UM ATHLETICS: Pep rally celebrates athletes who brought three titles to UM

With three more national titles to add to the school’s rapidly growing list, Category 5 took time Wednesday to honor those who earned them.

Junior sprinter Krista Simkins, along with sophomore divers Brittany Viola and Reuben Ross were on hand for a pep rally to celebrate the three athletes’ recent accomplishments.

Ross and Viola both won NCAA championships in March. Ross won the men’s three-meter springboard less than one week after Viola won the women’s platform event.

Simkins also took home an NCAA national title March 15, when she won the indoor 400-meter title with a time of 52.16.

A crowd of about 50 people was on hand in the lower lounge of the UC to congratulate the three student-athletes.

The pep rally was kicked off with music and a quick introduction as the excited fans quickly quieted down to hear the three athletes speak.

Viola, the third women’s diver in school history to win an NCAA title, spoke first, thanking everyone at the event.

“We’re so happy to be part of this program and to have all this support behind us,” she said.

Ross and Simkins agreed, thanking coaches and fans before giving way to President Donna E. Shalala who, after making sure she got the athletes’ autographs, called them all “outstanding representatives for the university.”

The pep rally, which in itself only lasted a little more than five minutes, ended with Sebastian leading the rambunctious crowd in a C-A-N-E-S chant.

Simkins, Viola and Ross all stayed to sign autographs and chat a good 30 minutes after the rally was over.

When asked to reflect on the season, Ross said, “winning the National Championship did not come without a price,” alluding to all the work the three put into their respective sports throughout the year.

Simkins was not ready to reflect just yet, instead looking ahead to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June, saying, “I’m still looking to defend my title.”

“I’m going to the Olympics,” Shalala said, “and I expect to see each one of them there.”

When told of Shalala’s comments, the three athletes all exchanged glances and smiles before Ross spoke saying emphatically, “That’s the plan.”

Tom Murphy may be contacted at