite colors perform will always be an undeniable joy. 

We are the Champions

University of South Florida 

See Also

  • 14 total NCAA National Championships 
  • One team national championship (women’s swimming 1985) 
  • 13 individual titles 
  • 139 conference titles 
  • Nine sports programs achieved top 25 national ranking in the last four years 
  • 16 alumni have competed in Olympic Games, with one gold medalist 

University of Tampa 

  • 21 national championships 
  • 118 Sunshine State Conference Championships 
  • 593 All-Americans 
  • 54 academic All-Americans 
  • Seven former baseball players advanced to MLB 

Pasco-Hernando State College 

  • One national championship 
  • Five cross country championships 

Saint Leo University 

  • Four national championships 
  • Top five program in all of NCAA Division II 
  • 120 All American’s 
  • 29 Sunshine State Conference titles (as of October 2021) 

Eckerd College 

  • 25 SSC Conference Championships 
  • 56 All-Americans 
  • 64 national tournament appearances 
  • 24 SSC Coaches of the Year 
  • 31 players and freshman of the year 
  • 11 NCAA Presidents’ Awards for Academic Excellence 

Hillsborough Community College 

  • Two NJCAA national championships  
  • Women’s volleyball makes it to NJCAA nationals in 2013 
  • Women’s tennis NJCAA Region 8 State Champions in 2021 

St. Petersburg College 

  • Three national championships  
  • Four Suncoast Conference state championships 
  • 68 former baseball players advanced to the MLB 

By Ryan Walsh.

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