Top 10 women's sports stories

Published: 12/29/2007 12:01 AM

It's that time of year again. So, before the countdown begins in a few days and 2008 officially begins, here's my countdown of the 10 best stories in women's sports in 2007.

10. Mexican fiesta: What a year for Lorena Ochoa. She's done Mexico proud.

The 26-year-old golfer from south of the border had one of those rare dream seasons -- and in just her fifth year on the LPGA Tour.

She replaced Annika Sorenstam at No. 1 in the world rankings and captured her first major championship at the Women's British Open, becoming the first female to win a professional event at St. Andrews. Plus, she became the first LPGA player to top $4 million in one season.

For her efforts, Ochoa was recently named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

9. Early exit: The basketball world was taken aback by the abrupt and inexplicable retirement of WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw, who told Los Angeles Sparks officials at the beginning of last season that she would be leaving the team and the game immediately, after eight-plus seasons in the league.

She had yet to hit 30 and was in the prime of her playing years.

But after winning three straight NCAA championships at Tennessee, taking on the pressure of being billed as the female Michael Jordan, and becoming one of the first female basketball players to get her own shoe, Holdsclaw said she was ready for a break.

And away she went.

8. Coaching legends: Two of DePaul's best coaches made some big news earlier this month.

Eugene Lenti, the school's softball coach, found out at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association annual convention that he will be one of six people inducted into the association's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Meanwhile, Doug Bruno, the women's basketball coach, directed his nationally ranked team to a victory over Missouri State. It was the 400th victory of his career.

Bruno and Lenti have coached at DePaul for 22 and 26 years respectively.

7. Sky high: The Chicago Sky improved by leaps and bounds in its second season.

After finishing 5-29 in its inaugural campaign, the Sky went 14-20 last summer and was fighting for a playoff spot up through the last week of the season.

Also, Sky rookie Armintie Price made quite a splash. She was named WNBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 7.9 points per game.

6. TV time: What a coup the Big Ten Network has been for women's sports.

The new network is televising 55 women's basketball games and covering all kinds of minor Big Ten women's sports that would have never gotten the time of day before, let alone a decent sound byte on a mainstream sports show.

There's even a weekly women's sports show that runs on Mondays.

5. Big ruling: In July, a former college volleyball coach was awarded $5.85 million in what is likely the largest jury award ever granted to a coach suing for retaliation under Title IX.

Lindy Vivas, who had been the head coach at Fresno State since 1991, claimed that she was fired in 2004 because she spoke up for equal treatment for women within the athletic department under the parameters of Title IX.

"The message that was sent to me," Vivas said, "was either sit down and shut up, or something will happen to you."

4. Triple crown: Kudos to the most dominant team in the Chicago area: the Northwestern women's lacrosse team.

The Wildcats won their third consecutive NCAA national championship in the spring by defeating Virginia in the title game.

Northwestern, which finished the season at 21-1, became just the second team in NCAA history to win three straight national titles. The other team is Maryland, which won seven straight from 1995-2001.

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller's Wildcats have gone 62-2 over the last three seasons.

3. Orange crush: After a nine-year title drought, Tennessee was back to being Tennessee.

The Lady Vols won their seventh national championship by defeating Rutgers in the NCAA national championship game in Cleveland in April.

Former Naperville Central star Candace Parker had a team-high 17 points and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

More important (for Vols fans, anyway), she reiterated at the postgame news conference that she indeed would be returning to Tennessee for another run. Some had wondered if she would jump ship for the WNBA.

2. What a dope: What a sad, sad story the Marion Jones saga has become.

She's broke, and she's now medal-less and title-less.

In November, the International Association of Athletics Federation annulled all of her results dating to September 2000, including her Olympic and world championship titles, because of doping violations.

She returned all five of her Olympic medals.

The track and field governing body also wants her to pay back about $700,000 in prize money from that period.

1. Hokey pokey: I've never seen so many people post their thoughts about women's basketball on Internet blogs and message boards than when news about the Pokey Chatman mess broke.

The Don Imus/Rutgers women's basketball controversy came close, but not quite.

You remember Pokey, don't you? She was the former LSU coach who shot to the top only to lose it all when one of her assistant coaches reported an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between Chatman and one of her former players.

Chatman was widely considered one of the hottest young coaches in the game but left in disgrace, sued the school and ultimately settled.