Ron and Casey DeSantis hosted FSU women’s champs. Here’s why that’s unique

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"It’s kind of unique to have a Governor and First Lady who had both played college sports."

The First Couple wasn’t in office when Florida State University’s women’s soccer and softball programs took home national trophies.

But that didn’t keep Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis from recognizing the 2018 NCAA championship teams for their accomplishments Wednesday evening at the Governor’s Mansion.

It’s a customary gesture, sure. But those in attendance said afterward that the reception had been noteworthy, partly because the state’s chief executive and his wife are both accomplished college athletes. 

“It’s kind of unique to have a Governor and First Lady who had both played college sports,” said Chris Dudley, a lobbyist who attended the reception.

Attendees noted that Ron DeSantis, who captained the Yale baseball team long before he helmed the state, appeared to have carefully prepared what he wanted to share with the two teams that are carrying forward a venerable sports legacy at FSU.

Casey DeSantis, a champion equestrian in college, had reached out to the university with the idea to recognize the teams in March or Women’s History Month.

Some have noticed the First Lady’s active role in the new administration.

“It really shows that First Lady DeSantis is paying attention to what’s going on in our state,” said Kathy Mears, who handles legislative affairs for the school, “whether it be policy or individual needs — or in this case the accomplishments of our women athletes at Florida State University.” 

For Mark Krikorian, who coaches women’s soccer at FSU, it marked his second time at the Governor’s Mansion. Former Gov. Rick Scott and wife Ann had invited the team following its 2014 national championship, the first in program history.

But familiarity didn’t make it any less “priceless,” Krikorian suggested.

This time, Casey DeSantis had connected with the athletes, discussing at-times humorously her decorated horseback history.

“I thought she was great,” Krikorian said of the First Lady. “She gave great messages to our players and clearly had taken the time to put together a message of strength.”

Florida State Women’s Soccer team won the 2018 women’s College Cup after defeating North Carolina 1-0 in December. The win, the second in program history, ends a 20-4-3 season.

Before winning the 2018 NCAA National Championship with an 8-3 win over Washington, the storied FSU women’s softball team had reached the Women’s College World Series nine times before, had three different National Players of the Year and was led by NFCA Hall of Fame Coach JoAnne Graf, the first in NCAA history to win 1,400 games.

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Danny McAuliffe

Danny is a contributor at He is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. Reach him at [email protected].


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